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The reveals are up for the sshg_exchange, and I can now lay claim to Madmen and Englishwomen. I want to thank the mods for making that exchange a pleasure to participate in in every way. I also want to thank pearle9240 for making the icon on this post, inspired by my story and left in a comment for me. I was thrilled and touched.

I can now thank my betas, bambu345 and Djinn and my Bripicker lifeasanamazon for all their hard work. I want to especially thank them for their work on the story I'm posting below. I asked for basically a last minute beta to get the story submitted on time, and they came through.

The below was originally written for silburygirl for the snuna_exchange. I was told it was too Gen, and would have to be revised were I to participate, so I withdrew the story. Hope you like it Sil!

Title: The Hunting of the Snark
Author: harmony_bites
Beta Reader(s): bambu354, Djinn; Bripicker lifeasanamazon
Recipient: silburygirl
Rating: PG
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Word Count: 1,144
Recipient's Prompt: Brief Fic Prompt One: Luna is living in an obscure place studying equally obscure magical creatures. Snape seeks her out, although whether or not he knows that he'll be dealing with Luna before he sees her is up to you.
Summary: Severus seeks out Luna's help for without it he shall "softly and suddenly vanish away." (Quoted phrase comes from Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark.")



When Severus arrives in Jukkasjarvi in early evening, the arctic gust hits him with an uppercut punch after the low blow of Portkey travel. He falls to his knees, retching. Washing his mouth out with snow, he feels a tap on his shoulder. Spinning away, he draws his wand--only just resisting the impulse to cast a Stunning Hex. It's been that sort of month.

Bloody hell, that kind of decade.

He blinks at the sight that meets him. Tufts of sandy hair peek out of the hood of a red reindeer parka. Luna's almost invisible eyelashes and brows mean that her protuberant eyes look house-elf wide. Marvellous. He's drawn on the very woman he needs to coax into lending him her most precious possession and terrified her.

"Wasn't your wand birch?" Luna asks without as much as a blink or quaver in her voice.

"It changed." He slowly returns his yew wand to its sleeve holster.



Luna hasn't changed in the five years since he last saw her, except maybe grown a little more into her own face, looking less like her mother Cynthia. The brilliant Cynthia Gladstone four years ahead of him at Hogwarts. While Luna's attention is on ordering their drinks, he slips a pill under his tongue for the Portkey lag, and swallows it dry--not that it will do anything for his neurological damage.

The Ice Hotel's glacial bar makes Severus feel encased in Dante's lowest circle of Hell, where the damned are immersed in ice to the depth of their treachery. A little preview of where he shall soon wind up, no doubt sunk to his eyebrows. Potter and Granger may have pulled off his freedom, but Severus doesn't feel exonerated.

The walls, columns, the bar itself all are suffused with a blue glow. All around them the patrons are clad in parkas and anoraks, their breath coming out in visible contrails like dragon puffs. The nearby magical ice castle of Durmstrang would be warm, but this Muggle construction, though warmer than outside, and blessedly out of the stinging wind, is still below freezing.

"….And you know they mate in mid-winter and hibernate in spring, I think, which is part of why they're so elusive. So, I convinced Professor Scamander that all the conditions for the Crumple-horned Snorkack can be found here, and--"

"Just the place for a Snark."

"Snorkack."

He lifts an eyebrow. "Right. Just look out for the Boojum, or you might 'softly and suddenly vanish away.'"

She tilts her head at that and gives him a Mona Lisa smile. Then a little giggle erupts, one that almost can be mistaken for a burp. And then she throws back her head and guffaws, her entire body rocking with her mirth; she breaks at the end into cackles and snorts. "Hermione gave me The Complete Carroll." Her smile dims a bit.

He thinks the gift was a way of saying "the only place you'll find your creatures is in a book like this." Or that Luna thinks so. She presents such a serene face to the world people count her as dim, forgetting just how piercing her insights can be. "You tracked down and proved that Nargles and Heliopaths exist. I wouldn't put anything past you."

At his words she beams at him, her face seeming more aglow in the candlelight.

He regrets his gibe about Snarks now. If that swot Granger meant to sneer at Luna with that gift, that is reason enough for his support, even if, in the past, whenever she talked about the Crumple-horned Snorkack, he was tempted to skip the Killing Curse and just strangle her with his bare hands. Yet, he seems to be the one on the Hogwarts staff least shocked by Luna's successes.

But he knows that, underneath all her fluff, Luna is never less than competent. She might have come up with the most ridiculous answers when he had called on her as a student, but the potions of the unbearable harebrained lunatic were perfect as often as that of the insufferable know-it-all. And when Luna returned to resume her sixth year, there was a new discipline and focus about her that dispelled her perpetual dreamy state. If her father's gaffe with the Erumpent Horn made her no less a true believer, it did make her ask Severus what it would take to make others believe.

Luna became a scientist. More her mother and less like her father. From crackpot to crypto-zoologist.

