Ooh, bleeding candles soooo kick ass! I really hope it was the actual candle bleeding and not blood that just happened to be around the candle.
I'm assuming that the majority of this story is delusion in Severus's pain-crippled mind. If the Dark Mark summoning the Death Eaters was painful, I can only assume how much it would have truly sucked to get the Mark in the first place.
I love the horror element of it, which subsequently makes me hope like hell that you're my SSS writer, though the odds of that are ridiculously astronomical. Well, not really, but they might as well be. :D
Hmm, and the end. I want to know, and I'm willing to throw a tantrum until I do. What did Narcissa mean by being Marked 'for us'? I'm sure you have a bunch of fabulous back story for this, and I would be ridiculously happy if you told me what it was at some point. Or I could just harrass you until you do, lol.
Very interesting story, dear. I now have only not read two of your fics. I be ninja, especially during judging season. >.<
Author's Response: Yep, the idea was that the branding with the dark produces feverish hallucinations, which of course for Severus had to be symbolic and meaningful. This was written for a Severus/Narcissa prompt table, so my hazy backstory is that post-Hogwarts Severus and Narcissa are having an affair - he doesn't really love her as he's still hung up on Lily of course but Narcissa is in love him and hates the way she feels like she is always competing with a the ghost of a woman who's out of his life (I've actually got another drabble to that effect, 'See Me', but I can't post it anywhere on here as it's too short for the archives and too smutty for the boards, so it has to remain on LJ sadly). So to Narcissa, she sees Severus taking the Mark as a final choice of her over Lily even though of course Severus' motives are, as ever, far more oblique than that. I'm glad you liked the horror, because it's really the only thing like this that I've written but it was so much fun that I might have to try something like it again. You really are ninja, dear. I was totally overwhelmed by all these reviews (but in good way of course!).
Wow. This was amazing to read. You have an excellent gift for atmosphere. I particularly liked the very beginning, where you show that the candles are bleeding. The prose is simple, but elegant, and I was quickly immersed into the tale.
Plotwise, you delivered several story questions: why is his arm hurting, why is he in the church, who are the doe and raven . . . which you answer eloquently by the end of the story. The scene of the doe dying because of drinking the water was especially poignant here, as was the description of Narcissa's voice as "a voice like poisoned honey." The last part, in italics, clears up the remaining questions.
The symbolism of the actual encounter is also very poignant, and gives a clear glimpse of Severus' internal struggle over Lily and Narcissa/the Death Eaters in general. I did not see any character issues: everyone is so elegantly drawn and developed. I'm surprised you were able to accomplish so much in such a little space.
The only little niggle I have is in the sentence "Long, cruel fingers stretched out of the mist to draw back her heavy, black hood as she passed and bare a shimmering fall of blonde hair." Excellent imagery here, but there are two minor spelling issues: if you mean "bear" as in "to bear a child", the past tense is "bore." If, on the other hand you mean "bare" (i.e. to bare one's teeth), then the past tense is "bared." Also the use of "blonde" is a noun (i.e. a female with blond hair). The adjective, even if used for a woman's hair, is still just blond. Again, though, I love that sentence and the imagery it evokes.
I'm incredibly glad that you are going to be my beta when I see what you've done for your own writing. You have such a sense of setting (one of my main weaknesses, I'm afraid) and a delicious way of fitting words together. Just wonderful.
Author's Response: Thanks, for such a wonderful review, Vorona. I love hearing that the setting works because imagery and atmosphere are absolutely my favourite things to play with when it comes to writing, which is why I enjoyed writing this little story so much. It was mostly a little experiment in those and in trying to bring in some elements of horror and the surreal, so I'm glad it still had just enough plot to have you asking questions. Thanks for the little nitpicks, I'll go back and tweak them - what I was actually aiming for was bare as in reveal, but a structure more like "Long, cruel fingers stretched out of the mist to draw back her heavy, black hood as she passed and (to) bare a shimmering fall of blonde hair." So I'll have to have a think as to how I can make that a little clearer.