I also want to squee over February's Author of the Month: the lovely and talented fearlessdiva. I'm so pleased to follow suit in squealing that the long-anticipated re-writes of Tissue of Silver have just been posted at http://silververse.net. ToS is one of the best full-length fics in the fandom despite its rough state, and the new rewrites have turned it from a purely skilled, romantic fic to an absolutely incredible work. Go. Read. And then go fangirl her on the Armchair. :D
And now for recs. Slytherlynx, I would like a progress report. :))
Recs. All Harry/Draco.
I've been really disappointed lately at the general lack of really good H/D fics I've seen--or rather, the ones I *haven't* seen. So over the past few days I've been on a quest to find some really good recent Harry/Draco writing, the kind that renews one's faith in the pairing, you know? And while some of this may be old--I don't think I've done a recs post since October--this is all refreshingly strong writing. The only thing that I wish is that there were more of them here, honestly--but I have to say I've had a blast catching up on so many fics lately. :)
If you're looking for something to read past what's here I also suggest strolling through my fics category under memories. There are currently 215 H/D fics linked there--and all of them are, I think, first class. There's bound to be *something* there you probably haven't read, haha. :)
In any case, I hope you'll enjoy all of these as much as I have, and hopefully find them inspiring, as I have. Authors, if I haven't yet reviewed your fics, I hope you'll accept this by way of a review.
"I like camomile tea."
"It tastes like urine."
"Don't be disgusting, Potter; I'd never drink camomile."
"Happiness Involving a Tea House" by nopejr. PG.
I had a hard time figuring out what to quote from this story because it's all so good. Nope is in classic form here, moving from a smooth and soothing and beautiful description of the classic English tea house on a cozy rainy day, to the sparkling, witty banter of Harry and Draco, reunited after the war in the most unlikely of places. It's so easy to get caught up in Nope's wit and humor and the snappy, easy pace with which this is written, that the subtle sweetness of this fic sort of creeps up on you. It's only in the spaces of this fic--the silences, the steam curling up from teacups, the easy batting away of a hand from a wrist--that you begin to realise that these are two people who have been waiting to run into one another for longer than they care to admit. This is a gorgeous little fic, and a first-rate example of why nopejr is one of the people who will get me to drop everything and come running to read his H/D fics. What strikes me most about this fic is how sharp and juxtaposed Harry and Draco's smooth and natural repartee feels against the backdrop of every tense thing that they aren't saying, every complicated memory and unspoken truth, and the lulling, safe and comfortable background of the tearoom with its bustling host and memorable caricatures of occupants. The best writers in the fandom make every detail count and every silence mean something, and that is the kind of thing that Nope does so well in this fic. It lingers with you, an entire lifetime of a story told in one poignant and lovely scene. I really don't have words for how much I admire this piece. I wish I'd written it.
They bought the house for the stairs. Harry saw the way Draco's eyes lit up at the sight of them and began measuring payments in his head as the realtor showed them the living room. The night they bought the house, they put pillows on the steps and slept there; the night they moved in, they made love from the wine cellar to the stars.
"Homesong" by tocomfortyou. PG.
To be as short as it is, this fic really packs a punch for me. Diana has done a wonderful job of gracefully capturing a lifetime of complicated emotions lived out in a single space. She doesn't succeed fully--occasionally she stumbles over her details and the tone wavers in its smoothness--but it doesn't matter to me one bit, because what really stands out in this fic is its vividness. All of the details are given to us with an eye for beauty and a deep sense of love; this is the kind of fic that you *feel* rather than read. It could very easily have been overwrought, but instead is transformed by the author's reliance on the subtlety of detail, which she uses to create the look, the feel, the living out of love, never stated outright but beautifully presented here through a series of powerful, unforgettable images of two men and a house. <3.
He leaves Draco with instructions to try again with the wash. Draco scowls even deeper than he has been, but he reluctantly nods, kissing Harry soundly and making him promise to be home no later than seven on Sunday.
“I shall burn down the entire building if you’re late,” he threatens, but Harry understands that to be the sort of empty threat that a spoiled eight year old would make.
“Of course you will,” he dismisses, returning Draco’s kiss. “I’ll see you on Sunday.”
“No later than seven!” reminds Draco, but Harry has already Apparated.
Draco scowls into the laundry basket.
"Laundry Days" by 142978. PG.
This fic is short and cute and delicious. Draco (poncy and stubborn and adorable here with all his "I shall do this!" and "I shall do that!"s) is as fanon as they come, and the cliched subject of Harry teaching him how to deal with the ins and outs of Muggle domesticity is treated here with affection and humor and originality. I predict that gay gay gay!Draco will seduce you with his winsome pout, and that you will not be able to resist the warm-fuzzy onslaught, try though you might.
There’s a corpse in the bathtub upstairs and Harry doesn’t know what to do with it.
"Newborn" by serialkarma. PG-13.
This short drabble by SK, a first-time HP writer, is as promising as it is trenchant. In a few paragraphs she effectively distills Harry's anger and darkness and desperation, all while turning what could be a darkfic of melodramatic and over-angsty proportions into a sharp little barb of a fic that reels you in and leaves you gasping. What's especially noteworthy here is the depiction of Harry's mental paralysis. This is one writer to keep your eyes on, and definitely one to pester for more. :)
He comes across them sometimes, laughing in the gardens, lounging in the library; Bellatrix always appraises Draco with her dark, wild eyes, and seems to find him amusing, like a toy. Narcissa never looks at him at all.
static. PG-13. only silence reigns here. just take it one day at a time.
Amalin has grown by furlongs in the fandom, from a writer of gracefully and beautifully expressed angst-fics, to a writer of subtle tensions and careful, unflinching character studies. As a writer she's among the short list of "sure bets" for me--those whose fics it is impossible not to love, who make the reading experience rewarding and full of discovery each and every time, no matter what they write.
This gut-wrenching Draco-centric fic is loosely inspired by another one, also by Amalin, which ends with the line, "Somewhere else, Draco shreds flowers in a cold marble house and waits for someone to remember who he is."
The truth contained in that line is what makes "static" so good and at once so heartbreaking. In this fic, which is concerned with a forgotten Draco amid the wartime siege of Malfoy Manor, Amalin expertly explores Draco's many, many levels of denial by exposing all his layers of self-deception with a devastating perceptiveness. The resulting hollowness is painful--and when Draco, alone and afraid, dreams of being with Harry again, back at Hogwarts in his inferior and degradating position of Gryffindor whipping post, it becomes nearly excruciating.
Although this is not explicitly slash, this fic deals with the question of Harry in Draco's life in such a way that Draco's almost obsessive need to have Harry there, if not in person, in his mind, becomes a force that is as destructive as everything else in his life. This is a beautiful, utterly heartbreaking and unforgettable portrait of the Draco Malfoy that everyone forgets.
He opened the present; a generic, environmentally friendly broomstick polish. Draco belatedly realized that it was the same notorious polish that Zabini had brought every year, though he didn’t own a broom, and threw away empty within three months.
"Tearing Paper Hearts" by sbbo. NC-17.
This fic could easily have been yet another unmemorable H/D pwp but for three things: 1) the setup for the scene is utterly delicious--Harry's deliberately ripping the paper in half is shuddery goodness. 2) the description of Draco's sense of awe and overwhelmed excitement as the 38-year-old virgin experiencing both sex *and* Harry at the same time is beautifully executed--done with a light, deft touch and warm affection, and in such a way as to render a fairly normal sex scene full of a sense of discovery and love. 3) The sex is really, really hot. :) This story is total Fluff-Without-Plot, done just the way I like it. :) And Sbbo gets extra points for prank-playing Goyle. <33333.
He remembers when nobody in the school believed that the war was going on. He remembers when it was just him, Ron, and Hermione.
When the War Ends by enarte PG.
Absolutely everything Eddy writes is lovely and subtle and fine. This short piece is no exception. The way she handles characterization here is striking--in the deceptive restraint of the dialogue and the passive tone that both underlines and undermines the emotional and physical exhaustion running through this piece. It's a perfect little ficlet.
The skin on my fingertips is wrinkled from being inside him, as if I had been in the hot bath for too long.
I’ve been in the hot bath of him for so long. Less than a year is left.
Where All Trains Go, by painless_j. NC-17.
There's a famous sequence from Billy Wilder's classic film noir Double Indemnity, where Barbara Stanwyck tells Fred MacMurray, "From now on, it's straight down the line for both of us." Later, it's pointed out, and then made irrevocably clear, that the train ride is a one-way trip, and the final stop is the grave.
The symbolism inherent here is something I can't shake as I read and re-read this fic, with all its stark desperation and barely controlled need and darkness. It's rare that a pure NC-17 fic that's both as short and smutty as this will leave the reader haunted by its recesses rather than by the graphic imagery upfront; but even while you're enjoying the beauty of the sexual imagery here, you're left troubled and unsatisfied by what's lurking around the edges of this fic. Are Harry and Draco, as they believe, on two trains passing in the night, headed on different journeys, lights crashing blindingly together once and then vanishing around a bend forever? Or are they, unknowingly --and what is so skillfully underlined in the title--on that same train, headed straight down the line together to their destruction? What jumps out at me upon reading and re-reading this fic is the way the delusions of these two boys in their obsession for one another have already gotten beyond their ability to control. The way P_J depicts this in the subtle desperation of Draco's tone as he narrates is absolutely masterful.
And this is from a first-time Harry Potter writer. Utterly wonderful. I can't get this one out of my head.
(Very) Conditional Rec: The Goodness of Their Hearts by Taratext. (novel-length.)
The list of things I don't like about this fic is long: for starters, it has some really catty and cruel references to women throughout that I think are purely unconscious on the part of the author, but which turned my stomach every time--the most notable being a reference to someone being "in heat," which quite honestly caused me to do a double take and re-read to see if I missed the part where the character was a Veela. When they're done through pov, such snipes are passable, but too many of them really began to grate on the nerves.
The other primary detriment is that the fic is completely devoid of canon in any way shape or form, except for a wildly OOC Harry and an all-grown-up Draco. There are no other familiar faces to be found in a cast of OCs and a landscape that has Draco opening up his own security agency. This is starkly different enough to remind me of Malfoy, P.I., although it is tonally completely removed from that other fic. I also want to say that its author is a little too fixated on psychology and on casually, pervasively defining the psyches of both of her main characters until you just want to shout "Okay, we know you took Psych 101 already, so please stop talking about impulse control!"
One final note on the negative side: I never figured out what the title had to do with anything other than as a vague general way of referencing Harry's loyalty--and no matter *what* your tolerance for plebe is, if you are like me, you will have to swallow the kneejerk revulsion at the fact that Quidditch-Player!Harry has shoulder-length hair, SIX STUDS in one ear, and a ridiculous contraption called a torque around his neck, which I think is supposed to be some sort of silver dog-collar, but which constantly made me think of steam engines and welding tools. Just indulge it and read on--his appearance doesn't come up that much, thankfully. :))
There is, however, a lot that I *do* like about it, and that's why I'm mentioning it. It's very nicely written--the dialogue is strong, and apart from the emphasis on psychological motivation, the characters are well-drawn and all of them are interesting--very impressive for a story that retains *no* familiar characters other than Harry and Draco. The plot is very unambitious and was, for me, completely negligible, secondary and predictable--the author states that the story is more mystery than romance, but I promise you, you will not read this fic for the suspenseful whodunnit storyline *yawn*. I really think that a more serious, less indulgent story could take her far. But the author works well with what she has, and she managed to keep me interested and move me right along with her for 17 short chapters (this fic is complete, by the way).
The most interesting thing she plays around with is the idea of sex as both a hindrance and a cornerstone of character development. Along with fairly yummy sexual tension, this is probably the most refreshing and interesting part of the entire story. This fic containst that rare gem--messy and unsatisfying first-time sex, but the result is to turn the ensuing sexual tension into something very realistic and very sweet. The late payoff when our heroes finally get their act together comes after they have both made an effort to re-examine how they view sex, and what role it plays in their lives, which is really something that you don't see a lot of fics explore with the same amount of concern and candidness--certainly not to the level of something like journalfen's establishment, which this H/D dynamic echoed in a very, very oblique way.
If you're not an H/D shipper you won't have much interest in this fic, but if you are, the odds are you'll probably find yourself enjoying it despite its many flaws. I did. It's definitely an indulgence, but we all need those; and I personally would like to see the author attempt to tackle a subject/storyline that's a little less escapist and more mature.
Preferably one where Harry doesn't have quite so many earrings.
(Okay. These don't fall under the category of "fics that restore your faith in the pairing," haha. But they are *delightful* for reasons which will be entirely obvious, haha. also i feel i should add that if you really want the BEST plebe recs around, look no further than orphne's journal. She recs the most hilarious fics ever, and her summaries are just as good as the fics themselves.)
“It’s still there!” Harry exclaimed.
“Yes. And if we could somehow access it-”
“We’d have a way to escape,” Harry finished. “It’s brilliant!”
“Not quite. There’s no way to get to it besides knocking down this wall.”
“Bugger! It’s always something, isn’t it?”
The Hogwarts Boys' Guide by m_elizabeth_m. The only thing better than a plebe fic is a revised plebe fic! This is an in-progress re-write of a fic you probably read at some point during your early sojourns onto ff.net called "Slide." Harry is gay, Draco is homophobic, and everybody is insecure in their sexuality! Random words are humorously mispelled! Voldemort kidnaps Harry, then drops him off at the Malfoys for a few days so Narcissa can serve him tea! Severus reads GQ! I love it. <33333
"Don't ever doubt that I want you, Harry. Don't ever doubt that you're beautiful. Don't doubt what you feel."
Metamorous by RagnarokSKurai. Harry and Draco have to pretend they're in love in order to thwart Voldemort! Oh, No! This fic is sappy and overwrought and schmoopy and terrible. I am absolutely addicted to it.
Pirates of the Caribbean. -- I know, I know. I have more recs than this, but I am lazy.
Linking elbows, the courtly gentlemen made their way out of the dressing room.
They'd got used to getting stuck in the door by now.
"Bull in a China Shop" by gileonnen.
Pairing: Pintel/Ragetti. PG-13.
Summary: A man's got to be respectable when he gives up piracy. And a respectable man can't be having any second-rate wooden eye.
I love this. It's perfectly in-character, funny, and sweet, with wonderful imagery and particularly nice dialogue--not to mention wonderful lines like, "Time to hang up the cutlass and figure out what a cravat was and if you ate it or wore it." And it makes Pintel/Ragetti (the two gay pirates) vastly more appealing to me as characters than they were in the movie, without doing anything more than letting them be themselves. :)
And finally, to end this post, a little bit of perfection that I hadn't read before, by my most favoritest favorite writer ever ♥ -- "Shacked Up", by astolat.
In other news, I think that the world needs to write dark, consensual Bellatrix/Harry PWPs. And draw smutty, consensual Bellatrix/Harry artwork to go with it. Mmmm.