icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
[personal profile] icarus
I've been telling people there's a large planet-sized backstory to The Albatross. This is the beginning of it.

I've lost all ability to see my stories at the moment, still utterly demoralized from a bashing at a writer's group. I didn't know the editor was going to be reading the stories we'd brought (or I would have brought something other than Keego Harbor), nor did I know he was going to hold them up and ridicule them to the rest of the group.

How bad was it?

Normally I produce at least two fanfics per month. I haven't written a single story of any length since August. I'm generally a fast writer (Beg Me For It was written in six hours, not counting the outline). It is now taking me an hour per paragraph as I Scourgify each one, plop it on the table, and sigh that it's shit and should never see the light of day.

Anyhow, despite this, I've finally managed to cough up some fic -- largely because most of it was written before the writing group. Here you go. *Icarus heaves a sigh of depression.*

Percy woke from dreams of someone making him eat out of a dog dish, squirming and struggling… only to discover he was fighting the sheets on a large bed. The blankets had been kicked to the floor, and the unfamiliar room was empty and quiet, almost painfully so.

The loud, clear sound of a grandfather clock marked time as Percy slowly caught his breath, clutching a blanket to his chest. It smelled clean, and the silence almost rang in contrast to the more recent familiar noise of Knockturn Alley which, between the bars, prostitutes and various night creatures, never quite slept. This new non-sound pressed down on him as his mind caught up with the latest change in his life. His heart raced and he swallowed. A quick glance at the pillow next to his showed Professor Snape was no longer there, though he hadn't tried anything last night.

Percy's eyes filled with sorrow. He'd wanted to be respectable, to rebuild his life after Azkaban. Not go the route of prostituting himself, even under the guise of "help." But the threat of losing his job in Snape's shop had been enough. He couldn't understand why Snape had been so furious. It had been a difficult night in Knockturn Alley; Percy's usual doorway had been haunted by a vampire, and he'd had to move from place to place all night. But there should be nothing wrong with showing up at work a little early, certainly nothing to launch a tirade, Snape's bony grip shaking him awake: "How long have you been here?" Percy must have fallen asleep waiting. "Either get upstairs or get out! Now!" Snape's finger had stabbed in the direction of his private quarters above the shop.

Percy scanned the cracked plaster ceiling and the yellowing flowered wallpaper in the round room. He only hoped Snape would get on with it soon, so he could find out how bad it was going to be and adjust.

At least for the first night in weeks Percy didn't wake in his clothes, but wore a slightly overlong nightshirt of Snape's. And his skin was clean. Not Scourgified but actually clean. That was one good thing about life at the moment, and Percy let himself enjoy it, just a little bit. To feel what it was like to be between clean sheets that didn't have anything in them that would bite.

People didn't know how lucky they were.

A knock startled Percy. He waited for the door to be flung open with a clang of metal bars, till his mind shifted gears to the present and he said, "Um. Come in?"

He wasn't decent but that would hardly matter soon. Still, he didn't want to expose himself and raised his chin in defiance as the door clicked and opened. The dour face of Professor Snape peered in, his lank black hair falling to his chin. Percy forced himself to look Snape in the face. His eyes were cold, communicating nothing.

"Breakfast is downstairs; the shop opens in one hour," Snape said. "And wash your underclothes – you still reek."

With that he was gone. The door didn't lock behind him; there was no hollow ring of a deadbolt sliding home. In a brief panic, Percy thought of escape, but without this job and with his criminal record, he had no chance. Wizarding C.V.s were magically (and depressingly) honest, and no one ever looked past the seal of Azkaban to his prior stellar career. Employers' eyes would just scan down the page and then simply stop, widening, as they flicked back up to his face.

No, he could bear this for a month or two, then find lodgings of his own. He'd lose the job here of course, but perhaps by then…. Percy shook his head, reminding himself not to plan too far ahead. Life was far too unpredictable.

He edged around the bed and picked up his satchel, hands shaky from cumulative lack of sleep. He dragged it behind him into the bathroom, carefully locking the door. Then, pulling off the nightshirt, he stepped over the edge of the tub for his second real shower in twenty-four hours. His legs were rail-thin and dotted with greenish-yellow bruises. Percy lifted his face to the stream of water, the wet weight pulling his long curls straight, hair tickling his shoulders as he sighed and let his thoughts drain away.

Outside the bath he remembered he was to wash his underclothes. He filled the basin and scrubbed at the stiff fabric. From sheer habit he wrung them out and reached up to hang them as he would have in his cell, but of course there were no clotheslines here. He was confused what to do – should he wear wet clothes? – when he recalled that he had a wand now. Cautiously he wrapped a towel about his waist and searched the satchel, careful not to touch the filthy exterior. He did a simple drying charm, and blinked when it worked. Not perfectly, they were still damp, but at least they weren't dripping. Pleased, he dressed, and finger-combed his hair.

