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Entry #5

Discussion in '2023 Christmas Competition' started by Xiph0, Jan 3, 2024.

  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    Fluorescent lights weren’t the worst thing about the Muggle world, but they were up there. Lily squinted at the cans of food on the shelves of Hillards. The floors had recently been mopped with some horrid-smelling cleaning solution, and it was making her eyes water.

    “Lily dear, for heaven’s sake, will you stop sighing?” her mother asked, exasperated. “Doing the shopping isn’t my favorite errand either, but you asked to come with me.”

    “I know,” Lily said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was doing it.”

    Her mother shook her head, grabbing a can of beans off the shelf. “Just a few more things, and then we’ll be on our way home.”

    “Er,” Lily said, “actually, could we stop next door and buy some… shoelaces first? I need new ones.”

    Her mother frowned down at Lily’s feet, where each shoelace was clearly intact.

    “For my other shoes,” Lily said quickly. “My boots. One of the laces broke.”

    “Oh, I can sort that easily,” her mom said, pushing the trolley forward. “I bought Petunia a pair of new boots earlier this year. Thank goodness I haven’t given away the ones she grew out of – we can use the laces on her old ones for you.”

    Lily sighed again. So much for staying out of Tuney’s way during the Christmas holidays. Lily wearing Petunia’s shoelaces was exactly the kind of trivial detail that would catch her sister’s eye immediately – and instantly spark another fight.

    “Never mind,” Lily muttered.

    Her mother gave her a knowing look and opened her mouth to say something, when they were surprised by two familiar faces.

    “Eileen!” Lily’s mum said. “It’s been ages, how are you?”

    “Margaret.” Eileen Snape gave a weak smile, looking as irrationally guilty as ever to be out of the house. Severus seemed as startled to see Lily as she was to see him.

    Eileen wore a straw hat and what seemed like a pajama top with a long, old fashioned skirt under her coat. Sev had lately taken to wearing puce green coveralls. The state of his hygiene seemed worse than usual. His clothes, hands and face were covered in black smudges and green powder.

    “Nice to have the children back for the holidays, isn’t it?” Mrs. Evans said. A couple other shoppers stared as they wheeled past the Snapes.

    “Sev?” Lily said. “I thought you were spending the holidays with the Mulcibers.”

    He shrugged awkwardly. “They changed their plans.”

    She frowned. “But then why didn’t you tell me?”

    He seemed to be casting about for an answer.

    Mrs. Evans began chatting with Mrs. Snape about recipes, and the two mums turned a corner together as Mrs. Evans moved to point out something on a different shelf.

    Sev eyed Lily, then looked down at the ground. It was often strange to see him without a wand in his hand. At school, he was always carrying it. Always overly defensive. “The Mulcibers have too many relatives staying over at theirs, for the holidays,” he said. “So I couldn’t sleep over. And John said it would be too much trouble for his parents to use side-along Apparition to get me to and from my house every day.”

    “That doesn’t sound suspicious at all,” Lily said dryly.

    “You think I’m lying?”

    “I think they’re lying, Sev.”

    An ugly flush suffused his pallid face. “You think it’s impossible anyone else would want to hang out with me?”

    “Sev, no. It’s dodgy. Who knows what that family gets up to? It’s no surprise they don’t want outsiders coming into their home.”

    He scowled. “I’m not an outsider.”

    She sighed, deflated, and turned away. It was exhausting, trying to convince him that people like Mulciber and Avery were awful, especially when she knew he already knew it. She was sick of talking in circles with him these days.

    “If you must know,” Severus said, “I didn’t tell you that I’d be home for Christmas because… well, I don’t plan to be at Spinner’s End much longer.”

    Lily turned back to him, eyeing him warily.

    “I’m working on something,” he said. “I thought I’d be done by now.”

    Lily stayed silent.

    “Well,” he said, “don’t you want to know what it is?”

    “Obviously you want to tell me.”

    Sev scowled. “Not anymore I don’t.”

    “Does it have to do with Dark magic?”

    “No,” Sev said sullenly.

    He said nothing for a while. She rolled her eyes and started to walk away, when he grabbed her arm. “Piss off, Sev,” she said, shaking him off. “I hate it when you do that.”

    “Sorry! Sorry. Lily. Look. I’m sorry. It’s got nothing to do with Dark magic, I promise. I’m –” He dropped his voice and looked around. “I’m going to connect our fireplace to the Floo network.”

