Re: I will always think of him as the dark unicorn
I admit it, I'm absolutely thrilled by the way you respond to Snape. Because it's all about Snape for me, even when it's not. Even when, as here, it's really about Lily, Snape's still the dark background to the whole story. I can't help but write him as passionate and fierce, even ugly in his passions, so I always feel I'm walking a melodramatic line. But hey, he's a drama queen, so maybe I can get away with it. ;)
I've written Snarry twice now, and for the life of me I can't imagine Snape and Harry's relationship as anything less than intense, bitchy, consuming, and probably unhealthy. They were both messed-up children. Snape didn't exactly spend his adulthood working out his problems, and Harry is, shall we say, a late bloomer, although not so twisted up in knots. All their emotional deprivation could paradoxically result in a capacity for commitment, even unto death.
It always felt to me, reading canon, that Lily had no idea what she really meant to Severus. The fact is, she wanted something else and had a perfect right to pursue it. But the loss of her friendship was probably the final blow to Severus's belief that life could ever be fair. Well, that's *my* interpretation of the glimpses we get in canon. There's really not a lot to go on where Lily's concerned. I admit to a rather underhanded desire to make the saintly mother figure more fractious and self-involved - in other words, more human. Same with Albus. And I wanted to address the fact that, each in their own way, they treated Severus as expendable, holding onto him only as long as they had need of him.
The baby. Hm. I'll try to keep this short. I decided to treat the horcruxes - the shreds of soul - as both alive and dead. It's all very metaphysical. Because what is death in the HP universe? What is the afterlife? What does it even mean to have a soul? What does it mean to have pieces of it break off and exist separately? I decided to treat Harry's horcrux-bit as a baby, because that's what Dumbledore shows him in the King's Cross scene. All right, I thought, let's make that consistent across the board. It's a baby, and it's in limbo, and it could die or it could be reborn or it could stay the way it is, an unchanging, dormant possibility. Is it inherently evil? Is it really Voldemort, or is it an uninhabited spiritual vessel? It exists on both sides of the line, and Albus is aware of it and feels responsible for it. Being Albus, he decides to spread the responsibility around.
Does that make sense? Or does it just muddy the waters? I didn't want to get too explicit about this in the fic, because I don't in fact have a convincing metaphysical system in mind for JKR's use of souls and the afterlife. I also didn't want the characters to sit around talking about the ways magic functions in relation to death - whether, for example, wizards have a different afterlife than Muggles do. And what *does* happen to damaged souls, not just those divided by the creation of a horcrux, but those torn by use of an Unforgivable? Severus, for example? Which is why I had Albus and Gellert getting all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about it - they don't have a clue, either. In the end, it comes down to: the reader will intuitively go with my hand-waving or they won't. And yeah, it may weaken the fic as a whole, and maybe I could have had Albus wax a bit more pedantic. *ponders*
Finally, I'm delighted that the comparison to a dark unicorn seemed right to you. I was halfway afraid that Snarrydom would run me out of town on a rail for daring to do that to Snape.
I always like to hear a reader's perceptions, because sometimes I'm so deep inside a story that I'm not clear on what I'm doing. You've provided me with a mirror. Thank you for your marvelous comment, and for making me think about my assumptions in this fic.