He slung the satchel over his shoulder and hesitantly took the stone spiral stair down to breakfast. It was cold and dim gray light from tiny windows barely lit the steps. Outside he caught a glimpse of the crows and trash bins behind Knockturn Alley. He quickly looked away.

The main floor of Snape's flat over the shop was just the one high-ceilinged room, also round and crowded with books and too much furniture. There was a small kitchen crammed into a corner at the base of the stair. Snape was folded into a cramped kitchen chair, his long legs crossed and face buried behind the Daily Prophet. Steam curled from a teacup on the table beside him.

"You're late," Snape said. Then he peered around the paper and scowled as his eyes flicked from Percy to the satchel. "What are you doing with that? Leave it upstairs."

Percy didn't think this was a wise course of action, but from Snape's steady gaze it didn't seem he had much choice in the matter. He paused, letting his eyes slide past Snape, not glaring or challenging him, oh no. His jaw hardened but he obeyed, deeply resenting it in that moment as he retraced his steps. He missed the sense of dignity he'd had just the day before: a job in hand, free, the prospect of a place to live soon. Disgruntled, Percy deposited his satchel on the floor - near the door where he could fetch it in a hurry if need be.

Breakfast was a quiet affair, absurdly refined. The dishes were ordinary but seemed overly fine… unchipped crystal-clear glasses, smooth plates, not a trace of battered Muggle tin anywhere. The teapot walked across the table and refilled Percy's cup as Percy stared. The nearly empty sugar bowl shuddered then refilled before his eyes – all things he'd grown up with but had virtually forgotten living without magic. Snape had forks and knives for the links, tongs to transfer them to his plate. A spatula hovered over a sizzling pan; levitation charms at work, Percy's mind labeled the phenomenon. Snape gave an absent twitch of his wand to turn them just as they started to smoke. Then the salt and pepper shaker presented itself to Percy… one tap for salt, two for pepper… Percy stood.

"I –I'm not feeling very well."

He almost carried his plate with him like a dog with a bone, but he remembered that much of his manners. Percy took the steps two at a time then, flinging the door open, he sank to the end of the bed, head in his hands. He didn't know what was wrong with him. He'd been in the Wizarding world for weeks, or at least he thought so. The Home for Wayward Wizards, the streets of Knockturn Alley, his job. He simply hadn't noticed how little magic was used there amongst wizards who hadn't gone to Hogwarts, the magical creatures without wands and borderline Squibs.

The bedroom door creaked. Percy glanced up and met Snape's gaze: he hadn't heard any footsteps Snape held out Percy's breakfast plate, his face still inscrutable.

"Eat here if you must," Snape said without preamble, eyeing Percy up and down. "There is little magic in this room." Before Percy could take the plate, Snape pulled it away. "But do not spill." Then he left a confused Percy staring after the sweep of his long cloak.

Percy was very careful.

Part 2.

Date: 2005-10-20 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dien.livejournal.com
*wants more my precious*

Intrigued. This tastes yummy.

Date: 2005-10-20 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
*is pleased my precious*

I'm writing h/c. I don't even read h/c. This is all [livejournal.com profile] quilt_stitcher's fault.


Date: 2005-10-22 09:40 pm (UTC)
cordelia_v: my default icon (Default)
From: [personal profile] cordelia_v
If Quilt inspired this, then we all owe her a favor.

Wonderful characterization here. Percy is so damaged and vulnerable here, but still recognizably himself. His thought processes here are just spot-on.

And as usual in your stories, you're outstanding at thinking through the role that magic would play their daily lives. Every little detail sounds like something that probably does exist already in canon, but is just something that JKR hasn't shown us yet.

And oh. Your style is so self-assured, so polished.

I hope very much that you write more of this.

Date: 2005-10-20 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] orange-bastard.livejournal.com
I love this! Poor Percy :)

Date: 2005-10-20 05:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Oh thank you. I'm immensely relieved.


Date: 2005-10-20 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarcastic-irony.livejournal.com

Ok, so, Percy is like, my favorite character and whatnot fandom wise. And I have long been a fan of your Percy/Snape work. And this piece is like, wow. I cannot, CANNOT wait to read more of it! It is SOOO good, that I'm getting kinda fangirly over the writing style.

Date: 2005-10-20 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm not sure what to say, except there is a lot more to it. I was writing this in the car while waiting for HBP.


Date: 2005-10-20 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dphearson.livejournal.com
This is an excellent slice of life, with snap ebeing kind. Yikes!

what I love here is the class implications, and the sense of being overwhelmed when presented with something you have lost.

