I haven't been to my review thread over at FA for a long time for a number of reasons, mostly computer-related; but I just stopped by tonight whilst submitting my fic.
There is *so* much love coming out of FA, you know. I mean, just so much sheer enthusiasm and eagerness, and reading some of these reviews makes me relive the way I felt when I first joined the fandom.
There are reviews for Blue Jeans!Harry, and the readers are responding to the hotness factor; but when you're reading their reviews, you understand that they're not talking about hot in terms of how they look. It's just a question of who Harry is, who Draco is. Putting Harry in blue jeans was an excuse to drool over something very superficial, but that's not why we love him--not what people are responding to.
There's this review by a user called thrnbrooke for my fic "Assurance"--and all it says is this:
Awwww. He won't regret it! He won't!
I love that. I love that there's so much hope and earnestness there. Of course he won't regret it--because it's Harry, it's Draco, they're in love and destined to be together forever, always and always, even after death. I love that certainty.
There are these lovely recent reviews by people like abilizersparkle and dark_eyed_amy and idroppedarice -- some of whom just go through and, like, read everything in sequence, and leave a review every single time. I don't say enough how much I appreciate that. It's hard to do so on a format like the FA boards where you can't actually reply to someone directly, but only edit in a note to their post, which they will only see if they happen to return to the review board; but then again, there are repeat reviewers--people like Amorina Weasley, who revisit a fic after a long period of time and take a moment or two to tell me how their perspectives have changed since the first time they read it; and people like the lovely lily403 who returned to my review board on a regular basis to give me encouragement and scold me for not updating, and who just generally made me feel terribly, terribly flattered and fortunate to have such fantastic, wonderful readers.
Then there is darklites' review of a fic I wrote called "Every Second," and I swear her review is so beautiful and insightful and hope-filled, that every single time I read it, I wind up crying. Because, really, her review has less to do with my fic, and so much more to do with the world in general: with what we search for in it--with the connections we all strive to make to one another, and the desperate way we need to believe that those connections are real. Reading what she wrote always takes me right to the center, to the raw emotional core of Love Under Will and why I started writing it.
I really, really don't talk enough anymore about that emotional core--maybe because popular fandom opinion in recent times has seemed to swing towards the sentiment that having an OTP is silly, childish, or overly simplistic. And I have held my tongue about that; but I think really, maybe I shouldn't have. Because there are so many of us out there who just fall in love and stay in love, even after love has been wrenched terribly away from us; there are so many of us who have a need to believe that love is forever, and that of all things in this world, love is the one thing that is always worth hoping for and believing in, and choosing.
I think that more than anything else, my love of H/D is a product of my needing to constantly choose love, in all its affirming power. It might have a lot to do with the pairing, with the fact that anybody who believes in the permanence of a deep abiding relationship formed out of so much passion and hate and antagonism and real barriers, is somebody who tries their best to hold on to something at all costs. But then again, it might just have to do with me needing to hold on to something, to ground myself with something that is both real to me and at the same time completely fantastical, allegorical, and absurd: Harry/Draco fanfiction. Few things are more absurd and beautiful and worthwhile than believing in a love that has no chance. And few things are more compelling to me than the fact that, by writing about it, by putting our love and affection, our best selves, even, into the stories we write and respond to, we are constantly proving the lie: the love of these two fucked up little boys will always have a chance, will always persevere, will always be alive and strong and real, every time we believe in it.
I do believe in fairies. I do believe in H/D. And etc. It means something. It's real.
Earlier today, dorrie6 posted this lovely, wonderful ficlet called "Umbrellas" and dedicated it to me, for no real reason that I can see other than that she is an absolute sweetheart and this is just how big her heart is. Anyway, after reading it, I remarked to a friend that it had been too long since I really just let myself appreciate the value of fluff for fluff's sake. When I first got to the fandom, pretty much everything I wrote was fluff. And that was well and good, but it's far too easy for me to look back on early fics I wrote, like the Laundry fic or something, and cringe because they're just so fluffy. But really--why is that a bad thing? All fluff fic is, really, is an expansion of the happiest possible endings we can imagine for ourselves: pure escapist fantasy where all there is is love.
There's no telling how many wonderful fluff fics are out there that I haven't read yet. I read one earlier tonight that made me really happy. It's a little ficlet called "Toast" by idroppedarice, and all it is is an everday, potentially boring scene from the domestic life of a blissfully in-love Harry and Draco, in the ambiguous future. Why is it so good? Because it is hopeful, and happy, and simple, and it doesn't try to be anything other than just what it is: a little slice of happiness, and love.
It's strange to say this when you're talking about a fandom that is so focused on romantic pairings: but sometimes, I think happiness and love are underrated. We value the kinky, the dark, the smutty, the twisted, especially in slash: we see those things as sophisticated, somehow; we see a writer who can dash off multiple pairings as having true talent.
To me, though, all of that seems terribly superficial, in a way. I have loved H/D for going on three years now, and that seems like a terribly long time considering that I don't think I am at all the same person I was three years ago. My greatest fear in terms of writing LUW has never been that I wouldn't finish it, but that I would outgrow the need to write it--that I would grow out of my fic, and out of love with my characters. But I haven't; somehow, I haven't; and just as it takes a great deal of patience, humility, and commitment to stay in a long-term relationship, I honestly think that takes a great deal of those things to stay with an OTP and write it for a number of years.
That isn't to say that all the other kinds of fics are bad, but rather, there is a certain kind of writer, the OTP writer, that I really think is significantly undervalued in this fandom. There are certain writers--cinnamon, tara, maya, olivia, fran, plu, chiya, aesc, dahlia, vinagrette, dorrie, zionsstarfish, sabershadowkat, just to name a bunch of examples at the drop of a hat--that I love knowing that I can always count on to write H/D. They are sure things, in a way, because I know that regardless of how we write our OTP, we all love it; and if one of them were to declare that they had a new favorite pairing, I would feel very sad and somehow disappointed. Yesterday in the middle of the Crazy H/D Project, smoopy commented and said "It's pretty safe to say I'll never stop writing for this ship." That just makes me happy. Whether or not she actually does stop writing for the pairing--just the amount of enthusiasm and passion and commitment behind that comment is something that really moves me, every time I come into contact with it. I don't think we stop and appreciate that enough--and how important people like this are to the core and the heart of the fandom, regardless of what pairing they ship.
He wasn't so perfect, but Harry couldn't help but feel that he should be.
That's a line from "Toast". I think, in a way, it's the most beautiful things I'll ever read. Because it's what love is. I don't think I stop and appreciate that enough.
I guess, what all this is trying to say is that I really love the heart of my pairing, not only for what H/D represents to me--the love that it's about--but because of all the love that each of you who ships it with me bring to it.
And that, too, is how I feel about the fandom as a whole. During the Imax showing, when Harry was casting the Patronus, I closed my eyes for a second and just let myself bask in the knowledge that every single person in that great big room was there because they loved that little boy onscreen--we all love Harry.
That means something, I think. All that love, channeled towards one place, means something.