Rec: Two glorious verbal duels
Fandom is such a rich place; I rarely go a day without finding some new treasure to cherish. As a result, I now have several recs posts in the works. Here is the first:
dueltastic wrote two incisive, extraordinary pieces that, each in their own way, are masterpieces of dialogue and characterisation. Both proceed from premises that at first glance might appear a bit strange, for some of you possibly even squicky. Do not fret, do not run, or you shall miss out on something quite astonishing.
We Change The Nature of Things is one of my new favourite stories of all time, right up there with In Infinite Remorse of Soul, In Memory of Sigmund Freud, Mutability, Sadness of Eros, The Lost World, Faithless Ganymede etc. It features a threesome between Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape. Stop! Don't run. This is the most intelligently rendered threesome you might ever come across. Characterisation is the heart and soul of the piece, a piece told through the perceptive, if always somewhat skewed perspective of Albus Dumbledore as he skips back and forth in time to reflect on his childhood, on Minerva McGonagall's growing up, on Severus Snape becoming a powerful wizard, on their meaningfulness to each other all the way up to his death. This is an allegorical piece as much as it is a realistic one. You will come away from it with an understanding of these characters and their situation that stuns and shocks and makes you reel with staggering insight.
Circumstances of a Small and Accidental Nature is an epic tale spanning some twenty-five years of a relationship between Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall. I shall avoid mentioning the genre/premise to keep you on your toes while reading, but to quote kellychambliss: "This would never happen. But if it did happen, it would happen exactly like this." This story is much lighter in tone than the piece above, but no less of a pleasure to read. In fact, it is probably the wittiest text I have read in years. One simply cannot stop reading it; stopping would cause physical pain. Snape and McGonagall are engaged in the most merry and scornful and deadpan battle of wits you could ever imagine, and as the stakes are upped so are the terms of the verbal battle. One begins to sit on the edge of one's seat. The supporting cast is also fabulously rendered: look out for clueless but well-meaning Harry and a clever Narcissa (for whom I have an improbable soft spot). My favourite aspect of the story is probably this, however: despite covering a span of twenty-five years, neither Snape nor McGonagall change radically in this story. They remain believably themselves throughout, brisk, professional, sarcastic, cutting, glib, cool, ever unwilling to admit defeat, ever up for a new challenge. If you're looking for some entertaining summer reading, then you have found it here.
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