I swear that being under that thing’s cold gaze was like staring down an oncoming truck. It promised nothing but death and pain, and I was terrified.
It was bright, and shone gold in the sun; but its mouth was like two swords, and its wings were razor-edged. Its great compound eyes, which should have been faceted like a geodesic dome, were entirely too human. This was one of the creatures I had been warned about, the reason you shut and locked your windows until the cold came and drove them away.
My phone buzzed in my hand and I risked looking away from the creature to see who’d texted me.
are you seriously telling me that you’re trapped in your room with a wasp
“This is not just a wasp,” I muttered, looking back up at the monster on my window ledge. A wasp would be bad, but this was worse. Wasps are what, an inch long? This thing was as big as my hand. If it was a wasp, it was a mutant wasp. And given where I was, it was probably worse than that.
It looked away from me, antennae waving, and crept along the windowsill. It was then that I noticed–one of its legs was broken, and it was really creeping. More like dragging. Had it been hurt? How?
just swat it with a shoe, my friend texted.
The rules–the ones the RAs told us at the beginning of the year in hushed whispers, and then never spoke of again–said not to hurt insects. You don’t drown spiders, you don’t burn ants, you don’t swat at moths. And, just like all the other sometimes-nonsensical rules, I’d kept to them.
But there was another rule, one that got passed by word of mouth and rumor-has-it, that spoke of helping those who needed it. Of an injured football player who’d helped an old woman cross the street, and found his injury miraculously healed. Of the girl who fed a stray dog, and found herself in possession of a cereal box that was never empty. Of the kid who’d ignored the pleas of a man with a misspelled cardboard sign on the corner, and had never been seen again.
I took a deep breath. This wasp thing–whatever it was–was a strange thing, like all the other strange things at this university. And when you’re dealing with strange things, the rule goes, you follow all the rules. Which meant no swatting or shoes. It also meant–
starting to think I maybe should take a tumblr hiatus, saw a post about how “longfic isn’t good and it’s always poorly paced, you aren’t a very good writer if you write long works and you need a professional editor to fix your problems”, am now having an anxiety attack and while I know this particular one is probably because I’m, you know, basically running on self-produced cocaine right now (yay for hypomania and its weird-as-hell symptoms) that doesn’t stop the anxiety
why does everyone assume that a slytherin must be sly and sleek? a canker in a hedge, disdained from all, a plain-dealing villain? what is so wrong with ambition? after all, it is undeniable that the best of slytherin house are as good as the best of any other.
slytherins are resourceful. take and take and take what you can, whether it works or not, because you’ll make it work. jerry-rig your spells and substitute every ingredient for your potions. it’s a mess and who cares, because it got the job done in the end?
slytherins are cunning. ravenclaws lay plans, but a plan doesn’t have to be laid out to be the plan that wins. you don’t play the long game. it’s ex tempore, every hard-fought inch; plans changing as fast as you change, ideas sparking when they’re needed and not a second before. messy. ugly. winning.
slytherins are ambitious. not all ambition is cool, and not all is selfish. have you ever seen someone who wants, who desires, who needs? shout from the roofs, take what you want, and use it. turn it not to your power, but to the empowerment of others. strive to better the world. want better. do better.
slytherins are determined. gryffindors in a fight always step forward. you may not step forward but you refuse to move a single inch. sink your teeth in and don’t let go until the bitter end. first blood may count, but last blood counts for more, and you’ll still be standing when your enemies burn.
slytherins have a sense of self-preservation. that’s not say that you’re selfish. far from it: you see your value. hufflepuffs will sacrifice themselves, die for their friends. but you, you will live for them. self-sacrifice is noble, but you can’t do anything when you’re dead. and you have to keep going to achieve your ends.
slytherins are fraternal. this is beyond love, beyond equality, beyond loyalty. you know who your brothers are. anything they want is your heart’s desire. the webs you weave bind you tighter than blood could ever hope. family doesn’t end with blood, and when you choose your family they are your family forever.
