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Review: "A New Leaf, a New Page, and the Beginning of Always," by Rycolfan
Title: A New Leaf, a New Page, and the Beginning of Always
Author: [personal profile] rycolfan
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 14,928
Content/Warnings: (highlight for spoilers) *None*
Summary: As part of his New Year resolutions, Harry vows to turn over a new leaf, let go of old grudges. When Snape shows up at the Burrow as their First Footer, Harry takes that as a sign to see what kind of relationship he can have with Severus. How does Severus react?

I'm a sucker for stories in which romance blossoms slowly, and Rycolfan's "A New Leaf, a New Page, and the Beginning of Always" is among the warmest and best of these. Several years after the end of the Wizarding War, Harry is still searching for his path in life, and when Minerva McGonagall offers him a temporary position as Hogwarts' Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, he accepts both the job and the opportunity it gives him to turn over a new leaf with his erstwhile nemesis, Snape. Rycolfan's Snape is himself a different man in the wake of the war - less brittle and at least tentatively willing to meet Harry halfway on the path to friendship. But when this fledgling friendship slips into something more, Snape's old defenses return in full force, and it's left to Harry to decide whether to retreat in defeat or risk his feelings in determined pursuit. That pursuit, and what follows, is a lovely tale of deepening love against the odds - warm, gentle, and so worth the read.

Review: "Heart of Stone," by Gingertart50
Title: Heart of Stone
Author: [personal profile] gingertart50
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: Approx. 20,000
Content/Warnings: (highlight for spoilers) *EWE*
Summary: To be the subject of unrequited love is not necessarily a good thing. Headmaster Snape finds this out the hard way. Harry Potter, meanwhile, forges another disturbing mental connection and once again, rushes to the rescue. This time, however, he has a plan, proving that even The Boy Who Lived (Again) can learn by experience.

There are so many ways to describe Gingertart50's "Heart of Stone," but to my mind the beauty of the story lies in its delicate exploration of desire. "Heart of Stone" centers on a love triangle of a different kind: Harry, fresh from his defeat of Voldemort, is on the cusp of sexual awakening, and he finds that his desires don't run in the direction he had expected. Upon his return to Hogwarts for a final 8th year, he begins to sense images and feelings that seem to emanate from the damaged castle itself; not until these take on a certain specificity does he realize that he is, in fact, linked through Legilimency with Headmaster Snape, who is being held captive by a dangerously possessive Hogwarts. The castle uses Snape's own desires in an attempt to seduce him for itself, and when it discovers the emotional turbulence surrounding Snape's feelings for Harry, it tries - and fails - to turn them to its advantage by giving them a sexual component. The fantasy invoked by the castle instead draws Snape and Harry closer together, culminating in wonderfully creative solution to Snape's predicament. Yet, the story does not end here, and it is really in the final few passages of "Heart of Stone" that the story comes into its sublime own. The conclusion is gently profound, capturing something at once beautiful and essential about Harry and Severus both.

Review: "Mists of Time," by Centaury Squill
Title: Mists of Time
Author: [personal profile] centaury_squill
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: Approx. 9,300
Content/Warnings: (highlight for spoilers) *Blowjob, sex magic, anal sex, hint of MPreg.*
Summary: Mayhem seems to follow Harry Potter, no matter which department of the Ministry he works in.

One of the greatest pleasures of fan fiction is seeing how an author reworks known variables in a given universe. In Centaury Squill's Mists of Time, many of the usual suspects make an appearance: Harry and Ginny's relationship, Albus Severus Potter, a wonderfully caustic Snape, and one of my favorite plot devices, time travel; and the joy of the story is how she manages to give each a fresh, new life. Here, Harry is an Auror who is summoned by Unspeakable Severus Snape to investigate an unprecedented - and highly personal - occurrence within the Department of Mysteries involving Albus Severus and the threat of a new Dark Lord. When it is discovered that Harry himself is the new, if potential, scourge of the Wizarding World, Snape's solution is both unique and utterly satisfying. Aiding him in his mission is the fact that Harry, still relentlessly pursued by Ginny Weasley, has been having some ideas of his own that help to bring the story to a (*cough*) rousing climax. Suspenseful, funny, and romantic by turns, Mists of Time is a wonderfully enjoyable read.

Review: "Resonant Dissonance," by WordsConsumeHer
Title: Resonant Dissonance
Author: [personal profile] wordsconsumeher
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 8,048
Content/Warnings: (highlight for spoilers) *Non-magic AU*
Summary: When a mysterious musical score lands in Severus' postbox, he finds himself lured to a northern Canadian town to perform its evocative solo... and finds more than he bargained for.

Readers (myself included) can be funny about non-magical AUs; it sometimes feels as if something more than magic might be lost in the telling - as if the characters we love might themselves disappear. But in Resonant Dissonance, what we get is a wonderfully true Snarry of the best kind - lush and poignant, beautiful, and just so familiar. In this story, Severus Snape is an immensely talented, if not widely recognized, French horn player, and Harry Potter repairs musical instruments and creates custom conductor's batons. The two meet on the occasion of Snape's invitation to perform a solo piece by the musical prodigy-cum-celebrity composer James Evans; when his French horn is damaged, it is Harry who repairs it, and from there the two enter into a whirlwind romance. The Snape and Harry of this story are instantly recognizable as the characters we love, aided by the author's deft inclusion of bits of canon that make the musical world seem more an extension of the magical one, rather than something foreign. Harry's attraction to Snape is played out in little asides that are rich with significance, while Snape's anger at the discovery that his Harry is none other than the famous James Evans is wonderfully true-to-character. Both the story's wintery Canadian setting - made warm through the mens' blossoming relationship - and its rendering of the musical world are evoked in perfect detail, making this story all the more affecting for its verisimilitude. It's almost hard to believe that such an immensely satisfying story can be contained in just over 8000 words, but it is, and to give this one a pass because it's a non-magical AU is to miss out on something that's simply extraordinary.

Review: "The Second Time Around," by Suitesamba
Title: The Second Time Around
Author: [personal profile] suitesamba
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 28,800
Content/Warnings: (highlight for spoilers) *Partner Betrayal (not H/S), previous implied het relationship (H/G)*
Summary: Henry Porter owns a popular Bed and Breakfast in York. Ellis Keyes is a critic for “Europe’s Best B&Bs.” When they meet, they find out their alter egos knew each other quite well in a past life. Will things turn out differently the second time around?

There are some Snarries that are wonderfully inventive - that imagine entire new worlds of intricate details - and this is one such story. Suitesamba's "The Second Time Around" sets Harry and Snape in the world of Bed and Breakfast establishments - Harry as owner of Against the Wall, Snape as a reclusive reviewer, and both operating under Muggle pseudonyms. When they meet again, fourteen years after a whirlwind affair ended by Ginny Weasley's announcement that she is pregnant with Harry's child, each discovers things about both the past and the present that draw the them closer together. Their newfound appreciation of the changes each finds in the other forms the crux of the story, but it is in small details that it takes on a delicious richness: the beautifully nostalgic (and not a little kinky) 'specialty' rooms of the B&B, the little attentions to food, drink, and comfort that make Against the Wall a warm home-away-from-home, the small part of York in which it sits, populated - literally - by the denizens of Harry's memory. Beautiful, too, is the way in which the story ends not with a big bang, but with the slow rekindling of the warm embers of Harry and Snape's distant dalliance. This is a story that envelops the reader in its tender charm, inviting not one, but many readings.

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