    She blinked. All her irritation with him momentarily evaporated, replaced with a flurry of thoughts: the advanced charm work one had to achieve to connect a fireplace, the mountain of Ministry requirements and paperwork… and how, if he pulled this off, the wizarding world would suddenly burst open in its accessibility to them.

    “I have a million questions,” she said.

    “Fire away.” Sev was trying very hard to look aloof, but her excitement was apparently contagious.

    “So your dad finally said yes?”

    Sev gave a derisive snort. “Of course not.”

    “So… you and your mum are going to do it in secret.”

    He shook his head.

    “So… you’re going to break into the Department of Magical Transportation?”

    “I don’t need to deal with the Ministry for any of this. They’ll need an adult to sign off, and that won’t happen. The magic is complex, but it’s doable. I could be in Hogsmeade by Thursday.”

    “But if the Ministry finds out that you did this without authorization, couldn’t you get in trouble? Couldn’t your mum get in trouble?”

    “They’ll never notice. With everything going on with the war, they’re not checking for connections from a witch’s house that’s already on the books, in a village that no one cares about.”

    Lily’s excitement faltered. “Sev, what is this for?”

    He looked at her in confusion. “What is it for? It’s for escaping the worst place in the world, any time I’d like. It’s for securing what I’ve deserved my whole life. What do you mean ‘what is it for?’”

    “But why does it need to be in secret?”

    “What are you talking about? You know why it has to be in secret. My dad despises anything that would make my mum’s life easier. Or my life.” He glowered at her. “I thought you’d understand.”

    She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Of course I do.”

    Severus stared at her for a while.

    “Lily!”

    She started. “Coming, Mum.”

    “Come over tomorrow evening,” Sev muttered.

    Lily blinked. “On New Year’s Eve?”

    “My parents won’t be home. They have to go to some work party. I can show you how far along I am.”

    Lily hesitated.


    “Unless you have other plans,” he said, petulant.

    She looked up at him. Severus’ face looked so sickly under Muggle lights. “I’ll be there,” she said.

    ~~~

    He opened the door before she had a chance to knock. His hands, clothes and face were streaked with soot.

    “Quickly,” he said.

    Lily slipped through the front door on Spinner’s End. “What, think we’re being watched?” she said with an uneasy laugh.

    “I don’t know how long my parents will be gone,” he said.

    The familiar mildewy smell of the Snapes’ living room filled Lily’s nostrils. He crossed the room briskly, wearing the same coveralls from yesterday, and knelt in front of the fireplace. Several open books were strewn around the hearth, notes and diagrams scribbled on bits of parchment. A black velvet bag of Floo powder was open on the ground.

    “Let’s put down newspapers or something,” Lily said, looking around. “Ashes are getting everywhere. We don’t want to make your dad cross. Or suspicious.” She wasn’t particularly fond of Mr. Snape either.

    Sev came back with paper bags. He laid one down under his knees, then placed one in an empty space next to him. He looked up into the chimney, crouching down at an awkward angle to get a better look. “Come see this,” he said.

    Lily crouched next to him. Her eyes were still adjusting in the gloom, but she was eventually able to make out dozens of thin, green, powdery lines in the back of the chimney, high enough to be out of sight to anyone who wasn’t looking for it. The huge design had a similar shape and scope of something she’d seen before. She glanced at one of the books beside her. Sev had duplicated the same mad diagram that was on the page.

    “Is this a map?”

    “Yes. The Floo Network of Britain,” he said, “or, a schematic map of the largest routes, at least.”

    She snorted, pointing to one of the many serpentine lines that looped and wiggled nonsensically to its destination. “What’s schematic about this?”

    He didn’t smile back. “A wizarding schematic. The lines need to have a spirited energy to hold the strength of magic needed for this.”

    “Or,” she said, “wizards just like to have a little fun.” She squinted at it. “So we’re… here?”

    “No. Here.”

    She jerked away, startled. He was using his wand to gesture to a point on the map.

    “Don’t worry. I won’t do anything that the Trace can detect.” He paused, adding, “I’d hate to jeopardize your Prefect status.”

    “I’m sure,” Lily said, matching the bite in his voice.

