Was able to work on this post around friends, including in the little chair my platonic partners got for me at their place called the “Minerva Chair” with green crushed-velour fabric flung over a little armchair and a lovely old ottoman for putting up my spurred boots. Currently curled up beneath a throw blanket on the futon. One housemate left Blue Planet on the telly & my other young housemate fell asleep over on the floor; in the background I’m learning about penguins in the Antarctic regions. Now to check all this coding…)
I am, as always now, late to the party - and later still for the comments, but all of Hoggywartyxmas/ hoggywartyxmas has been taken in and enjoyed now, so I can at least offer my recommendations as the comments wait to be owled off.
What a festival it was this year. Much seemed to revolve around Albus Dumbledore and the choices he made, the lives he impacted, the acknowledgement of his part in everything and awareness of others' perceptions--mostly told by other voices and less from his own. I quite enjoyed it! So many new looks at canon.
As for the recs... Well, I made myself pick five as Top Recs, but that shall hardly stop me from singing the praises of a few more, all chosen before seeing the authors (but including them here).
Title: 'Do Badgers Dream of Chocolate Hobnobs?'
Summary: Pomona Sprout decided that Albus Dumbledore had his own agenda and there might be more to the Potions Master than met the eye; or, what happens when people underestimate a badger.
Gen - ~5,500 words - Severus Snape, Pomona Sprout, Filius Flitwick, Minerva McGonagall, Albus Dumbledore, Horace Slughorn, Hogwarts+
I knew this would be a fast favourite as soon as I opened it - and not just for my love of Pomona Sprout and Hobnobs (which this Badger here will always dream of, as a Coeliac who may never touch them again). I really flip-flopped between this story and the next as the first to recommend; to be truthful they go hand-in-hand for me as two favourite characterisations of old favourite characters. The Pomona in this story is not only intelligent - like Filius - but also smart, and in so many ways. And *perceptive*, which is a thing I love to read in Pomona stories and this one has in spades.
I adore Pomona's awareness of the Snape situation and her small attempts to help, the humanity of her assuming the 'flickering light of decency' must have died in Severus Snape, letting him come in all the same when she saw him out smoking in the cold, and 'betraying' Minerva to speak up for the lad.
The staffroom scenes are to die for; and for me, the little ways Pomona nudges things along or plays the certain part cast her way. I'll not soon forget the scene in which Severus learns the Head Staff do not always agree with the Head of School, and the implications or actions there. And the Chess - yes, yes indeed.
Endless adoration for the way the characters seem to know what's going on - or notice enough to beware they can't know it all, and can't change it too much - while still doing all they can to amend things situationally. I loved reading all the characters in this story.
How astute and clever Pomona is, and what an excellent reader of people, quick enough on her feet to get away from trouble. I shan't share the turning-point or the best supporting characters, but unf, all my faves.
In short: read this story.
Title: 'A Bit of Earth Beneath the Feet'
Summary: Sometimes a woman does what she feels is right, and neither asks permission nor looks back.
PG-13 - 8,400 - Minerva McGonagall & Remus Lupin
Of course the four paragraphs of rec I wrote a moment ago just disappeared. Thankfully this story is worth raving about twice—sadly not as well the second time, alas.
The warning in this story mentions a potentially OOC (Out-of-Character) Minerva, but I would have to seriously debate that. She's fierce, clever, inventive, supportive, scheming, a little reckless and ultimately compassionate; she acts as precisely the advocate Remus Lupin needed and lit the fire under some of her students’ arses with hardly their notice. She reads as powerful but flawed in a similar way to her presentation in the books, which is ultimately a very IC representation.
I know the character of Remus Lupin is meant to represent a similar experience to someone with AIDS, and thus other experiences of disability and prejudice. There is little more important in such stories than good advocacy and having someone trustworthy in one's corner. As someone who grew up with medical problems and disability that started young, reading this story meant much.
The story itself was a lovely read, too: the cyclical nature of it, the pacing, the growing/ageing viewpoints, the lines, the characterisations and the connections between the characters. It's easy to see the growing trust and rapport – right to the bitter end we much expected retold with heart-breaking simplicity.
