Second: Have carried the stack of fannish delights just about everywhere. Chiropractor said, "Your font is so cool! Are you editing?" "No, commenting--squeeing, mostly." A man at the pub trying to chat me up near close asked the same, responded without looking up so he scoffed, "Just enjoying your life then?" which a) sure am trying & b) made me repeat, "No, enjoying friends' stories and art." The running theme since start of the fest.
Third: One page has nail varnish I spilled on myself & had to wipe off somewhere. Thankfully it's green on a Snape story, though we know how he feels about sparkling... Well, I framed him in it, but it's not the worst framing he's known.
Anyway, this was difficult. I enjoyed working my way through the whole fest; not a day disappointed me. Going through my stack, I ended up with 10 contenders for Top Recs plus some I had to mention, as well as my own gift. Have cheated my way down to 6-as-5 Top Recs & shall include the rest, then back to typing up my comments from the printed sheets for posting.
Rec ListIn order of posting...
Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall; G; Art; Fashion.
This is a quick-click entry very well worth the click, even if you're not a Harry Potter fan. Who doesn't like a look at beloved or reviled characters in their knickerbonkers & bloomers? Honestly, I had to rec this because I've done so in person: brought it to the pub the first night & the publican (a friend of mine) gave me some scissors, showed visitors to my station. I cut out Albus but he didn't fare the travels so well... Minerva & Severus are looking slightly bent out of shape & rightfully grumpy about it, but otherwise unharmed (whereas Dumbledore is missing his Santa hat & his slippers, poor dear, but no knickers to account for). Don't read my words, just go look! Print on tough paper! Cut out & creatively enjoy!
Robert McGonagall, Minerva McGonagall/Severus Snape; PG-13; 8,400 word story; 'A Christmas visit to Hogwarts gives Minerva's father a glimpse into her world and a chance for reconciliation.'
This was a fic I needed this year. Institutional religion can be...scary, alienating, invalidating or shaming; this fic is a reminder that religion itself, its lived faith, need be none of those things - all shown through Minerva's father, Robert, upon his Christmastime visit to Hogwarts. I love the look at the castle and its goings-on through his eyes. The portrayal of ageing, the differences between magical and Muggle lives, and the experience of familiar/foreign in families is profoundly done. Enjoyed this dimensional portrayal of Minerva: direct, no-nonsense, caring, thoughtful, funny, adaptive, guilty, vulnerable, insecure, defensive, proud... so many things a daughter can be. Truly glad to see this "missing moment" of Minerva's lives coming together. Will be slightly ashamed to post my comment since it's about 5 comments long but I really like this story.
Aberforth Dumbledore/Minerva McGonagall/Severus Snape; G; 1,835 words; 'Theirs isn't the sort of arrangement that involves spending the Christmas holidays together. It's only lunch on Thursday to keep a perfectly good goose from going to waste.'
I promise I wasn't looking to pick the first three entries of the fest, it's just coincidence...? This, to me, is a perfectly ideal Christmas: not really a Christmas at all, per say, excepting the day of the year - just gruffly happy circumstance of having Extra, & a few precious people worth the sharing. I love the writing, the clever commentary, the compassionate narrative, the characterisation... I'm also a sucker for long-running polycules, particularly ones not out for High Holiday Romance: arrangements that work out with less alcohol than one might expect, as the author & Aberforth put it. A quick and perfect Christmas feast all its own.
Molly Weasley; Teen; 2,883 words.
I consider this a reclamation & contextualising of Molly Weasley. It's economic but emotive and incredibly effective at starting the reader in Molly Weasley's young shoes & growing up with her in key moments of her life. Covers the importance of teaching, of student receptivity, and of those moments when our educational & extra-curricular needs are thrown upon us - how it's all in the choices we make following those moments that build us up. This story builds Molly Weasley in a familiar and fierce way. Aspiring Housewife to Arse-Kicking Home-Protector. Incredibly-written: give it a read.
Hogwarts Professors; PG; 7,000 words; 'The trials and tribulations of Ebenezer Snape.'
Hogwarts Professors; PG; 1,600 words; 'Missing scene from OotP: what happens after Minerva is attacked by the Aurors?'
I put these two together because a) I was having a damnable time trying to pick between the two & b) they come off as such similar fics to me from different directions. In the second it's the breath-holding moments between a beloved character's mortal wounding & hopeful news for recovery; in the first it's the welcoming back of a beloved character after what could be considered time of sickness & dis-ease, very near death. Also both contain Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank, of whom I'm terribly fond...
Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot? has my favourite Triad again and a number more fine professors. Full of all the most fun ways to kindly torture a soul for the holidays in simple, thoughtful acts - plus incredibly clever lines, a compassionate view regarding the hardships of sickness & a perfectly glorious Wilhelmina--Head of Gryffindor House!--set to lead a waltz with Aberforth. Poor Severus gets treated to all the magics of friendship.
The Longest Night is a short tale of friends who Really Care - enough to fall apart in a private place, save a friend from a scary space, get the boot for trying to help, or get shoved out for hovering when a beloved friend bravely falls in the face of injustice. Together, friends of Minerva gather to think of her and care for each other in what amounts to something similar to a prayer circle eventually relieved by an owl we know they must have received. It's darling to see what little discoveries they make of one another through the long night of waiting on Minerva's health. Definitely a "missing moment" for the books.
A brave Filch who's capable of learning, a young Weasley with no crap to take, and a brilliantly-done Snape with a hopeful end as a more successful dark foil to Dumbledore’s supposed light. Enjoyed this tale immensely.
For Contemplating Classics & Calling Out Patronising Patriarchy...
I read this fic for August Longbottom and wasn't disappointed when she started calling the shots. Garrick is meant to be a touch exasperating & pulls it off admirably, with Augusta taking None Of It right down to explaining mansplaining to his face. I love the way she stands up for herself and literature of all kind, and for casting the question, "What is a Classic?" - one well worth considering. And don't I love the idea of Augusta Longbottom (& Co) running a bookstore on Diagon Alley...?
For Ecology and Backstory...
Garrick Ollivander was fairly popular this year; of his stories, this is likely my favourite. It portrays him as a precociously bright mind in his field and shows how he got there: natural calling, early training under the tutelage of multiple generations and access to one of the ecologically-coolest places I've ever read. His family's a laugh as well. I'm a sucker for wand-lore & this story is packed with it. Smiled to see the definition of 'copse' in the Author's Notes. This was the General-Audiences Garrick piece I was looking for.
For Handwritten Loveliness...
I'm living for the handwritten recipes of Rosmerta Boniface (a name which made me smile) between pieces of her story; I'd like to try the recipes someday. It's similar to the last story in containing a strong sense of lineage, this time a matrilineal line of hedgewitches - right up to a granny who mingled with pirates.
Ship Ship Shurgay!
Who's my Ship Ship Shurgay? Irma Pince/Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank (we're utterly shocked she's involved - shocked). A cute Christmas Contest one could imagine happening at Hogwarts, some lovely guests, a few hot scenes & one of my new favourite ships. I'm sold.
For How to Grow a Publican...
A story of how much it matters to end up in the right places and find care from the right people - how that can work out for a lifetime through generations. A lovely look at "paying it forward" in the magical world of pubs, & the powerful professional lineage of Aberforth Dumbledore. Loved seeing the dealings with & understanding trauma in this piece.
For Future Tutorials I'd Like...
I admire this artwork every year & these are four new favourites. Absolutely the artist I'd job-shadow or watch endless tutorials from if I could! Brings the Harry Potter world to life in all its textured glory.
For the Coolest Way to STFU a Portrait...
Utterly enamoured with the idea of a Hogwarts Stich'n'Bitch Club headed by the Headmistress herself, including Renowned Bitch Pince & Hufflepuff-Prickly Pomona Sprout. A realistic problem presented with a truly creative solution - & who doesn't want to think of McGonagall making a good rugby player...?
And play they do! Naughty naughty, you'll get caughty... But caught up in each other seems to be what they're into when their Secret Santa turns Filibusted. Leaves a whole bunch of unsupervised Christmassy fun up to the imagination; watch out for the lingerie, a very sweet moment.
And with that it's back to typing up comments from my scripted scribbles. My chiropractor raved enough about my handwriting to make me wish I could do it up right, but until I've managed to script & programme a computer font it's the keyboard for me. Takes longer & am behind but so lovely to have printed copies for carrying around.
Going to see how much more I can get through before I curl up with my dog for sleep; he'll be relieved when I'm back to reading books as he's quite frightened of my constantly-turning pages (& I'm not allowed to tap my papers straight around him, must arrange by hand or my cowardly lion gets scared). Vitamin injection on the morrow & testing this new-old phone for ridesharing capabilities. Shall see.
Away with me...
[Crossposted from dreamwidth.]