B. Right. The great 'standard vs unconventional writing' debate. I only have three things to say about it at this point:
1. As a reader, I actually appreciate unconventional writing far more than standard writing. As a writer, I make every effort to stay away from unconventional writing. Why? Because no publisher in their right mind is going to buy 'unconventional' from an unknown. It's perhaps a little unfair, but it's true.
2. Corollary: not everyone's gonna like how you write. That doesn't mean they dislike you as a person.
3. I hate that people's feelings are getting hurt over this whole kerfuffle. :|
C. Uhm... My Forecastfox is saying that Budapest, Hungary does not exist. Did I, er, miss a memo? :S
Anyway, here from the brink of existence, an FYI: the hp_gen_ch August challenge is Travel. Also, genfic.
Title: When it's Important to Remember
Character: Snape, Narcissa
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1200 words
Summary: Sometimes it's what you remember. Sometimes, it's what you don't. An evening in the life of Severus Snape, sixth year Hogwarts student.
Note: Originally written for a Marauder-era challenge at hogwarts_elite. Second place winner.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Severus turned to chapter sixteen in his Transfiguration textbook and leant back against the sofa cushion. The common room was deserted except for a few younger students sitting in the armchairs by the fireplace, talking in low voices. Severus stared at the page in front of him, frowning. The letters were all beginning to run together: it had been a long day. His vision swam briefly, and then his head hit the back of the sofa...
...he was padding cautiously along the long tunnel beneath the school grounds. Why had Black decided to show him how to get past the Whomping Willow? He heard a noise from further along the way, and he stopped. He suddenly had a bad feeling about this place, about what was at the end of this tunnel. The air was stale and bitter; a mildewy odour was slowly creeping into his nostrils, reminding him of toadstools and death.
"Snape, get back!" shouted a voice from behind him. "Snivellus!"
Severus turned his head and saw Potter running towards him, an expression of utmost horror on his face. Severus sneered and was about to continue walking when he saw something bounding towards him, something impossibly large and furry. He was sure he could hear the snapping of teeth and his muscles seized up in fear. Then a pair of strong arms seized him from behind and hauled him along the tunnel, back towards the exit. Severus tried to struggle, but to no avail: Potter was much stronger than he.
They were almost at the exit when Severus gave one last powerful struggle, and Potter nearly released him; it was enough to let Severus turn around and see what was going on -- oh, shit. It was a full-grown werewolf, advancing faster than a Bludger. Severus felt all blood drain from his face and he froze again.
"Go, go, go," urged Potter, pushing him towards the exit. "Get out of here!"
Severus didn't have to be asked twice. The last thing he saw before emerging back out onto the grounds was Potter's foot connecting with the werewolf's hairy chest, followed by an uncharacteristic "sorry, Moony."
...Severus sat up and rubbed his forehead. His upper lip was curling in disdain. James Potter, light of everyone's eyes. James Potter, the biggest bully Hogwarts has ever known as far as Severus was concerned. James Potter had saved Severus's life and Severus owed him. It was pathetic and deplorable. It wasn't right.
He peered at the textbook in front of him. There was no way he was getting any studying done in this state. He picked up his quill and underlined the chapter title, frowning. He may owe his life to James Potter, but he owed nothing to Sirius Black, and Black would pay for what he had done. Severus didn't care if it took months, years, or even his whole life.
"There you are, Severus," came Narcissa's lilting voice from his right. Severus put down his quill and rose hastily. It was as though time had stopped and the chattering third-years had disappeared.
"Narcissa," he said, bowing.
"Really, Severus, you don't have to stand on ceremony every time I walk into a room," she said, but she was smiling in that enigmatic way that only she had. "You said you would help me with my Draught of Living Death -- I'm afraid I still can't quite manage."
Severus quickly snapped his textbook shut and tucked it into his book bag. "I'm sure the Potions classroom will be empty by now," he said, then gestured at the common room door. "After you."
Narcissa flipped her long blond hair over her shoulder and headed out. Severus hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and followed. They walked through the dank dungeon hallway in silence; Severus couldn't help but feel as though the walls were closing in on him. Any moment now, there would be a great werewolf bounding at them, he felt sure of it. He caught up to Narcissa and made sure to walk a step ahead of her, just in case.
They reached the Potions classroom; there were voices coming from inside. Severus opened the door and let Narcissa go in front of him, then followed. Inside, professor Slughorn was talking to that Gryffindor Mudblood, Evans. Severus peered at Narcissa, whose face was a study in disgust. He hated people who made Narcissa Black look like that.
"Can I help you with something, Miss Black? Mr Snape?" asked Slughorn, a wide smile splitting his face at the sight of Narcissa. Evans said nothing, just stood off to the side and refused to look at them.
"Severus was just going to help me with my Draught of Living Death, Professor, but if it's inconvenient--" Narcissa started to say, but Slughorn waved her off.
"Miss Evans and I were finished, anyway. Feel free," he said. Evans left the classroom with such speed, one would think she was being chased by stampeding Hippogriffs. Slughorn followed her out shortly afterwards, wishing Narcissa good luck with her potion.
Severus was silent as he watched Narcissa cut up her valerian roots. Her movements were jerky and he feared that she would accidentally damage her hands. "Is everything all right?" he ventured. "You seem preoccupied."
Narcissa looked up at him, and he noticed that her large blue eyes filled with tears. "Oh, Severus," she said, her voice breaking. "I've been so worried, I think that's why I can't manage to get anything done lately." She put the knife down and looked down at the mess she'd made of the roots. "It's Lucius."
Severus folded his hands across his chest. If Lucius Malfoy had the audacity to hurt--
"He's gone and got involved with some group, and he won't tell me anything about it. He refuses to speak of it, but I do know that it has something to do with the Dark Arts."
Severus pursed his lips. "I don't know why this would concern you, Narcissa. Lucius has always been very interested in the darker branches of magic--"
"You don't understand!" exclaimed Narcissa, stomping her foot. "This -- thing he's joined, it has something to do with my sister! I heard them whispering together, and I just can't help but feel this great sense of -- danger, foreboding, I don't know!"
Severus's eyes narrowed. He could feel something tugging at the edges of his memory, just within his reach -- yes. He remembered. Narcissa's sister, Bellatrix, and Rodolphus Lestrange, her then-future husband; they had been talking in the common room four years ago. They hadn't seen Severus lurking in his usual corner, but he had seen and heard them very well. They had talked about an organisation, too, and a new Dark Lord rising. Could it be true?
"I'm sure it's nothing," he said to Narcissa, but his voice sounded hollow and empty. They went back to the potion and spoke no more of Lucius Malfoy.
I've been keeping an eye on your fiancée as you instructed; she is well-protected and doing wonderfully in Potions. Do you think we might meet during the holidays? I have something I need to talk to you about.