A few more of my favourites from the last week or so of posting:
1. Fallow Fields (Pomona Sprout/Severus Snape, R, 20,000 words). Summary: Series of behind-the-scenes moments between Pomona, Severus & a few others.
Wait, come back! If your eyes glazed over when you saw the pairing and wordcount, please give this story another try. It's one of the best of the fest, IMO, written with emotional delicacy and a quiet intensity that makes the words fly by. This is a wonderful Pomona, capable, confident and kind - the perfect woman, in other words, to pick up and heal a lame duck like Severus Snape. But it isn't quite that simple, because Severus has plenty to offer in return. This story follows them from an inauspicious beginning through nearly two decades of interaction, never forgetting the influences and effects of the broader social canvas.
As he reached to reseal it, Pomona froze, suddenly noticing the dark smudge on that arm whose details could now more easily be made out - a hideous skull's mouth from which a snake protruded. Her mouth went dry at the sight and she fought to swallow, unable to tear her eyes away from it.
"Want a better look?"
In her horrified fascination, she had not seen Severus notice her, and she started as he stepped up now, a scowl on his face as he held his bared, now clean arm, in front of her face.
"I'd prefer it if people asked, instead of sneaking about hoping to catch a glimpse," he muttered darkly. His tone and expression made him seem older, dangerous.
Pomona blinked, suddenly feeling vexed.
"And I'd prefer it if people didn't assume I sneak about in my own greenhouses," she snapped back, satisfied to see him look momentarily startled. "I'd come in to check on the state of the potatoes with eye-lice, young man, and you are the one intruding in my domain, not the other way around."
He considered this and seemed to relax. He suddenly realised he was still holding his bared arm out to her and she was intrigued to see him blush, before pulling his arm back to him. He held it, she noted, against his chest as if it pained him.
"Does it hurt?"
He frowned, before looking down at his arm. Snape shook his head.
"Well, it doesn't bother me," she asserted quite truthfully now. "Just looks like an unfortunate choice of tattoos."
This said, she turned from him and headed toward the corner of the greenhouse where the afflicted potatoes waited.
She did not have to check behind her to know he stood watching her, flustered and uncertain, a callow young man once again and not a dangerous Death Eater.
The story is posted on Dreamwidth due to length; if you enjoy, please pop back to the IJ post to let the author know.
2. A Dictionary of Silence (Alastor Moody/Remus Lupin, 2,500 words, R. Summary: Moody is a man of few words, but he has a hundred varieties of silence.
This is a lovely portrait of two damaged men finding a kind of fulfilment with each other.
Moody's mug is half empty already. Remus watches him take another swig, face impassive except for that constantly spinning eye.
He ought to make conversation, but everything they have in common is about the Order and James and Lily and Harry and Peter and don't mention Sirius, which is still so raw that he aches with it. His throat closes up.
There's a whizz and then a bang outside, the sound of fireworks, and a few of the customers look up. Moody scowls.
"Seen enough explosions for a lifetime," he mutters.
It's true. In the week since James and Lily died there have been fireworks every night. Remus has been startled awake by the noise, still nerved to expect hostile spells.
"Yes," he says, voice rasping.
After the fireworks subside the silence doesn't feel so awkward. When Moody finishes his pint he walks to the bar and returns with two tankards. Once they drink those, Remus buys a round. It's not companionable, exactly, but it's better than being alone.
3. Two Capable Women (Irma Pince/Minerva McGonagall, R, 6,700 words). Summary: A great many dreadful things have befallen the Hogwarts staff over the years, but the motivational training by Wilberforce (Bertie) Arbuthnot counts among the worst. However, Irma and Minerva rise to the occasion with the fortitude one may expect of two very capable women.
The author's tongue is firmly in cheek throughout this excellent story, a tale of Gryffindor derring-do and Slytherin cunning in which the Hogwarts professors face their greatest challenge yet: the motivational training instructor.
They were simply born to be best friends.
Everyone said so.
Repeatedly and emphatically.
It did no good at all.
“Irma’s mother and I have been very close ever since our own school days, and I recommend her most strongly,” said Muriel Prewett, Chairwoman of the Hogwarts Board. “She’ll not only be an excellent addition to the staff; she’ll make a very suitable friend for you, Minerva.
“It’s important to have good friends, especially for an unmarried woman. Now for me, it was easy. I have always played my part in Society, and a rather prominent part too, if I say so myself. But for someone in your position – a schoolteacher’s life is so much more restricted – Irma will be a godsend. Mark my words.”
Muriel Prewett had clearly given the matter much careful thought.
“Irma Pince?” said Poppy when Minerva gave her a summary of the latest Board Meeting in which the words ‘infuriating’, ‘meddlesome’, and ‘busybody’ figured rather prominently. “Yes, I remember her well. She was several years above me – a Slytherin. Frightfully clever. Always with her nose in a book. Never mind Muriel Prewett; I can assure you you’ll enjoy meeting Irma, really, you will.”
When a professional reassurer such as Healer Pomfrey sets to work, she deserves to succeed. It wasn’t her fault that she didn’t.
4. And some art to finish: Constant Vigilance (Sybill Trelawney/Alastor Moody, NC-17). Summary: Sybill entertains a guest and Alastor finds that, once again, constant vigilance pays off. I love how happy both characters look in this!