    “Not using magic has been the whole problem,” he continued. “Connecting the fireplace to the Floo network would be easy enough if I could use the standard spell. But I’ve had to get creative, using the magic that’s already in Floo powder.”

    The bitterness in his voice left Lily unsettled. She was used to Sev’s bad temper. But what she sensed from him was more than a Hogwarts student’s frustration with underage magic restrictions. What he previously would’ve seen as an interesting challenge, he now loathed as beneath him.

    “Impressive. Where did you get the Floo powder?” she asked.

    “From Mulciber.”

    Lily made an irritated noise.

    “Where would you prefer that I collect it? All my invitations to your Gryffindor friends’ parties have gotten lost in the post, I’m afraid,” he sneered.

    “Is all of this Mulciber’s idea?” She waved at the books and paper scattered around. “Are these instructions his father gave you?”

    “No. You and I have talked about doing this in the past, Lily.”

    “We’ve fantasized about it, sure, but never with any sort of plan or –”

    “Why should I have to fantasize about having something that someone like me should already have?”

    “Think, did Mr. Mulciber try to plant this idea in your head?” she said seriously. “Did he make some offhand comment that he knew would cause you to connect –”

    “This is ridiculous, Lily! I need a source of transportation. People aren’t going to show up to Spinner’s End on broomsticks to take me shopping in Diagon Alley. They’re not going to swoop down on a fucking winged horse to whisk me away to Edinburgh every weekend!”

    She could feel her face turning red, half from embarrassment and half from indignation that she should even feel abashed to have other friends. “Marlene’s family wasn’t picking me up every weekend, Sev, it was just for –” She shook her head. “That’s not the point! Death Eaters would love to have an unmonitored connection to the Floo network. You’re playing right into their hands!”

    “The Mulcibers aren't Death Eaters. And besides, no one on You-Know-Who's side is interested in hurting me, or my mum.”

    “Or me?”

    He paused, nostrils flaring angrily. “No. No, I don’t think… if you’d just stop drawing so much attention to yourself…”

    “What attention?”

    “You should never have accepted that Prefect position this year!” Sev spat. “That was so foolish!
    You have a target on your back now, and for what?”

    “Sev, the Death Eaters don’t care about who’s Prefect, that’s idiotic! You just didn’t want me paired up with Remus Lupin, too close to Potter –”

    “And why should you?” he demanded, eyes bulging now. A few green sparks shot out of his wand. “I thought you said Potter’s an arrogant toerag!”

    “Of course he is, but that’s hardly a reason for me to turn down Prefect!”

    “It’s a meaningless title, for students who desperately need to be told they’re special! They’re glorified childminders!”

    “Oh please, Sev. If you’d have gotten Prefect, you’d have pinned the badge on your shirt before you could finish saying ‘glorified childminders,’” she said, mimicking his sullen wheeze.

    “Only because I’d be in a better position to – ” He flailed about, not finishing his sentence.

    “What, do things like bring the enemy straight into our bloody neighborhood?”

    “Why can’t you understand,” he hissed, sparks ricocheting out of his wand, “that if you insist on calling them ‘the enemy,’ then that’s the kind of thing that brings Death Eaters straight into your house!”

    With this, he gestured furiously into the fireplace. He may not have been aware just how much energy was sparking from his wand, and Lily’s eyes widened. A spark ignited one of the green trails of powder that had been carefully smeared inside the fireplace wall, popping and crackling from the spot where Sev had first pointed, burning down, down through the line, spinning and darting along the erratic path up until…

    “Move back.” Severus yanked Lily up off the floor, lurching away from the fireplace.

    BOOM!

    A loud bang rattled the Snapes’ house, knocking Lily and Sev back to the ground, and an enormous green fire erupted in the grate.

    Sev pushed himself up onto his arms. He was wincing, but pleased. “It worked,” he said, green light dancing on his pale face.

    “Well… maybe…” Lily said skeptically.

    He got up with a grunt. “We shouldn’t waste it.”

    We?”

    Sev moved clumsily but quickly, his movements a blur as he darted toward the scattered papers and books strewn across the ground, snatching them up and racing them back to his bedroom. He came back in rumpled Hogwarts robes and cloak, out of breath, his hair sticking unpleasantly to his face. He nudged a tentative hand into the flame and then, satisfied, looked back at her with an uncharacteristically genuine grin that made Lily’s heart ache with nostalgia. Suddenly they were eleven years old again, sitting on the train. “This is it!” he’d told her, exhilarated. “We’re off to Hogwarts!”

