This is the kind of comment that leaves me stammering. I don't know where to begin. Well, maybe with an apology for taking so long to respond. My job's holding me captive, and my fandom brain's gone catatonic.
I'm so relieved that the imagery lured you in rather than shutting you out. Once upon a time, I was the sort of writer whose addiction to language threw up a barrier between the reader and the story. I've been trying to write closer to the bone without sacrificing my love of descriptive prose, so it's a special kind of exhilaration to be told that I managed to pull it off. Because this is what I aspire to: the ability to sweep a reader into my private world, not merely because it thrills my ego, but out of gratitude to the writers who have done that for me in the past and the stories that have left me floating. So it's a way of paying forward the pleasure I've had. I credit fanfiction with this: both my success at paring down and for the shared joy. And because I get wrapped up in the emotional existence of the characters and their given stories, the atmosphere and intensity, I want to give readers that same spellbound feeling. It's what I yearn for, after all - that burning identification and utter immersion, when I'm off chasing the perfect word.
I'm elated that Snape and Harry and their particular dynamic worked for you. I don't take it for granted that I can write them convincingly - as complex as my feelings about them are, finding a way to bring them together and keep them in character is always a struggle. At least the grappling I'm forced to do can be used to increase the friction on the page. I have noticed that my version of Snape tends to skirt the edge of tragedy, and I think he is tragic - just not a woobie. It's a challenging edge to walk, because it could result in an OOC disaster. And Harry's a tricky one. This time I wanted to find a way to make him genuinely compassionate, to show him capable of something that Lily wasn't - at least, not at that age (neither was Snape, of course, but then Lily didn't need his kindness). I guess I wanted Harry's heart to be bigger than it was in canon.
Also, are you kidding about the sex? I'm THRILLED that it was hot. There's something about that part of their dynamic that singes the air, but which always means more to me than just sex. It's a form of communication between them that says things they probably never speak of.
I kind of want to hug your comment about Lily. Because you've singled out all the details I tried to put into her portrait. I had my own preconceptions to overcome, and I wanted her flaws to be forgivable, and for her to leave some of her own immaturity behind. I needed her to understand the consequences, the cost, before I put her in the position of making a choice. I'm so pleased that you liked her, because so much of her pettiness is a side effect of youth - and dear God, she was young. On top of that, writing from her POV forced me to consider what kind of personality might have been attracted to both Severus and James. And of course she'd cling to the idea that Harry ought to want the kind of life she and James would have had, if they'd lived - many parents act out their own dreams by pressuring their children to pursue desires they themselves would have chosen if things had been different. How much moreso with Lily, who feels that Harry deserves the reward of a perfect life.
Heh. Albus *clearly* never got over Gellert in canon, so it was easy to see them falling back into old habits. As for baby!Voldie, well, I had to deal with him. I couldn't set the fic in the afterlife and not deal with him, because I found the way he was used in Book Seven thoroughly creepy in its own right and morally indefensible. Plus Lily's growing attachment to this deformed but potentially salvageable child seemed like a nice, sneaky way to parallel her increasing willingness to forgive Severus and see him as a human being.