First up: Come Back to Haunt You, Moaning Myrtle/Minerva McGonagall, background Minerva McGonagall/Amelia Bones, 4000 words, rated Teen. Summary: Nothing about love makes sense.
There have been a few Myrtle stories this year, and all of them have succeeded, I think, in making her something more than her canon caricature. This one takes its starting point from the fact that Myrtle and Minerva must have been near-contemporaneous (is that a word?) at Hogwarts, at least if you subscribe to the original backstory/assumptions about Minerva's age. It's a sweet, moving and occasionally funny look at second chances with two characters who have known each other for sixty years.
“You’re back from the funeral,” she said.
“Yes,” I replied. “And a very proper one it was.”
She leaned closer, so that her nose came within an inch of my own. I could feel the slight chill that always emanated from her.
“You’re not crying, Minnie.”
“Your eyes aren’t even red!”
I looked at the mirror above the sink, where I saw my familiar lined face, framed by frizzy black hair: nothing less, nothing more.
“They’ve been green for seventy two years,” I said. “Five longer than yours, I dare say.”
Myrtle drew back, assessing me, lips tightened. “Do you know what they’re saying about you in the Prefects’ Bathroom?”
The combativeness of her voice startled me. “Usually I don’t much care to know,” I said. “You know that.” One could lose hours to gossip with Myrtle.
“You’d like to know this.”
“I’m not so sure, Myrtle.”
“They’re saying you were Amelia’s—“
My stomach dropped in premonition.
For the first time that day, I felt something out of the ordinary: a sudden wave of nausea, a shiver, a sudden narrowing of my field of vision. I heard a ringing in my ears so strong and disorienting it caused me first to grasp the edge of the sink and then to retreat to my sitting room, where I sank down onto the couch and tried to clear my head.
Myrtle followed—less out of concern for me, I suspected, than a sense that the topic wasn’t yet finished. “Minnie! How could you keep a secret like this from me, for all this time?”
The tears were about to come, I could sense it. “Myrtle.”
“After all these years! I thought you were my friend!”
“I am, Myrtle.”
“You never tell me anything!
“Myrtle, be sensible.”
“No one ever tells me anything!” Myrtle began to wail. “I might as well be dead, for all anyone cares!”
The ringing was becoming louder. I pressed my fingers in my ears and squeezed my eyes shut.
“Out, Myrtle,” I said, my voice strange to my own ears. “Now.”
Next up is The Aftermath, Charity/Hermione, Dudley/Neville, Pomona/Minerva, 3770 words, PG-13. Summary: In the days after the Battle for Hogwarts, there was much healing work to be done. Fortunately all of creation was helping.
This is a beautiful story of healing. I know there are some (very unusual) pairings in there, but for me the story almost reads as gen, because it isn't about any one couple getting together; it's about how the whole of Hogwarts regroups after the Battle of Hogwarts, looking for (and finding) hope for the future. I love the way the author blends the constant presence of magic with the sense of love that permeates all the characters and settings, making for a truly beautiful, moving story.
Nurse Pomfrey hurried to the apothecary for more Burn Banishing salve. The honey and comfrey concoction was a specialty of Pomona’s, and it worked miracles as far as she was concerned. Having used up several pints in the past day, she made a note to reorder now, to allow plenty of time. It wouldn’t do to be without.
On her way back to her patient, she nodded and smiled at Charity and the Granger girl who were tending a crumpled form. She watched as Hermione held a steady Lumos while Charity carefully completed the elaborate bandage at the man’s throat. Several glowing potions flowed into the drip line running into the unconscious man’s arm. Poppy nodded her approval and bustled on.
Through the archway she caught a glimpse of Pomona Sprout running triage in the makeshift A&E. There was quite a crowd, but no doubt Pomona had the situation well in hand.
Poppy continued her journey to the end of the ward toward her most serious burn patient, a huge man occupying three beds lashed together. Hagrid smiled when he saw her, before remembering that it hurt to move any part of his body. She soothed him with a calming charm and began gently removing a portion of bandage to apply the cooling salve.
After working quietly for some time, she tucked the final piece of Hagrid’s extensive bandages neatly in place. He had fallen into a peaceful doze. Nurse Pomfrey smoothed his sheets and rose, taking in the scene of the busy ward.
Despite her weariness, Poppy had to smile. A light breeze moved in through the tall windows, and she brushed a strand of silvering hair from her face. Breathing in the scent of spring, she felt the warmth of magic and gratitude rising within her.
And some art to finish: Frog, Paper, Scissors, Marietta/Millicent, Draco/Viktor, NC-17. This is a gorgeously playful, happy piece that's also very pretty.
In my recs, I've linked to the stories and artworks that appealed most to me personally; if none of these take your fancy, you could do worse than check out the masterlist (anonymous for now), which offers a huge variety of pairings, genres and story lengths for every taste.
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