(1) "Like Shadows on the Winter Sky" (Harry Potter)
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 11th February 2011 (1)
Summary: When Voldemort tires of Severus, he exacts his punishment. Hermione is reluctantly along for the ride in Snape's journey out of the darkness. SS/HG - not the typical love story. Dark.
"When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodg'd with me useless..."
This story is dark in more than one way; both metaphorical and literal. It's not much of a spoiler to reveal that Snape is blinded by Voldemort, since it happens early on in the story, and the rest of the story is the fallout: how Snape copes and fails to cope with this, how Hermione is dragged into it, and how they reluctantly work together. Note that there is no romance in this story, just friendship. It seems clear that this was written just after Goblet of Fire because, even though this is ostensibly set in Sixth Year, there is no reference to the events of Order of the Phoenix.
Snape and Hermione are very much in character. One of the things I love about this is that Hermione does not have a crush on Snape; it's only her sense of duty that brings her to him, and she regrets it more than once as he is nasty and snappish and not at all friendly. Seeing things from Snape's point of view, it's insightful; that he is bitter and despairing and guilty and so much in the habit of being snappy that he doesn't really know how to be anything else. But he's also brilliant in more than one field, and well-read and a fascinating conversationalist once he opens up. Hermione is brilliant in her own way, never seeing a problem without immediately wanting to solve it, compassionate and stubborn, sure and unsure, expecting perfection of herself.
There is some powerful, poetic imagery here.
The darkness was still black and all consuming, and he wondered vaguely if it would ever cease to be odd. The binding around his eyes helped contribute to the hopeless illusion that he was merely blindfolded and could remove it and see any time he wished, could peel away layer after layer and witness the light that he had shunned for so many years locked away in the dungeons of the castle. God, he missed it so much, in a way he never thought possible. Deep in his chest, there was a tugging, as though his heart were straining to be released, as though some invisible hand held a heartstring and was attempting to draw it out into the light of the fire he knew was there.
I love the way Snape's world of darkness is described in terms of his other senses.
The other man drew up in front of him, and he smelled that same wildness, like trees in a snowy forest, that he recognized immediately as Lupin's scent. The direction of the smell and the air moved and Lupin was beside him.
It's a pity that there are a number of homophone mistakes, such as your/you're and its/it's.
The way that Arithmancy is dealt with here is wonderfully original and fascinating; that advanced Arithmancy isn't just cold numbers, but something dangerous and seductive that can drive one mad if one isn't careful.