and it looked even more beautiful with leakycon people in it

HD_Owlpost 2016 Recs #1

Evolution [NC-17, 13.2k]
Summary: Draco Malfoy was condemned to live a Muggle’s life for his three-year probation. His wand was locked away, and he was forbidden to set foot in Wizarding Britain until Hermione Granger secured a job for him in the Aurors’ stock room. Harry Potter, who worked three doors away as a junior Auror, frequently visited Draco to check out supplies, take Spanish lessons, and witness Draco’s resolute—if painful—adaptation to a non-magical life … while falling in love with the man who might be too fragile to love him back.
Note: This is one of those drop-everything-you’re-doing-to-read-this fics, like oh my god. It’s such a beautiful, gorgeous story about falling in love! The pining in this is so heartachingly beautiful!

Thank You [NC-17, 25k]
Summary: Harry is fed up of listening to Draco Malfoy complain about living at home. It’s not like he’ll listen to any of Harry’s suggestions. Although, maybe if he did, things wouldn’t work out exactly as Harry thinks they would.
Note: A super lovely story about fake marriage, friendship, pining, and falling in love! Features Auror!Harry and Healer!Draco and a convoluted fake dating scheme!

Six Christmases [R, 4.8k]
Summary: A year ago— even a few months ago— Harry would have heeded the note of warning in Malfoy’s voice. He would have been more careful. But care, he thought now, twisted and flowed with the change in landscape; like magic, it fed on a continual change of form.
Note: A really heartwarming look at how people change, traditions change, and about learning to care for each other!

This Isn’t Just A Distraction [NC-17, 3.7k]
Summary: Harry hates small space. Really hates them. So when he gets trapped in one with Draco Malfoy there’s really only one thing that’s going to happen…
Note: A brilliant look at partnership and working together, and how much that lets you know someone and know what they need.

The Game [G, 1.6k]
Summary: Harry and Draco engage in a yearly competition to each retrieve an item that the other has specified. Every New Year’s Eve they meet in a Gringotts vault to share their success. This year, Draco is running late.
Note: The game in this is lovely, it’s so great to see how they reveal a little more of themselves to each other!

Sometimes We Take Chances [R, 3.7k]
Summary: In a world where the Harry Potter series was written to throw Muggles off the truth, Draco decides to attend LeakyCon, cosplaying as Draco Malfoy.
Note: This one is hilarious, a total must read if you’re in need of an amusing pick me up! It’s so meta and brilliantly tongue in cheek.

Esther, Hazel, and TFiOS: Highly Biased and Personal Thoughts After Viewing the Film

(This is a spoiler-free collection of thoughts about The Fault in Our Stars after seeing a screening of the film in NY.)

So, confession time: I’ve had a little ghost, a little knot, of discomfort in my heart about The Fault in Our Stars movie since I heard it was happening. See, once upon a time, my own little infinity of a life brushed against that of Esther Earl, the young woman whose real-life story inspired the fictional events of TFIOS. While you will hear over and over again through the press for this film that the fictional Hazel Grace Lancaster is not an avatar for the cheerful Esther, it is impossible for those of us who have been wrapped in the details to fully divorce the two people. Despite what any author or any actor says about the need to separate fact from fiction and how important it is that we don’t beatify the dead, anyone who knew Esther - even someone who knew her as briefly and in as frustratingly incomplete of a way as I did - is going to see her on the screen.

I knew it would happen, and it’s why those twinges have plagued me. It’s one thing to repeat to yourself, “Hazel is not Esther Hazel is not Esther,” and convince yourself you have made the distinction, but let’s be honest: it’s never going to fully banish the memories. Whether or not we beatify the dead we sure as heck don’t want to blemish them. And what if the movie did that? Is it ever okay to take that chance with someone’s memory? It’s one thing for a life to inspire a book, which can hold whatever insight an author manages to cram into it. But a movie? A movie that has to fit length and make sure it has only enough swear words to stay PG13, and star beautiful people? Movies have a track record of reducing our favorite, nuanced fictions to piles of story puree that can be easily digested, and I knew that as angry as I ever got about a shallow choice in Harry Potter would be nothing in comparison to how I would feel if Esther’s memory were the basis for such tarnish.