Severus mixes the vial of his Regenerative Potion into his Glögg, the hot spiced wine served at the Ice Bar. The warmth of the drink and working of the potion flushes his body with heat, a temporary sense of well-being. He hates to ask Luna, to be indebted to someone he failed so deeply. Answering her questions and suppressing his sneers for her last two years at Hogwarts doesn't, for him, make up for her being held captive on his watch, even if she had been captured off the school grounds.

He wondered back at Hogwarts if she took his guilt-born consideration for more, just as he wondered, at times, about her fanatical gaze being directed too often towards him rather than inwardly towards Nargles and Heliopaths and Crumple-horned Snorkacks, especially in the last year after her friends had left school. But he was her teacher, and it was easier not to let his thoughts linger that way.

"I…I need to study your mother's journal. Xenophilius said you always keep it with you. Filius told me Cynthia was working on recreating Rowena's diadem when she died. Now that we have the original back, even with the magic within it broken…" He might able to recreate it, see if the object had its famed powers; if it could regenerate nerve centres frayed by repeated Cruciatus curses and Nagini's venom. Perhaps help the Longbottoms as well.

"Of course."

"You'd trust me with it? I'd--"

"Your nose, it has some white spots. Does it tingle?" She leans towards him and presses her fingers against his beak of a nose, which feels hot and tender at her cool touch. "You might have a bit of frost nip."

Her fingers trail down to trace his cheekbone, then both her hands are cupping his cheeks. He sees her lips rising to meet his with an inevitable and terrible fatality.

He jerks away. "I can't." He knew what it was to love but not be loved back, feeding your soul on grass and dirt. His heart was frozen and numb, and he feared not only the fiery pain that would come with thawing, but that the tissue was damaged beyond repair. Fine recompense his heart would be for her help, even if he felt inclined to give it.

She shakes her head. "I won't let you 'softly and suddenly vanish away.'"

Comments

( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
lifeasanamazon
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
*hugs you hard*
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
*hugs you back*

Thank you for all your work on this--I always learn when you do this for me.
lifeasanamazon
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
I consider it a privilege to have an early peek at your work - it's seriously my pleasure.
renitaleandra
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
It is so not too gen. And if that idiot that's currently running the snuna exchnage doesn't hurry up and get her foot out of her ass she will soon find herself the sole participant of her exchange.

I mean, really, it's as though she wants all the fics written for HER and written to HER standard of Snuna.

Well fuck that.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Whoa, Renita. LOL *hugs* But thanks for the support--I appreciate it. I'm glad you liked the story :-)
tudorpot
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
The last two paragraphs just killed me, brilliant. I love the setting and how you portray them both. Is there more of this?
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
Nope. That's it. The minimum was 1,000 words and this went a little over. I also felt that you could see it as romantic -- that Snape could be seen in denial and Luna as in love. I like being subtle that way--and believe me, I have no intentions of ever writing Snuna again.

Thanks so much for the kind comment!
tudorpot
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Sad that you won't write Snuna, this was wonderful. I did see the romance, the denial and love. Just not very good at expressing myself.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
You're expressing yourself just fine as far as I'm concerned! Thank you for the comment, it means more to me than it even would usually.
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
OMG. I suspected that you might be writing for me and was all tingly at the thought, but this went beyond my expectations in such a tiny amount of space. It's rare that fic uses every single word as carefully as you do—I'd quote my favourite bits, but it would just be the entire thing.

This fic is beautiful and a little bit funny and a lot heartbreaking, even more so because there is that piece of hope. The Carroll references are so perfectly placed, and Hermione's gift to Luna is so very Hermione—yet makes me want to wrap Luna up in a hug.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting this for me anyway. It is the perfect gift for me and I love it.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
You're welcome. Were the gift for anyone else I might have been tempted to either keep it on my harddrive or just post it quietly months from now w/o even a reference to its origins. But I couldn't write a gift for you and not post it for you. I'm glad you liked it :-)
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
I love all the little flourishes that make me feel like this was a fic written for me, not just my prompts, with all my odd little tics in mind. I'm even more happy that I didn't have to wait for it.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
Hee. In some ways it made it easier and some ways harder knowing you as well as I do.

I was tempted to set it in Canada--they have Ice Hotels too. :-)

You should see the pictures I saw in researching this. I did a ton. They're stunningly beautiful. I thought I'd get the Northern Lights in too, but that didn't work out.
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
If you had set it in Canada in an igloo, I may have strangled you. Because I have actually had people ask if we live in igloos. (Usually tourists from the deep south who are shocked that there is no snow here in the middle of July.)

But you do really convey the beauty of it in the fic, and, oddly enough, I imagined the Northern Lights in my mental image even if you didn't describe it. They seemed fitting.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
Hee No igloos. But there are really Ice Hotels there. This was one of my inspirations...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NmLaFDJXKU

http://www.scantours.com/ice_hotel.htm

silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
I'm up for the Absolut Icebar!
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
There's one of those Ice Bars in Quebec I'll have you know... None in the US. I think.
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
You live closer than I do.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
Hmmm. That's true.

Otoh, that detail in the fic--about how cold it is. True.