Date: 2005-10-20 07:01 am (UTC)
swtalmnd: baby bunny and a cup of tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] swtalmnd
I had to go actually read The Albatross, which I'd bookmarked but not seen before, then come back and look at this, but it's really lovely. Such a real sense of the damage that's been done to Percy by callous cruelty, so many small things that add up to such a painful hurt. Snape is, strangely enough, just the right man to give him the comfort. I can't wait to see more!

Date: 2005-10-20 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hilarita.livejournal.com
I love this. I love your writing - you managed to get me interested in Jack/Daniel without my ever having watched the series.

I adore Percy's uneasiness in the magic-filled kitchen. You've really captured how Azkaban has changed him.

Date: 2005-10-20 12:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marauderthesn.livejournal.com
I really like both this and The Albatross; I've been wanting some good Percy fics lately, and these fit the bill. :) What I particularly like is that you've got Snape in a relationship and still kept him very Snapeish, which is hard to do. The premise of the shop interests me.

Date: 2005-10-20 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aphephobia.livejournal.com
Oooh... I like this. I haven't read HP fics in AGES... but I love what you do with Percy. I want more now, d00d... very good. :)

Date: 2005-10-20 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raveninthewind.livejournal.com
Oh, great start to the back story! I'll keep reading...

Date: 2005-10-20 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arkiewriter.livejournal.com
A good preamble to The Albatross

I love this piece because it is richly haunting and explores the actual causes and effects of imprisonment, instead of having folks pop out chipper and happy right off. Complex and intriguing... You're going to make me start reading fanfic again, aren't you? ;-)

I love it

Date: 2005-10-21 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] cheshyre
Wonderfully evocative.

Here's hoping the bad juju from that writers' group washes away quickly, because you are a very skilled and very creative writer. [By which I mean to say, you come up with great ideas and tell them well.]

A pox on that writing "instructor." I've been in a couple writing classes. Ridicule of participants' stories is totally uncalled for. [Sometimes fun can be had from tearing apart published work of outsiders, but you just don't do that to somebody who's there!]

Anyway, be well and keep your spirits up. I don't know who this guy was, but you've got probably thousands of readers who feel differently. I wonder how many of his readers ever contacted him with praise...

Date: 2005-10-21 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insipid-paragon.livejournal.com
*fangirls you liek whoa* I can't believe I'd never read of your incredible writing until now! But after some wibbling, I volunteered to write Percy/Snape for [livejournal.com profile] hailiebu's Percy Weasley Fuh-Q-Fest, and she mentioned that if I didn't, you might, since you play with them and I have to admit that even though I am a huge lover of both Snape and Percy, I'd never seriously considered loving them together or reading about them loving together, and certainly not writing about them loving together, and if I do, this'll be my first (public) fanfic ever, so I wandered over to see what I could see and now? Completely intimidated.

Your writing is amazing and this story is gorgeous and intriguing and Percy and his magic, it's just so sad but there's so much hopefulness, especially since I read The Albatross first and saw the progress made with the shop and their sheer cuteness and Snape is so protective of Percy, awww.

*deep breath* Sorry. When I get excited, my sentences kinda...explode. And your writing? Gets me excited. It's really excellent. And yes. Sorry for the rambling!

Date: 2005-10-21 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dingdongdevious.livejournal.com
That was really nicely written! I don't think you deserve to feel depressed about your writing. You're one of the best writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading. This entry was really great and is just brimming with deeper stories and themes. Can't wait to read more! ^_^

Date: 2005-10-21 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queen-larry.livejournal.com
This is really good!! Very well done job!! I love Percy fics the most!! And I read Albatross on ff.net. I really like your stories, please keep it up!!

Date: 2005-10-22 06:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/meara_/
Ohhhh I'm so excited at the prospect of a new story.

You are a wonderful writer!

As for that editor... Off with his head!

I'm one of those "omgzz I can't believe I'm actually replying to [livejournal.com profile] icarusancalion. She's like one of my fave fan fic writers omgomgomg" fangirls. Complete with valley girl accent, I might add. Pathetic really, but true. I've held you in fandom esteem for a verra long time.

Date: 2005-10-23 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/rantipole_/
I think I might like this even better than Albatross (?) ... because while I was reading that, I kept wanting to know the back story -- and here it is!

I love what everybody else loved: the absolutely real magic, the very snapish Snape. But mostly? The basic premise -- that it would be Snape who could see past Percy's checkered C.V. Just so Very In Character.

(very satisfied imaginings of how this will develop -- down-to-earth and believable all the way. *nods*)

Date: 2005-10-30 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] selkielass.livejournal.com
Beautiful and very intrigueing.
Sorry to hear about getting burned at the workshop- I can sympathyse as I had my confidence shaken similarly by people in a RPG who used far more subtle tactics to undermine my confidence in my writing and creativity.
I'm still blocked, but fighting.
I hope it soon comes much more easily for you.


icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

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