Story Title: The Best Revenge
Author Name: Arsinoe de Blassenville
Story Url: Story Link 1
Alternate Url: Story Link 2
Content Rating: Teen
Word Count: 222,259
Story Summary: AU. Yes, the old Snape retrieves Harry from the Dursleys formula. I just had to write one. Everything changes, because the best revenge is living well. T for Mentor Snape’s occasional naughty language. Supportive Minerva.
This is one of the absolute best Severitus/Sevitus-type fanfics I’ve encountered, if for no other reason than it is actually quite plausible. The confrontation between Petunia and Snape is an especially brilliant and gratifying moment in this story. The story is extremely well-written, and the author takes us on a fun ride as she plays with canon. The “what-if” nature of this fic means that quite a bit is changed, and the author has marked it as AU (Alternate Universe) as a result. However, I don’t consider it to be AU*, as everything in the first chapter of PS/SS takes place and it is completely consistent with JKR’s world (i.e., horcruxes exist, etc.). I loved the various questions that the author has answered which were never addressed in canon, such as why Harry never received any fan mail or gifts during his childhood; or why the Dursleys would claim that Harry’s presence was a financial burden, when any muggle adult knows the government would provide foster parents with a monthly check, and the Potter’s estate might even pay out a monthly provision for his care. The author actually takes that last idea further and explains briefly, though quite thoroughly, about British child benefits. There is even a fan-made chart which details precisely how much the Dursleys made from housing Harry!
I can’t list out the numerous other questions that are addressed in the fic without spoiling the story, but I found the author’s many creative solutions to be well thought out and truly delightful. This is one of those rare fics which I wish JKR would read (she has wisely stated that she doesn’t read fanfic of her stories), as I believe she would love Arsinoe de Blassenville’s depictions of JKR’s characters – especially Snape and Petunia – along with Arisnoe’s insightful and delightful solutions to canon quandaries.
Generally speaking this is a gen fic, as it feature children far too young for any romantic concerns. However, there is an extremely well-developed relationship between Snape and another Hogwarts staff member who was so briefly mentioned in canon that she is practically an OC (original character created by Arsinoe de Blassenville). I’m quite impressed with the meticulous way in which this relationship is written, as it feels completely consistent with canon in spite of its obvious departure from canon. The author takes time to bring it about, and it all feels quite logical and natural by the time things come to fruition.
That relationship is not, however, a central focus of this story. “The Best Revenge” is first and foremost a gen story about the events of 1991-1992, in which the author explores how things might have changed if Snape had shown up with Harry’s school letter instead of Hagrid. That one little deviation from canon results in an exciting, adventurous tale which takes nothing away from JKR’s world (there’s no character bashing – just different ways of looking at the characters), but instead creates a fresh story in which anything can happen, particularly once the adults in Harry’s life act like the responsible adults JKR obviously felt them to be.
Finally, I must mention one last interesting and unique aspect to this story. One of my pet peeves is when authors insert editorial comments into the middle of the story, or inane banter before or after the chapter posting. Arsinoe does not do that. Instead, there are often brief notes before or after a chapter posting in which the author brings up interesting discussion points from canon for the readers to consider. By continually pointing her readers back toward canon, all the while giving us interesting questions to consider (E.g., When did Dumbledore realize there was more than one horcrux, and that Harry was one, and how do the answers to those questions reflect upon his treatment of Harry thereafter?), Arsinoe’s notes further the contemplative nature of this story and make it all the more fun to consider both JKR’s version of the HP world and Arsinoe’s “what-if” version. The notes ultimately made me feel as if I were in a book group or college class in which I were given the opportunity to study the HP canon. Off-hand, I can’t think of another author who has ever made such effective use of what are frequently self-aggrandizing, simpering, distracting notes when written by others of less maturity and talent.
In conclusion, I have delighted in re re-reading “The Best Revenge” countless times, along with its completed sequel, and have no doubt that you will, too.
* Note: My definition of “Alternate Universe” differs from this author’s definition. Should that matter to you, please Click Here for an explanation of my use of that term.