Leni Jess (leni_jess) wrote in hp_essays,
Leni Jess

Writing the new-canon Snape and Draco

If you haven't read HBP, beware: Spoilers within!

Now Draco's got a life, let's write him as well as Snape

In the course of a discussion in cordelia_v's journal about her essay I Love To See Him Suffer: Draco Abuse in HP Slash Fanon she said, As long as there's someone as interesting as Snape in canon, why would anyone want to waste time writing Draco? I rushed to explain to her the quite different enticements of the two characters, for a writer.

She suggested I convert my response to that question to an essay to post here, so...

HBP has provided fascinating new material about Snape and Draco's characters and feelings as well as their actions. Each has an appeal of his own, and writing each is a different challenge.

The adult Snape is immature (especially in relation to Harry and certain others), probably abused and certainly exploited, but he's also a powerful wizard with lots of experience to draw on.

What's interesting about writing him is getting him to change that set-in-concrete outlook (unless one's going for straight darkfic), giving him experiences which he can learn from and at last grow up with. Perhaps, deprived of Dumbledore and on his own, no longer locked into Hogwarts and all the attitudes that go with it, he might start to re-evaluate some things. On the other hand, he may be frantically running on the spot and too busy staying alive and ahead of the game to think at all in a reflective sense. There's a world of possibilities for change (just as there are for him to sink into himself and become even more, and justifiably, embittered and distrustful, even if he's not also drowning in guilt).

Lots of good fic should come out of his present situation. There have been some excellent short genfics written already, though slash (or het) is implicit in some (and one is definitely slash). I'm sure this is nothing like a complete round-up! but I enjoyed all these and their exploration of new canon.

Most of these fics have Snape interacting with people we see him with often in canon, but not all, just as most of them illuminate Snape from the other person's point of view.

There are two excellent fics of Severus Snape with Percy Weasley: josanpq's After the Fact (~ PG), and icarusancalion's Two Way Mirror (NC17 indeed).

Severus and Remus meet, very differently, in arionrhod's Gethsemane (PG) and musigneus's Not All Roads Lead Home (R).

Minerva seeks Severus out in meri_oddities's Endings ('not quite Gen', ~PG), whereas he looks for her in musesfool's The Only Truth That Sticks (G).

curia_regis's Defining Moment (PG) follows Snape through HBP in a series of vignettes.

Some stories pair him with Draco (not necessarily in a slash sense), like crikkita's Heartstrings (PG), or orange_crushed's Newts and Salamanders (PG).

I haven't a rec list like that for Draco, beyond the last two, but that's because, though I can enjoy reading Dracofic, I went avidly looking for new fic about Snape. I am, however, looking forward to writing the new Draco HBP revealed to us. At last there's more to work with besides a pretty, snotty kid who needs a lot of concentrated effort to turn him into a real live boy!

I try to write canon!Draco (though the one I wrote in early 2003 fics is clearly not in line with OotP – the young man in HBP has much more chance of evolving into that person). I feel it's cheating to make up a Draco that doesn't have a fair bit in common with JKR's spoiled, sheltered, short-sighted, forever-beaten-by-Harry but coming-back-for-more brat. It's much more fun trying to make that version of him interesting and sympathetic. It was good to see HBP Draco get a life, however stressful it was. Just as it was good to find out in OotP that he loved his father (we already knew he loved his mother).

I don't adore the twerp, and I'm not trying to redeem him (until HBP he hadn't done anything to warrant being redeemed – so he's a nasty brat; what else is OotP Harry, half the time?). I do like to see him getting a clue, growing up, making up his mind, maybe even acquiring some sense and some empathy, if only the hard way. And I like to write him that way. At last canon has given me some legitimate grounds for that development of character and adulthood. I still think he's a wimp, but he might get over it, especially if he suffers prettily enough. (The pretty is for the observer, not for him. I don't doubt Myrtle enjoyed those sessions in her bathroom, even as she offered sympathy.)

Draco is immature for his age despite a surface sophistication, uncertain (despite his assertiveness), uninformed, unthinking, and in my view rather short on courage except when desperate. He's never had to test himself before this sixth year, and then faced what was probably a far worse test than Snape's first year with Voldemort. He's been deprived of all support. He has nowhere to go (as far as he knows), though I suspect more people than he could imagine would help him if they were convinced he wanted to get away from Voldemort.

He also, during that year, proved to be quite resourceful, achieving something Voldemort never did – masterminding a Death Eater invasion of Hogwarts, even if he couldn't do the other impossible thing. He's not a killer, but he's a smart young man, which it's good to have confirmed. He organised it, and he executed it – that's quite impressive. (With the involuntary assistance of those open market traders Fred and George. I want to see someone jumping on them about that – unfair, but it might make up for all the rotten things they've never paid for. But that's another essay rant.) His situation with Voldemort now may not be happy – Voldemort will be angry at the failure and jealous of the success.

At long last Draco has forgotten about Harry, save for that token vengeance on the train. His mind is taken up with the people truly important to him, his parents (and his own safety too, naturally). That leaves plenty of open space for futurefics, not just fics set in sixth and seventh year.

Writing that mindset, that situation, is very different from writing Snape, even young Snape, who would have been hardened (if embittered) in a way Draco never was. I rather look forward to tackling post-HBP Draco, although I haven't been bitten by any urgent plot bunnies yet.

I'd like to see a good Gen fic (or several) on Draco's sixth year, as well as substantial post-HBP Snape/Draco. (If anyone knows of any already, linkies please?)

Anyone now who writes post- (or during) HBP Draco must, if they're honest, face up to the angst, and deal with Draco's grief and desperation and fear. Torments of the damned (cordelia_v's wish for him), anyone? I think so.

Both Snape and Draco are challenging. Now. I don't think Draco can be thought a waste of time any longer.

~ ~ ~ ~

My thanks to cordelia_v, both for the original encouragement to convert my impulsive comments into an essay, and for checking over the final version, making suggestions which ensured I completed the conversion process.

Tags: characters:malfoy family:draco, characters:severus snape, fandom:fanfiction
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