And thus I went in to the surprise screening of The Fault in Our Stars expecting to have to remind myself that Hazel is not Esther Hazel is not Esther in order to see it as it’s meant to be seen: to cart away my baggage and just watch a film. And let’s be clear, my baggage is not very large: I met Esther very briefly at LeakyCon 2009 the same night she met John Green; we shared some texts and one phone call before she left us. I have less right than any of her friends, and certainly any of her family, to be concerned about this. It’s Esther’s story – her impact on the attendees of the conference I run, on so many people I know, and on the HP Alliance — that has been my traveling companion on this journey. I’ve watched her impact on the world she left behind grow, and have marveled at its seemingly limitless trajectory. Now that a piece of her is about to be served to the moviegoing world – not known for celebrating nuance and realism – I found myself a bit scared, and very worried. 

Another, darker, emotion has plagued, too, as the yin-yang Hazel/Gus poster has become ubiquitous. Anger. Anger that Esther never actually got to be that starry-eyed girl; that she would never have a romantic trip to Amsterdam, or the chance to cozy herself under the chin of her true love. Why do movies get all the glory, I’d think as I stalked past a poster in the subway station. It’s not fair that she never got this, that this imagined part of her life has to exist only on pages and on screens. I can’t speak for anyone else but if it were in my power to take Hazel and Gus’s story from them and give it to Esther, I would do it in a heartbeat.

There’ve been a lot of jokes (some of them made by me) about how ready you should be to cry when you go and see this film. I won’t pretend that prophecy hasn’t borne out. I won’t share any spoilers, but you know it’s a film about teenagers with cancer. Your imagination shouldn’t be that far off the mark. 

However, I was pretty surprised to find that the “push-here-to-make-audience-cry” portions of the movie were not the parts that left me snot-nosed and sore-headed. As Shailene’s performance unfolded I gave up trying to stop comparing her to Esther, and it was there that was the key. Of course you are  going to see Esther in Hazel, I finally thought. Stop fighting it.

So, while still remembering that key mantra - Hazel is not Esther, Hazel is not Esther - I started imagining that this was a life that, just maybe, Esther could have lived. And in doing the thing I swore to try not to do, I found a new appreciation for the fiction and the life behind it.

I’m not the person who can tell you if this is a good movie or not. I’m not the person who can tell you if the acting holds up or does justice or what. I’m not the person who can compare this to other films, or tell you how it looks outside the bubble of Nerdfighteria and LeakyCon and This Star Won’t Go Out and the HP Alliance, and all the other people and things that have circled this frail girl’s phenomenal life story. But I can tell you what it was like inside that bubble, and inside that bubble I found myself surprisingly happy.

Happy to imagine Esther dining under twinkling lights in Amsterdam; happy to imagine that it’s possible for ill teenagers to achieve this level of eloquence; happy to imagine that small girl who affected us so powerfully engaging in so much happiness of her own. Even happy to imagine her heart being broken, for, as bearers of broken hearts everywhere will tell you, the breaking is typically worth it. I found myself happy that there exists such a vivid imagination of the life she didn’t get to live.
After the book was released, there was a lot of discussion about infinities, and whether Hazel was right that some infinities are larger than others. To be honest I never paid much attention to the literal answer to that question. The book is not overly concerned with whether there are actually more numbers between zero and two than zero and one: the book is about emotional infinities. The meshy fabric of time that wraps around a love story is, emotionally speaking, much larger than one that contains just breakfast, or a school day. Yet, I considered for the first time while watching this film that infinities are actually able to grow.

No life is a closed circuit, and it’s already obvious that Esther Earl’s was anything but. It seems to me, however, that the story that Esther was able to inspire is having the unexpected side effect of growing her infinity. No matter what fate holds for the film on its own standing, it has linked to Esther’s life that which cancer denied: the fairy tale she (and every good person) deserves.

As second-bests go, it’s not so bad.