I'd have to consult my comments, but I'm fairly sure this was the Hoggywartyxmas story to make me cry. Well done - well done indeed. I even liked reading of the young Marauders, and their quest to be good friends - friends as good as Minerva turned out to be.
Title: 'Slumming with the Staff'
Summary: It's Christmas week 1992 and Gilderoy Lockhart was easily coaxed to share with us his journal. I've included some drawings as well, to clarify things.
NC-17 - Art & Words - Gilderoy Lockhart, Madam Rosmerta, Sybill Trelawney, Severus Snape, Filius Flitwick, Albus Dumbledore, Pomona Sprout, Minerva McGonagall (almost)
Appreciation for all of this entry, start to finish - the warning for 'Some wanking' and 'come on, it's me, of course there's some wanking' - which makes it right up my alley. And the clarifications, oh me oh my. This is truly a piece of art.
The format of each journal page is *smacks lips* mwuah, perfect for the ridiculous character of Gilderoy Lockhart. He sure seems to bring out some of my favourite things: Rosmerta's scrappy diplomacy, surprise UST, games, Albus' sense of self-preservation, Pomona's scheming side and eye for fine fashion, Minerva's catty responses, and surprise appreciation from Severus.
I can barely comprehend the time and skill that went into this entry. Seven full pictures (8 with the journal itself) plus the written narrative - and oh, it's a hoot.
I'll try one for my own day: Compliments Received, 3 (including my compliment to the mirror). Drinks, 0 (housemate brought up lavendar mead, so I may have to change that). Cigarettes, 0 (but I may go puff on something else a moment...). Spontaneous Erections, regrettably none due to physiological difficulties, though I did get an interesting piece of anatomy stuck on my jumper. - Yes, I can see why such a journal might be fun, if not precisely frugal (and whoever should expect such a thing from Lockhart?)
My exploits are quite tame compared to Gilderoy Lockhart's, so you'll just have to go take a look. Mind the little bit of Severus that pops up, though, or you might get all wrapped up too.
(And for the record, this story fit one of my more frequent tests of a room: if Severus Snape's cock comes up - conversationally, of course, if not conservatively - ‘tis a question of who inquires as to the proof, which is sometimes in the pudding, or in this day & age 'pic or it didn't happen'. This story most certainly happened.)
Title: 'Tower Dwellers'
Summary: On Christmas Eve, Aurora takes in the universe, and the neighbouring turret. Which is further away?
PG - ~3,400 - Aurora Sinistra, Sybill Trelawney
The summary says much. This story, for all the darkness of it, was so much fun to read for the lyrical writing of it, the thoughtful content, and the strong character of Aurora Sinistra. Her solitude and the reasons for it are made palpable by the story-telling. I love her friendship with the stars - and her growth toward being willing to try something similar with someone (somewhat) closer to the ground.
A fascinating look at the Harry Potter setting, its characters and timeline, and the similarities and differences between two towers of Hogwarts and their occupants. All told, a fine story well worth the read.
Title: 'Peace on Earth' or 'That Christmas with the Carrows'
Summary: In 1997, not a single student spends the holidays at Hogwarts. The Heads of Houses are furious at what their new colleagues have turned their school into. So, at that year's student-less Christmas dinner...
G - At Least 1,000 Words (in the form of a Picture) - The Carrows, Filius Flitwick, Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall, Pomona Sprout, Horace Slughorn, a wandering Turkey
What a picture! The full-cast aspect is remarkable, with so very much going on, as would be expected of such a Christmas gathering. I think perhaps what brought me to the "rec it!" place is the "wreck it!" faces: Pomona's expression of fierce detest (and an attack to go with it) is truly inspiring, as is Minerva's pointed attack from on high, Filius' consideration for the moment and what to do, Horace's rather Zen posturing (still defensive, poised for offensive) and Severus' resigned defeat (there’s no winning for him either way).
I love the artwork of this contribution. The Christmas colouring and props, the detailed characters compared to the simple background sketching, the details of the food and flightless fowl. I can completely see something of the sort happening.
If ever there were a year for a Staff Food Fight, it would indeed be that one! And what a fight it is.