    He knelt down and took a pinch of Floo powder from the bag.

    “Sev. Wait.”

    But the typically cautious Severus Snape was under the influence of his own magical accomplishment. He threw the powder into the fire and shouted, “Diagon Alley!”

    Severus pulled his cloak around him in an overly dramatic way and vanished in a swirl of smoke. There was no hint that anything had gone awry. Still, that didn’t mean he wasn’t currently burning to a crisp in some sort of makeshift magical portal right now. Which would serve him right, she grumbled to herself.

    As the glittering green fire continued to crackle, she sat on the ground, unsure what to do. She could easily leave and walk home, watch telly with her parents until midnight and go to bed. She didn’t need to walk into what felt unnervingly like a trap.

    She stood up and brushed soot off her trousers. The flames were beginning to shrink. Sev was awfully good at makeshift magic…

    She looked at the door, crossing her arms with a huff.

    In one swift movement, she crossed the room, took a pinch of Floo powder, and cursed under her breath. “Diagon Alley!” she said.

    ~~~

    As Lily stumbled out of a different fireplace, she involuntarily fell to her knees and covered her head as a loud explosion reverberated through the large hall where she’d been jettisoned.

    Peals of laughter reached her ears, and Lily didn’t realize at first that it was directed at her.

    “Never heard a firework before, hen?” a plump witch cackled. She shot off another firecracker with her wand, and those at the table with her ducked with whoops and giggles as a ragged jet of marigold light zoomed around them before bursting into a shower of sparks.

    With a glance at the familiar bar counter, Lily blinked, confused as she realized that she was in the Leaky Cauldron. The pub had been expanded at least five or six times its typical size, and a band was playing buoyant tiddle-dee-dee reels as a packed crowd danced and clapped along. Colorful spells zoomed around the ceiling, illuminating the occupants below. The air was thick with a scent like burnt gunpowder, and it was warmer in here than usual. She pushed herself from the floor and dusted off her clothes, trying to regain her composure.

    She squinted at the crowds – a noisy, swirling mass of hats, laughter, and clinking glasses – looking for Severus. It was unclear whether he’d come here with a specific goal in mind or on a whim, and she wasn’t sure where he would have wandered from here. Lily prayed that she hadn’t unintentionally followed him to a prearranged meet-up with Mulciber and Avery.

    As she sidestepped Florean Fortescue dancing a lively waltz with Madam Malkin, she collided with a frenzied blur of two figures and heard her least favorite greeting.

    “All right, Evans?” cried James Potter, ruffling a hand through his hair as he careened sideways from the momentum. “Fancy bumping into you!”

    “Especially when we were across the room a half-second ago,” said Sirius Black, wincing as he rubbed his arm.

    “Want a pint? I’m buying.”

    Was it impossible to spend a single moment in the wizarding world in which she wouldn’t have to dodge a conversation with James Potter? “How?” Lily said. “We’re fifteen.”

    “I have my ways,” he said with a grin.

    “We’re incredibly discreet,” Sirius said loudly, filling his empty pint glass with a pitcher of ale from a nearby table, the occupants far too busy laughing uproariously as a witch told a hiccuping story. Sirius passed the pint glass to Potter, who passed it to Lily with a wink.

    How thick was Potter, that he thought she’d ever warm to him when she saw his worst qualities out of the corner of her eye all the time? That he thought he could lob a taunt and a jinx at her friend nearly every day, then turn around and flash her a charming smile?

    “I can’t,” she said. “I’ll vomit.”

    “A Butterbeer, then.”

    “I’m not talking about the alcohol.”

    She shoved the glass back into his hands and pushed through the crowds, making her way out to the quieter courtyard that would take her into Diagon Alley, but she stopped short in front of the brick wall.

    Of course, Potter had followed her. He crossed his arms and leaned against the courtyard wall with a grin. “Forgotten something?”

    Lily glowered at the brickwork.

    “In all seriousness,” Potter said, “you really ought to carry your wand with you everywhere you go. You know. These days.”

    She turned to him with a sigh. “Would you mind tapping open the wall, please?”

    He moved for his wand, at first, then paused. “You’re alone?”

    “That’s not any of your business.”

    “So… you’re going out into Diagon Alley, by yourself, at night?”

    “I don’t need protecting, Potter.”

    “Well, you do a bit, if you go larking about without a wand. Let me come with you, Evans. I could do with a cheeky nighttime stroll for at least,” he said, checking his watch, “twenty-seven minutes.”

    Lily started. “Is that how close it is to midnight?”

    “Oh, is it? Hadn’t noticed.”

    “Sev’s parents will be home soon, I really need to find him before they –”

    Potter cut her off with a loud groan. “You can’t possibly be spending your New Year’s Eve with Snivellus! The stench alone would ruin your night.”

    “Potter,” Lily said. “Let. Me. Through.”

    “Well, I definitely need to go with you now,” Potter said, deftly tapping out the combination of bricks before the wall unfurled itself before them. “Can’t have your holiday go to waste like that.”

    Lily sprinted out onto the cobbled road, Potter close behind her.

    ~~~

    She skidded in front of Flourish and Blotts, trying the door only to find it locked.

    “All the shops’ll be closed today,” said Potter, standing behind her.

    “That wouldn’t necessarily stop him,” she muttered, peering through the windows.

    “Have you checked the roof?” he asked, backing up to get a better look. “Maybe he’s there, doing whatever Snivellus does for fun. Kicking puppies off it, maybe.”

    Lily pressed her forehead against the window to attempt to glimpse the Potions section in the back. “He’s probably doing something a little more interesting than getting drunk.”

    Potter snorted indignantly. “Like chumming it up at Borgin and Burkes.”

    Lily frowned and turned around. “Should we look there? Where is that?”

    He gave her an odd look, then shook his head. “How are you friends with someone like him?”

    Lily rolled her eyes as she searched the cobbled road toward Gringotts for any sign of black Hogwarts robes. “Why does no one understand that whenever Sev’s not here to defend himself,” she said, “I always will? People would have more luck if they would just shut up.”

    Potter smiled, different from his cocky grins. “Some people might understand that.”

    “I believe she just told you to shut up.”

    Lily and James whipped around to see Severus scowling at them outside Slug and Jiggers Apothecary.

    “We have to leave,” Sev said to Lily.

    She relaxed, relieved. “That’s what I’ve been trying to find you and say. Your parents will probably be home soon.”

    Sev shook his head dismissively. “They won’t care. We just need to make it back to the fireplace at the Leaky Cauldron before midnight.”

    “Not feeling very festive, Snivelly?”

    “Go back to the pub, Potter,” Sev snarled, aiming his wand at Potter. “You can spend as much time there as you like.”

    Potter’s eyes narrowed.

    “Come on, Sev. Let’s go home.”

    “What happens at midnight?” Potter asked.

    “Confused about holiday traditions?” Severus sneered. “Do they not cover it in Which Broomstick?”

    The color was beginning to drain out of Potter’s face. It was strange to see him look at Severus with anything other than pompous mockery.

    “Sev?”

    James Potter took off running toward the Leaky Cauldron.

    “What’s going on?” Lily demanded from Severus.

    “Come on.”

    He started walking briskly down the road. As they neared the pub, sudden loud sirens sent an electric shock down Lily’s spine.

    Severus swore loudly. “That stupid Snitch-for-brains is overreacting. The fireplace is going to be overrun now!”

    Panicked people began pouring out of the Leaky Cauldron’s courtyard, and Severus and Lily had trouble making their way back inside. A cacophony of pops filled the room as some turned on the spot, and others were desperately shouting for friends and family.

    The fireplace was, in fact, overrun, and Mr. Fortescue was furiously trying to enforce an assembly line, shoving teenagers into the fireplace three or four at a time as he tossed Floo powder in with them. A witch with a mass of blonde curls was screaming, the tell-tale signs of splinching evident on her face, and Madam Malkin took her under her wing, guiding her swiftly out through the courtyard.

    “Who is coming?” Lily shouted at Severus.

    “I don’t know!”

    “Is it Voldemort?” Lily could’ve slapped Sev for the way he winced. “Did you know about this?”

    “I just overheard some warlocks talking in Knockturn Alley... Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen, it might be nothing!”

    “Why didn’t you try to warn people?”

    “Lily, I don’t know anything!” he shouted over the din.

    Lily stormed toward the back entrance, bursting out into Muggle London. The Knight Bus was already parked here as a harried-looking conductor tried to help the mass of people on. The frenzy was beginning to spread to the Muggles, confused and alarmed by the sudden panicked movement of dozens of people, some of them bleeding. Sirius Black was helping a splinched man onto the back of his motorbike, reassuring the person that they’d head straight to St. Mungo’s.

    “Follow me,” Lily spat to Severus, dragging him to a red double-decker instead. The two of them slipped through the bus’s middle entrance without paying and immediately raced up the steps.

    Severus was shaking as they sat down. So was she. She checked her watch and saw that it was five minutes past midnight. She turned in her seat, and the grubby false storefront of the Leaky Cauldron seemed to be fine. None of the witches and wizards seemed to be having any reaction that was bigger than the initial stampede. Maybe it was nothing. Or maybe James Potter had averted something.

    “There were so many people in there,” she murmured. “Hundreds.”

    “Everything’s fine,” Severus said.

    She stared out the window as the bus began to move, the loud, bright bustle of a London New Year’s Eve swimming in her vision. She wiped at her eyes as she felt the swift movement of time, hurtling toward destinations she didn’t want, and clung to the absurd belief that there was still time to right the course, to change the direction of their lives before they arrived.
     
  2. haphnepls

    haphnepls Seventh Year

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    Well, the whole first part I spent being annoyed at Lily's nagging, but that's how it is I guess. I can't say I liked her much in this story, but I think she's written well so there's that. It all feels a little mild for a new year's eve, and all the people that are tumbling around at the end come off kinda suddenly.

    The biggest gripe I've got is the ending, as I feel it doesn't fit with what the story has been building up. It's not the shortest of stories so I actually had certain expectations in payoff but the one you've went with, just doesn't do it for me. Objectively it's a decent story but I guess I'm not the audience for it since I find the characters unlikeable, the ending too short. Good writing. [ /spoiler]
     
  3. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    Hmm.
    Mixed feelings about this one. The use of the prompt felt a bit thin, just a convenient excuse to have people present/absent as the plot demands, which is fair enough, but not great for a competition. It's better on a character front, but that's a mixed blessing in and of itself - while everyone felt reasonably accurate, it's not necessarily a nice character dynamic to follow - Lily is frustrated, Snape's a twat, James is an idiot (until he kinda isn't). Maybe it's the ending that causes that, because it felt a bit abrupt. Taken as a canon missing scene, it raises an eyebrow that Lily would be willing to support Snape as much as she does for the next few months, but this isn't necessarily canon, of course.
    I do like what this actually does, mind - it's an effective portrayal of a concerned friend who just can't reach the person she's concerned about at all, and it's decently written, just...hmm.
     
  4. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene Unspeakable –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    Now that's a character study I never expected to see. What a marvelous time period to establish your setting in, before it all went to rot between Lily and Snape.

    I quite like this. A lot of good details packed in.

    The prompt feels a bit of an after thought for most of the story. I'd say its more about Snape proving hinself to Lily than anything else, but you did convey the revelry around the prompt post-Floo, so I'll say no more.

    In all, strong stuff. Good work.
     
  5. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    Hmm. The ending feels off. It took a while to get to the point where I was fully "in", and when I was, it was done a minute later. I think that's a shame. You were onto something there, I think, and then suddenly you weren't.

    Personally, looking back now that I've read the entire piece, the first scene - a supermarket, Lily and Snape meeting - feels like a windup for something that wound up having no real payoff. Snape's an asshat, but we knew that already. Snape's mom is a non-entity, but we knew that already too.

    But, on the other hand, some parts are too short. Lily and James have comparatively little time with each other, James nearly has a duel with Snape, and then he's off to go save people from some otherwise unmentioned, offscreen disaster, the cause or effects of which we can only guess at.

    In terms of technical writing, the only thing that stood out to be: you have a one-line flashback at the end of a paragraph. That was confusing and it took me a reread of that bit to figure out what you'd done there.
     
  6. Mr. Mixed Bag

    Mr. Mixed Bag Seventh Year

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    California
    There’s a lot that you do here that I really, really like. I think you have a fantastic grasp of subtlety when it comes to relationships. The way Snape for example, even in this relatively brief example, shows some of his main traits from canon; specifically his victim complex and skill for not taking responsibility. The tone between Lily and Snape, the way they’re on the verge of letting old arguments overwhelm their friendship, is excellent as well, and I love how Lily’s external attitude about Severus shifts once dealing with James Potter. Then the small, distinct moments of description where we can feel Lily’s growing aversion to muggle life, the way electric lights bother her and the rift with her sister.

    What I’m not as convinced about is the plot structure. To be frank, not a lot happens. As great as the character work can be, I would like for that to be one aspect of a story, not the entire focus. There’s the attack at the end, which could be a great source of tension, but barring some description about a panicking crowd it never really materializes. I think some more external threat, even just a more threatening tone, would help the latter half of this piece a lot.
     
  7. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Competition Winner CHAMPION ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    May 29, 2020
    Messages:
    219
    Location:
    Away with the fairies
    I felt apprehensive reading this because I’m irrationally particular about how the characters you’ve used should be portrayed, but you’ve made them similar (read: probably a bit better) to how I would write them so instead of annoyed I’m now very fond of your fic.

    Having said that I agree with the other reviewers that having the climax of the fic mostly off-screen isn’t a smart decision. I think with a slightly higher word count you would have solved it, although I also, hypocritically perhaps, think you have made the right decision in not specifying if the event was proper horrible dark magic or if it was something that could still be laughed off as a prank. In your shoes I would have tried to end the fic with Lily inside the pub deciding to help, but have the curtain fall just before whatever it is goes off inside. Open-ended fics are great.

    One nit-pick, why isn’t Snape able to use magic inside his home? Surely since his Mum is a witch the Ministry wouldn’t bother as long as he’s doing it at his home address? I feel like in one of the flashbacks we get of him we see him shooting down flies with his wand in his bedroom.

    Your dialogue is my favourite part, but I also like the theme of travel that runs through the fic with the floo and the knight bus and winged horses and the motorcycle and then finally the muggle bus.

    Thanks for writing!
     
  8. Dubious Destiny

    Dubious Destiny Seventh Year

    Joined:
    May 3, 2018
    Messages:
    249
    I think this is possibly the best entry. Your Lily jibes with canon. Snape comes off a little more exuberant than I ever pictured him as, but this is a great characterization as well.

    Given the constant worry about falling in line with Mulciber and his crowd and Lily's worries about their paths, I'm guessing this is set just before before their OWLS.

    Like son, like father? It's interesting to see you showed James believing Snape could know of such plans as early as end of their Fourth Year. It really adds to the tension of the climax in the fic.

    Well, so much for not being caught by the trace. Or did Snape do something here?
     
  9. Lindsey

    Lindsey Chief Warlock DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    1,514
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Your characterizations of Lily and Severus are some of the best I've seen. They feel like real teenagers growing apart. You can see Lily wanting to be friends with Severus but at the same time, getting more and more fed up with his attitude and actions. I can easily see the fallout that would happen in the upcoming years based on these scenes. The conversations are subtle, yet tense. Filled with friendship, yet distrust. That nuance is hard to find in fanfics and I appreciate it immensely.

    Now for some critiques, the ending is too abrupt. You spend more time in the supermarket than you do with Severus and Lily at Diagon Alley. The 'danger' feels off, and too sudden. If you come back to this piece and improve it, I suggest fleshing this section and expanding on it. I want to see more of New Years in the alley, and more conversations with Severus. Slowly build up the potential action.
     
  10. Niez

    Niez Seventh Year ⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2018
    Messages:
    279
    Location:
    Behind you
    Damn girl, chillax, it's New Years Eve.

    I don't have much more to add beyond what I and others have already pointed out. A good idea well told, prose, pacing, and characterization wise. The only caveat is the ending, which feels a bit rushed. 4/5.
     
  11. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Seventh Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐⭐

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2018
    Messages:
    228
    Thanks so much everyone for really helpful feedback about what worked and didn't work in this story. I appreciate it hugely. I've been wanting to explore the really interesting dynamics of Lily and Snape's canon-compliant friendship for a while now. However, I suspect there won't be much of an audience for than on AO3 or FFN, so I've held off on writing into the void. I wrote this comp entry back in 2021, and I took everyone's really helpful concrit to craft a new entry with much better characterization.

    Thanks to everyone for carefully reading something that I know would not be most people's first choice of reading material. Time and time again, I submit comp entries while thinking, "This isn't DLP's cup of tea, but here goes," and I'm always pleasantly surprised.
     
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