slytherins are clever. that doesn’t have to be knowing secrets. that can be knowing how to think clearly, how to speak brilliantly. there are too many wizards who let their wands think for them, and you, you think with your head. and that’s how you change everything.
who cares if you want, if you desire, if you see more for yourself and for your world? you are a leader, because you know how to speak and how to stand fast in the face of a world that despises you. you may disregard the rules, but you do this because you see the clear bright road that leads from wrong to right, and the rules keep you off that way.
and yes, we walk close to the line of good and evil. because that clear bright road is often ruthless. we can stand firm in defense of wrong things and refuse to look again at ourselves. our self-preservation can become selfishness. the ambition that carries us far can make us uncaring of those who stand between us and our goal. our fraternity can become so exclusive that we turn on those who aren’t within our circle. cleverness, cunning, and resourcefulness can make us dangerous, and not to the people who we should be standing against.
but the point is, there’s a line. there’s a line and you, like anyone else, can choose where you stand. ravenclaws can share their knowledge with the world, or remain indecisively in the ivory tower while the world collapses for lack of truth. hufflepuffs can stand steadfastly between oppressed and oppressor, or can let their silence make them loyal to the tyrant. gryffindors can charge upon the front lines of battles for justice, or can so easily throw lives away on crusades taken up out of bloodlust alone.
and a slytherin?
a slytherin can be a villain, a dark lord, a traitor, a blood purist, or any other horrible thing. but the best slytherins, those who harness all their best qualities for the right thing, the one right thing, are heroes. knowledge, loyalty, and bravery are all well and good, but what can they do without the drive to make the world a better place?
There’s a lot to be said for creature-keeping permits, and Percival Graves has said almost all of it at one point or another.
Newt Scamander has yet to listen to any of it.
“Director Graves, if you’d just come and look–”
“You’re keeping creatures without a permit, I don’t need to look.”
“Please!” Newt hated the pleading sound in his voice, but he has to get the Director’s attention. And something about that must have struck a nerve because the man stops and turns to Newt, eyebrow raised expectantly. “I’ve made improvements to the case, since–er, since last December. It’s perfectly safe now, there’s no danger–”
The Director looks to the heavens. “Fine,” he says.
Newt’s heart leaps. “Let me show you the way,” he says, and unlocks the case.
After two hours inspecting the suitcase, the Director declares it fit to exist on American soil. He writes up a special permit specifically pertaining to Newt, a license granted exclusively for this suitcase, and Newt finds himself infinitely grateful to the man.
“You can come down, any time you like,” Newt says, tucking the permit in his pocket. “I mean–for inspections, and so on. Or if you only wanted to, I wouldn’t mind the company.”
“We’ll see,” Director Graves says dryly.
This is not a promising exchange.
Newt, therefore, finds himself stunned when Director Graves knocks on the lid of the suitcase two days later, asking to be let in.
“Is this an inspection?” Newt asks, thinking warily of the Fire Crabs that got out this morning.
“No, Mr. Scamander. I suppose you could say that this is a social call.”
Newt blinks hard, taken aback. “…would you. Er. Would you like to meet the Occamy babies, in that case? I’ve got chores, but they mightn’t mind some company…”
Director Graves nods. He doesn’t smile, but Newt thinks that’s rather ordinary for him. He’s a somber man, with every right to be. Newt takes him to the Occamy nest, where all of the little creatures start chirping and peeping, stretching up their necks for their mummy.
“They’re rather sweet,” Director Graves says, looking down at them.
“Would you like to hold one?” Newt asks, looking sideways at the man.
He looks startled. “Me–one of them?”
“Yes,” Newt says, scooping up Clara–one of the most amicable to being held and petted–and letting her settle herself in his cupped hands, resizing herself to fit perfectly.
Cautiously, Director Graves holds out his hands. Newt transfers Clara into them carefully, where she curls up and coos, nuzzling her beak against his thumb.