In the name of friendship…
Title: 'Though Much Is Taken'
Summary: Some people can still take you by surprise even when you've been friends with them for almost a hundred years. Rolanda should know.
PG - 2,500 - Rolanda Hooch, Augusta Longbottom
Can't say how much I support a 100+ year old friendship between Augusta Longbottom and Rolanda Hooch. We got to see some of Augusta and Minerva's friendship in the books - or hear of it, at least - but this takes the cake. Their lines back and forth are consistently laugh-out-loud funny; the reader can feel the decades of friendship, shared experience, and awareness of each other these two share. So many hilarious lines and inclusions.
I, for one, would happily read a world with a Dark Lady Augusta Longbottom. Can definitely bet I'll take an Auror/Rebel Augusta Longbottom with a sidekick assist from Rolanda and the trusted Old Girl Network at Hogwarts and beyond. The fighting spirit is strong in Augusta Longbottom - and in this story.
Summary: When two Unspeakables set out on a bright summer day to continue their arcane research into holy wells, no one, least of all Argus Filch and Evadne Norris, expects it to end as it does. The bitterness of life without magic is pervasive, corrosive, and there is little light to find their way. One day, though, they'll walk that sunny path again.
PG-13 - ~8,000 - Argus Filch, Mrs Norris, others
This is a rarity for me: headcanon accepted on the existence and background of a one Mrs Norris, cat-friend of Argus Filch, and his own canon as well.
I always wondered how it was that a Squib came to work at Hogwarts, a place which seems renowned for hosting strays, runaways and rescues. It's just like magic - old magic, at that - to take things and turn them upside-down in such a tremendous and permanent way. What was beautiful in this story was watching the characters adapt to their new present and settle into the canon we know. Fairly believably, too. It's descriptive and enjoyable to read. Mrs Norris really steals the show, as does Argus' growing sense of agency and ability to assist the castle. His learning, his doing, his thinking and feeling and fixing… This story brings the best out of Argus Filch and the character we know him to be, plus a whole new world beyond, and all about a favourite character of mine for reading deeper than canon delivers, as this story seems to across all lines.
Bonus points for Poppy Pomfrey and for Argus Filch getting to be happy. That and the exploration of old, earthen magic as contrasted against the Big Events of the Harry Potter era. This is the sort of story I read fanfic for: it made me think. What a glorious opportunity.
The scene that needed to happen…
Title: 'The Show Must Go On'
Summary: Some performances, however good they are, tend to annoy rather than impress.
None - 4,500 - Plenty of Filius Flitwick, Albus Dumbledore and Irma Pince
The show must go on - however much Irma makes a glorious show-stopper. I didn't know how much I needed to read Irma Pince calling Albus Dumbledore out for his employment decisions and their relation to her library. The tenderness of the final scene was a lovely finishing touch. So many brilliant lines and valid points, with Filius as a sword-sharp narrator.
If you want to read a roast of Albus Dumbledore, have at it here!
For setting the scene…
Title: "I Pray You, Be Merry"
Summary: Pomona never understood why everyone at Hogwarts was oblivious to the war going on around them.
G - 3,000 - Pomona Sprout and Others
This is a setting and a callout @ Hogwarts I wanted to see, through a young, angsty version of a character I revere. The whole “don’t talk about it” thing never seemed to work at Hogwarts and Pomona was frankly done with it; I admire her particular flavour of skiving and giving a bit o’ the birdie. To be frank, I spent a great deal of time admiring their Muggle healthcare system & networking – was a bit green with envy over it as a youthly-crippled wee sod in the Great Divided Isles of ‘Merica.
That running refrain of ‘merry and bright – but not all right’ until it was, sort of, and all so well-acknowledged. This young Pomona is a fierce little todger of a badge. Can positively see how she’d grow into the Pomona we see through our Dreamy Hobnob story of this year. Brilliant story, truly: captures a moment in history through new eyes in a fairly profound way, and with such an empathetic, outspoken character. It was a joy to read and ended just as one might hope. Well worth a read.
I do still wonder about Dippet. Personally can’t stop picturing the “red lines” comment from one of the fics – ‘Though Much Is Taken’, was it? – about Tom Riddin’ Riddle’s school file. It was nice to see him in a different light.