Sheesh, I drink at a bar, I'd like to be...er...warm. I couldn't get that detail in, but they actually give you the drinks in glasses made of ice.
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
You are just making me want to go even more... Stop it. :P
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
I guess I shouldn't mention one year they had an entire orchestra of ice instruments including an organ?
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
When we are rich and famous, we will go.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
After Paris?
silburygirl
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Re: SQUEEEEEE! EARLY PRESSIES!
Where we will be Tumbleweeds? YES.
lariopefic
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Lovely Snuna--spare in the best way, which is very much how I see Luna operating. I don't see this as gen, but I'm glad we got to see it, even if it isn't in the exchange. Thank you for posting it. My favorite moment is when she touches his nose.

I laughed when I saw below that you don't intend to write Snuna again. Neither do I!! That was like pulling teeth!
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
I don't see it as remotely Gen either, but I didn't want to argue the point or revise it.

And I know what you mean. I really struggled with this, despite the short length. I actually went back and reread the Luna parts of the last three books. That in some ways made it harder, not easier. The Luna part isn't too hard to see. She sees the beauty in things other overlook, and she has piercing insights--she could see behind Severus' masks I think.

She's hard to write in her own right though, and it was harder for me to see Severus reciprocating--he might be more likely to say Avada Kedavra then "I love you." LOL. Or maybe I'm just more OTP than I thought. I do love Luna as a character though.

I was greatly looking forward to your contribution on the Exchange, and certainly intend to look up yours and others stories after the reveal as they hit the archives.
lariopefic
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
I understand not wanting to argue or revise. Completely.

I think my problem with writing Snuna is that I overthink it. I see where they would have points of connection, and perhaps grudging respect that eventually might soften into affection, but on the page, it doesn't... conduct electricity. That's a clunky metaphor, but it's like I have all the right elements, but they don't become anything.

And I do wonder, as you said, if it isn't my OTP shining through. :)


harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
I can see connections in places--they're both vulnerable, both bright. But Severus is more the logical scientist and Luna the whacky intuitive searcher. It was interesting reading that JKR said Luna did find some of her mythical creatures. I figured that meant she had to have become, well, more scientific for lack of a better word.

One thing JKR does well though, is show how Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Harry all just dismiss Luna as nuts--as someone to back away slowly from. But in the end, they are friends and allies, and I don't think there's a more moving (non-Snape?) passage in HP then where Harry takes solace from Luna for Sirius' death. So if you can take a similar journey...

You know, 25 out of the 30 signups were SSHGers actually. So I think its going to be something a lot of us would have struggled with.
kribu
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
I loved Madmen and Englishwomen! And had no clue it was you. :-D

The Snuna piece is lovely and serene and I'd definitely not have considered it gen. Certainly not with those last few paragraphs!
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks--I don't think it's Gen either. Not every romance is happy, or requited, or ends in marriage with an epilogue where the progeny are sorted into Ravenclaw and Slytherin :-)

I'm glad you enjoyed the story--and my SSHG contribution too. I know I enjoyed yours--it was a lovely way to open the Exchange.
(Deleted comment)
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
She's the most challenging HP voice to hit imo--she's terrifying. Rather Jossian that way.

I didn't see Gen either :-)

Thanks for the comment!
gypsy_morph
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
I'm in trouble if this is gen. I suppose I'll be asked to revise, as well. I can tell you that won't happen. It was hard enough to get what I did out in the first place.

This is a lovely, as your work always is. Don't let one ignorant opinion keep you from posting this elsewhere, if you're so inclined. :)
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the support and lovely words--I probably will eventually post it to FFN at least--where I have control of my own fic :-)

Good luck with your Snuna!
deeble
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
I really liked it, and I agree it's not gen. The ending is beautiful -- and what a sad, apt analogy for the state of Snape's heart.
harmony_bites
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC)
Not something that I planned, that icy theme, as something that grew from the setting. I always like that part of writing :-) Thanks for the lovely review!
(Deleted comment)
harmony_bites
Apr. 19th, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
because I can imagine him thawing under her touch, just as his nose does.

That's a lovely thought :-)

But this is so rich, from the Carroll references to the thought you gave to canon and how it fits into this new world, and to how these two people might fit together.

One thing about writing outside your OTP--you don't have much choice but to think about it!

Thanks for the lovely comment. Good luck with the Exchange!
somigliana
Apr. 19th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
Here via the kia_feed :)

This is wonderful. I love your use of present tense--it adds such lyricism and beauty to a piece in the right hands :) I'm sorry it was considered too gen; I thought the ending was heartbreakingly romantic, actually.

harmony_bites
Apr. 19th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
I don't believe it's Gen--just didn't want to argue it or to change to satisfy someone who felt that way.

And thank you for the compliment. Certainly I think your use of present tense brought a lot to The Silvering Divide so I'm particularly pleased you think I did well by it.
duniazade
Apr. 19th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, and the ending is just perfect.

feeding your soul on grass and dirt...
harmony_bites
Apr. 19th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
You don't grow on that--poor Snape--his situation loving Lily I find heartbreaking. That's why he needs Hermione Luna....

Thanks!
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )