It is hard to distinguish what is cliché and what is not when it comes to Severus, because his character traits are such – you can’t help but use those traits, and then write it so without ending up feeling, “Hasn’t someone else done this before?”
This story, however, showed the reader us a credible portrayal of Severus, the child. The approach is fresh and unbiased. We see a child who has been deprived of the very innocence of childhood. He is already cunning, coldly logical – but there is no malice as yet. He just knows who he is, and he’s going to live according to that.
He sometimes wishes he could rescue his mother from his father’s wrath, but he is realistic about his size, his abilities and his personality. He is a stringy, underfed child, with no physical way of fighting back and no wand. He is no selfless, chivalrous Gryffindor, either. He knows he will be a Slytherin. Slytherins watch out for themselves first, others second. He knows when to flee, and he knows he must leave his mother to fend for herself. Besides, she never stands up for him, either.
No wonder the Sorting Hat out him in Slytherin, and I don’t mean this as a rebuke.
And yet, there are moments when his maturity is interwoven with childlike honesty:
He hangs back, unsure. His gaunt appearance and worn clothes have never encouraged others to befriend him before. Besides, he has no idea of how to start a conversation with her. Even with his lack of social skills, he suspects that saying “I’m in awe of you,” isn’t the right thing to say.
And the ending is of the best I have ever come across:
The younger girl obviously looked up to her sister, and had apologised whenever she exercised her powers. He wanted her to know that her magic was amazing and breathtaking, not despicable. He needs to rescue her from the tyranny of her mundane older sister, he decides, and expose her to the wonders of the magical world to which she so clearly belongs.
Hours earlier, he had thought he’d never be anyone’s knight in shining armour. Now, he’s seen a different kind of damsel in distress, he desperately wants to be.
A beautiful, poignant fic. Thank you.
Author's Response: I've been meaning to respond to your review for ages, but I've procrastinated. The review itself is so lovely, I know my response won't be anywhere near adequate. I just reread it now, and I'm grinning from ear to ear. I worked really hard on trying to get my characterization of Severus right. I tried to combine the tiny glimpses we get from the HP books at Snape's childhood with his behavior as an adult throughout the series into a logical characterization of him a couple of years pre-Hogwarts. I'm so happy you think I got it right. Your praise of the ending almost means more to me, though, as endings are not usually my strong point. In sum, I'm so incredibly glad to know that this story touched you, and I want to know that your review may have touched me more.
I really like the perspective of the story, and that we see the event from his view point! Yay! To put it simply 'I'm in awe of you'.
Author's Response: Thank you so much! I never thought I'd have somebody in awe of me! :D