“I’m starting to see why you don’t want to give all this up,” the Director says, holding Clara carefully.
“It’s not about pets, Director Graves–”
“Graves. Just Graves.”
Newt meets the man’s eyes for half a second. “Graves,” he says. “They aren’t pets, no matter how much Clara here likes to be cuddled or Pickett likes to sit in my pocket. I’m keeping them here for their safety. Someday, I’d like to reintroduce at least a few of these creatures into their natural habitats.”
Graves studies Newt like he’s studying a creature. “Admirable,” he says, and his small smile feels utterly genuine to Newt.
You know, I wonder if the self-doubt that is so pervasive in the gradence part of the fandom is because we’re so damn small. There are 635 notes on that post about how big the fandom is. Which is, comparatively, not that large. Even assuming lurkers and people who play on different platforms, that is a VERY SMALL group of people by comparison to the bigger fandoms. And there’s an even smaller subset of those people who are active, frequent content creators.
Which means that, if you’re writing/doing edits/making art, you are playing in a sandbox with very few other people. We can’t section ourselves off as easily into neat little boxes of “this is what I like” and “this is what you like” and “this is what that person likes”. There are 1109 works in the tag “Credence Barebone/Original Percival Graves”. There are 65,990 works in the tag “Castiel/Dean Winchester”. That means someone who’s looking to create for the latter tag is going to have a much wider group of people to reach out to for inspiration and interaction when they’re writing. You don’t like one kind of dynamic or interpretation? Great! There are still dozens of other writers you can go play with! You have a lot more space in the sandbox.
For gradence writers, this is not so easy. If you don’t like an interpretation–say, those of us who generally prefer a less kinky dynamic–well, there aren’t very many other people who actively want to create that dynamic. More than HALF of the works in the tag are tagged E or M. If you’re into modern AUs, then you might have some trouble because there are only 147 of those on AO3. That’s a little more than a tenth of the works as a whole, and you reading all of them is predicated on the idea that none of them contains squicks, triggers, or simply things of which you are not a fan.
So what my guess boils down to is the fact that, yes, 1109 works is a lot. A minimum of 635 people is a lot. But there are comparatively few active content creators. And we all know the popular ones. If you’re a small-time destiel writer, then you can put your head down and hide from the big-name fans. You don’t have to think about what they’re doing, because you might not even know they exist because there is just SO MUCH CONTENT. We’re in a different situation.
Yes, there is space in our sandbox, and no one is throwing people out. Let me emphasize that: this is the most welcoming, kind fandom I have ever been in. I am not playing a blame game. I regularly see our big-name fans struggling with the same psychological bullshit as the rest of us. “My writing isn’t good enough. I don’t belong. I’m not good enough.” But we can’t escape the fact that we are a SMALL fandom, by comparison to others. Active content creators see each other’s stuff all the time. We see each other all the time. There is no “six degrees of separation”, there’s like TWO. For example: I don’t know @sozdanie-gryazi-eternal personally, but I know @chryselephantinechaos, who does.
You can’t get away from other people. You are constantly in contact with all these amazing creators and it can be terrifying. You know they’re lovely, happy people who just want to play in the sandbox with you but their sandcastles seem so BIG in comparison to yours. That one’s got handpainted flags, and that one has six-foot-tall towers, and that one has a full dungeons with a complement of whips and chains, and that one is a perfect replica of Neuschwanstein Castle. And you look at yours and it feels pitiful by comparison, even if it’s beautiful, and when you look around you don’t see anyone else creating things that look like what you’ve made. On the one hand, you get to feel truly unique, truly noticed in a way that people in bigger fandoms might not. On the other, you’re constantly asking yourself why you aren’t as good as everyone else, because there are only so many sandcastles and it’s easy to see which ones consumers like best.
Anyway. This got terrifyingly long. Point is, I think we all need to work harder to be proud of the things we create because, around here, there really IS no one else making the things we make. No one else ever made that gifset you made, no one else ever painted anything like what you painted, no one else ever thought of the meta you thought up, no one else ever wrote anything like what you wrote. No two creators are alike, and that’s PERFECT. That’s how fandom SHOULD be. We’re all here in the sandbox together and so WHAT if someone else is only sculpting with sand and you want to add Legos to your castle? You’re the only one doing it, and the best thing about this tiny little fandom is that everyone wants to see your mixed-media creation. Because this IS a welcoming fandom, and we DO know almost everybody. So…keep writing. We love you. <3
Get your tissues, guys. It’s not Death of the Outsider: it’s Death of Corvo Attano.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
~T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
The passing of Corvo Attano is far less remarkable than the
events of his life should warrant.
He has been ailing for some time now, though the public is
unaware. The Empress has decreed no public panic and given no advance
directives for mourning: indeed, as far as she knows, her father is as hale as
ever, despite his nearly seventy years.
Corvo knows better. He has expected for some time now that
each heartbeat, each breath, each sight will be his last. His bones are tired
from years of overexertion. He has given up too many seconds in frozen time to
have any left to spare. And he’s so well acquainted with the Void that he can
sense it drawing near, about to swallow him with a leviathan’s mouth.
It’s less of a surprise than it should be, when one late
night he stands up from his desk and leaves his body behind him.
let me just…i think i’ve written this particular thing before, but it bears repeating in the light of 12x10.
we get told over and over and over that it isn’t real. that we’re looking for things that aren’t there. that they’re just friends. that the lists of evidence, of subtext, of metatext, are just tinhatting. writers, directors, actors, even other fans, they tell us we’re wrong.
and maybe in some ways they’re right. maybe dean will never say the three magic words. maybe cas will never kiss dean. maybe we will never get the big glaring neon sign that says “here it is, it’s real”. there won’t be a facebook status, an “official relationship”.
but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in love.
because those people who claim there isn’t anything there? they’re steeped in a culture where love means diamond rings that put you into debt and uncomfortable public proposals that force a “yes” where it isn’t wanted. where “love” is a possession, not an action. where lifelong friendship is thrown away because you can only have one meaningful relationship at a time and you just got married. where emotional intimacy might as well be written in an alien language, because no one is getting it.
in a nutshell, the people who claim there isn’t anything there don’t know what they’re looking at.
and when we look at this relationship, we are seeing something different. we see a handprint that means an embrace, we see anger born of worry, we see a trenchcoat in the trunk of a car, and in those things we can see actions that mean real love. we see a commitment. a promise to never give up. to harrow hell itself if it means protecting the person you love.
we hear “where’s the angel?”, we hear “i did all of it for you”, we hear “when he laid a hand on you in hell he was lost”, we hear “he’s in love…with humanity”, and we hear declarations of love. we understand that while those things may not be what we are taught to expect, they don’t mean anything less. they might even mean more. they’re an acknowledgement that two souls can be brought together in the worst of circumstances and still become better. that these two people belong together.
so no, it might never be canon in the way that people expect. they might never kiss. they might never hold hands or go on dates or say “i love you”.
but i promise you, it’s canon. cas would do anything for dean. dean will do anything for cas. cas has saved dean over and over, more times than we can count. and dean wants to be around cas, to take care of him, to protect him.
love doesn’t have to be expressed with pink hearts and rings. it can be an apology, a refusal to back down, a warm blanket. it’s “i’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition”. it’s “i’m worried about you”. it’s these things that we see when we say “it’s real”. and it’s these things, the things we aren’t taught to expect in romantic relationships, that people won’t see.
just because it doesn’t look like we’re supposed to expect doesn’t mean it’s not real. it is. it’s real. dean loves castiel, and castiel loves dean, and that’s the end of it. love is love, no matter what its trappings are.
it’s real. it’s canon. for now, let’s celebrate that.