Ship ship shurrah…
Title: 'Silent Night'
Summary: When Poppy insists that Minerva take a little time on her own in Scotland over Christmas, memories and regrets about a certain colleague threaten to make it anything but a happy holiday.
G - ~2,100 - Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape
Title: 'The Rose that Lived'
Summary: Augusta Longbottom wants to see her grandson properly appreciated. All else follows.
PG - 5,055 - Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape
Given my lifelong dedication to the Old Lady Smut Brigade, I’m not sure how many are aware of my soft spot for McGonagall/Snape & their ‘snark’ (*cough* ‘aggressive flirting’), but what a weakness it is. One I often enough like to exploit.
In ‘Silent Night’ I adore the language itself, the clear sense of aching for companionship on Minerva’s part (and her history with her friends as much as with Severus), the delightful angst, the Christmas ornaments and the resolution. I thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas read. It hits all the right emotions in all the right places.
In 'The Rose that Lived' I think the thing that struck me most was the little surprise success of Augusta's: not in her entire enterprise, but in one man's somewhat subversive reaction to it - and how beloved that response becomes. It shows a certain Severus in a light I quite enjoyed, as I did for the rest of the fic, and for the blessed epistolary exchange between Severus and Minerva. The levels on which they interacted and the care with which they took in their personal and interpersonal boundaries... enjoyed their exchanges very much and the writing/format was fun to read as well, with a lovely surprise ship to boot!
Those character moments…
Title: 'Cross-Pollinated Bindweed and the Christmas Spirit'
Summary: It’s the end of term and everyone is looking forward to the pupils going home.
G - 2,550 - Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Severus Snape, Hermione Granger
Title: 'Negotiated Settlement'
Summary: Narcissa realises that her boy is too stupid to be let out in the world without a guiding hand.
PG13 - 3,500 - Narcissa Malfoy and a whole cast of characters.
'Cross-Pollinated' was a laugh start to finish - allergic to pupils, what a peculiar and particular condition I could totally see happening to dear Sevvy - but had to be mentioned for one scene which was one of those "best of" moments to read regarding a favourite character:
After lunch McGonagall decided to take a stroll around the perimetry of the building. This was not so much for the sake of her health, but to root out various pairs who had suddenly realised they wouldn’t see each other for at least two weeks and seemed to be intent on making up for it in advance.
As she walked McGonagall sang:
Ten green bottles hanging on the wall
Ten green bottles hanging on the wall
And if the headmistress should drink one instead of letting it fall
There’d be nine green bottles hanging on the wall
Except she made sure the words she was singing weren’t the words the pupils heard. The song had its desired effect, and she was rewarded by seeing various students rush out from their hiding places and head rapidly for where they were, in fact, supposed to be.
It shan't be the last time I imagine that occurring, is all I'm saying.
And 'Negotiated Settlement' - oh, what a negotiator Narcissa Malfoy is. Epistolary stories are perhaps my greatest weakness of all, or at least follows closely after complex kickarse female characters. Narcissa here proves herself to be one of the Slytherins all ought tip a hat to - and I love the way she works the system. Nor can I deny how much I wished the Older Generation our brightest witch shacked up with were a bit more floral of a Malfoy than the one she snagged. XD Either way, I loved it for Narcissa and all the fantastic coding! Such a riot to read.
There we have it – my read of the Hoggywarty crop this year and far too late in the sharing of it, but here it is.
Some astute characters this year - all catching each other’s drifts or whiffs of the trail or a catch of some serious tail. The Roast of Albus Dumbledore went off mostly without hitch, save a mortified painting here or there. Some fun new pairings and some pretty brilliant worldbuilding. Another incredible year! Very glad to have read; shall be sharing more in the comment domain as soon as they’re all finalised, which may take a while but is teaching me plenty. May it put me in better working order next year to participate again – can cross fingers.
A whole decade of partying. Whodduthunk it? Why, anyone who’s ever attended, that’s who. Bit of a “duh” really.
Away I go, hopeful of posting comments before ruddy Valentine’s day! XS
[Crossposted from dreamwidth.]