Well, OK, you don't *have* to drop everything you are doing at this moment - the stories will be available for a goodly long time, but I'd hate to see any of you miss out another minute of the pleasure you could be having at reading some of the most extraordinary stories about our Severus ever written. That may sound like hyperbole, but it isn't. The quality of this fest is uniformly high. There have only been one or two the whole month that I'd consider to be average and several which have been so jaw-droppingly well-written that I've been able to do nothing but flail in awe. I'm going to rec the ones which spoke most to me, but you can consider this post a rec for the whole fest - it's that good. Now, *everybody* sing: theeese are a few of my faaavorite thiiinnggggs . . . (yeah, yeah, I know. As my daughter would say, 'Keep your day job, Mom')
Frostyworms and Rainbows: This was the opening story and as soon as I read it I knew that if all of the rest of them were this good, I was in for a delightful month. This is a lovely story set in Severus's pre-Hogwarts childhood, and is portrait of his friendship with Lily at age 10, exploring what they can of the magical world at that age. But something seems to be coming between them, and Severus can't understand what's going on. They're both such true-to-life children in this story, and the reason for Lily's distance is a real heart-tugger. This fic is full of warmth, but bittersweet, because we know what's coming for them.
Step On: Snapecase isn't just fic, it's art, too and this beautiful drawing pegged my 'guh' meter. The way it's drawn just made me want to *touch*, as if by running my finger down the drawing I would feel smooth skin over the swell and hollows of muscle and bone and sinew. It's gorgeous.
Mutability: This was one of those fics where I just kept nodding my head up and down as I read, and where I ended up quoting half the fic back at the author in my comment. Yep, I might a right fool of myself, but I couldn't help it. The writing is amazing. The story is set just after Tom Riddle's return at the end of GoF, and Severus is tasked by The Dark Lord with the seduction of Minerva McGonagall, a physical seduction that Riddle hope will eventually be one of the mind, bringing her to his cause. He decides to do this, but not for Voldemort's reasons, but as something he wants for himself. We get an exploration of the dynamics of their current relationship and a very erotic consumation scene, where their evenly matched game of one-upmanship spills over into making each other burn. The author has an astonishing command of Severus's many layers - how his life as a pariah and a pawn has stunted him, his insightfulness and self deception, his need and his all-encompassing disillusionment, that it just left me awe-struck.
Penultimate Acts: Another gorgeously written jaw-dropper, and a masterful portrait of Severus's year as Headmaster. He is very much in control of himself and handles the complexities of his position with finesse, a keen and penetrating intelligence and the occasional bit of gallows humor, like a flicker of sunlight escaping through the closed curtains of an utterly dark room. I loved watching him here, even though I knew what was coming, and the author's take on familiar canon scenes - the duel sequence especially - were better done than the originals. This is another one of those stories that epitomizes for me what the best of fan fiction is all about - taking what is familiar, and adding shading, depth, nuance so that it makes what (and who) we love about the originals all that much finer grained. This kind of writing reminds me of a huge photograph taken by Ansel Adams of El Capitain. It was taken from half a mile away, but was so deeply in focus that if you looked at the print through a magnifying glass, you could see the climbers on its face in perfect detail. I'm sure that doesn't make much sense (it's getting late and I've miles to go ::g::), but that's what comes to mind.
A Return to Motherhood: This one was another one which just left me speechless - I couldn't even indulge in my usual flail because I was too stunned and heart-bruised at its end. Eileen Snape somehow gets access to a Time-Turner and tries to go back and correct the mistakes she made which so damaged her son. That's the short synopsis, and that cannot under any circumstances convey the power and pain of this portrait of Severus's mother. I have heard many stories of abused children who later said of their abusive parent, "She (or he) was like two different people." In this story, Eileen seems to take that literally, swimming in denial by viewing her past self as some other person altogether, while her present self is the angel come to make up for all the pain Severus endured. And even as she fails at what she's trying to do, she can't stop herself from coming back yet another time to try it again, with no discernible change. Yet, in spite of her epic self-delusion, you still have empathy for her, she's obviously so damaged herself. This is one to read more than once, though it breaks your heart, so you don't miss anything.
Forever Idyll: I fell hard for this lovely story, which begins in Severus's later school years and continues beyond his death. It all begins with sketch he makes while on a summer holiday at the Rosier Estate. He has gone down to a lake on the grounds with Regulus and Rabastan LeStrange's Irish Setter and he makes a drawing of them and their surroundings while they are at play, their lives as yet untouched by the madness that is Tom Riddle. Regulus joins him and notices that Severus has left himself out of picture, so Reg takes it upon himself to add him in. After Voldemort's first fall he finds this picture, and to Severus's great joy, Regulus and the dog have awakened. It's what he does with it afterward that forms the remainder of this sweet, short tale, and the author delivers on the ending you can't help but hope for as the story unfolds.
Well, it's 3 AM and I'm starting to fall asleep at my computer, so I guess it's time to carry myself off to bed. I'll do my best to finish this tomorrow, as I have more