The HP Beholder (as in, beauty is in the eye of) Fest on InsaneJournal (mirrored on LiveJournal), for anyone unfamiliar with this fabulous entity, was created to showcase characters not considered “attractive” by the general population and give ’em a little lovin’.
In other words, it’s right up my alley.
Every year, this fest turns out some of the best HP fic around. Alas, I couldn’t participate this year, as the deadline lies right in a very busy time for me work-wise, but I’ve been savoring the contributions of the talented folks who did. Here are a few highlights so far:
Safe As Houses has some of my favorite elements: “missing moments” from canon (what happens to the Dursleys after they leave Privet Drive), nicely filled out portraits of intriguing characters we only meet briefly in canon (Hestia, Dedalus, Mundungus), and surprising but believable developments in the relationshps between some of the characters.
Two Capable Women is a fabulous story that wryly eavesdrops on the developing relationship between Minerva and Irma in the context of a motivational course. You can just imagine the reactions from the two redoubtable ladies and the other Hogwartians. Oh, wait… you don’t have to imagine them, you can read them (and they’re hilarious) at Beholder.
The Reluctant Phoenix. OK, even if I didn’t have a soft spot for student!Minerva/Albus, I’d still have loved this because of the (I feel like I say this about all the Beholder fics, but it’s twoo, it’s twoo!) wonderful characterizations. Especially Albus, in all his flawed glory–here, as a man who is a genius in many arenas, but a bit thick when it comes to love. Add in fluid sexuality, and I’m a syrupy mess on the floor.
Love is a Battlefield. Boxing as foreplay! Dudley redeemed! Believable human/centaur relations that stay true to the canon depictions of centaurs! Yes, the author managed it all and more in this wonderful story.
Sunlight in the Garden is a deeply shaded fic featuring Pomona/Alice Longbottom, with lots of bittersweetness and a finish that made me sigh in delight. I espeically love the Pomona here–she’s loyal (of course) and fierce in her own quiet way. I defy you not to love her.
The Vultures of Love What can I say? It’s perfect Minerva/Severus, as far as I’m concerned: tenderness wrapped in the unsentimental, competetive, often snide package these two make. It features a Severus who grows from uncertain young man to confident lover and a Minerva who is recognizably older, more mature, but with a touch of human insecurity. It also features a Filch who is gloriously realized as a character with all his warts intact (like Severus) but also a few surprises. We also get to meet Eileen Prince and get a hint about where Severus got some of his good and bad qualities. A nifty little twist wraps this fic up in a pretty wonderful package.