"Literally, the Strength card represents strength, courage and determination – trusting your own abilities. It also represents compassion. It is intellect and reason coupled with enthusiasm and energy. You can deal with whatever life throws at you. Overcoming an obstacle. Seizing control of your destiny.
It is a time for being constructive, not destructive. It is a time for discipline and listening to your inner voice for direction. Understanding the consequences to your actions. It can also speak of the awareness of temptations and the ability to overcome them.
Reversed - Too emotional. Not thinking situations through. Loss of courage. Abandoning your values. Being driven by impulses. Unjustified use of strength. Resorting to intimidation in an effort to manipulate others. Tyranny. Lack of faith. Abuse of power. Succumbing to temptation." - bewitchingways.com
The One With the Letters
Still Life in Wood and Parchment -- Team Canon
This is an epistolary fic, which has a series of letters written during 1998 and 2022 and the years between. It was the shortest fic of the four at around 6000 words and therefore the first I read. It's also my top pick for the round.
The main difference from past letter!fics is that instead of having just one set of letters from Draco to Harry, we also have a second series of letters between Harry and Draco's progeny - namely, Al and Scorpius. At the end we have a final letter from Harry that connects the letters from the past to the events that started the story. So we come full circle.
One thing I'd like to note is that the bit of sleuthing Al and Scorpius did cause a bit of déjà vu for me. My mind kept going to Ari Munami's The Lightning letters.
Oh, and I wish the author had included the opening lines like "Hey Scorp" or even just a "Draco" to start it off - I couldn't quite keep track of who was saying what sometimes or who was being addressed in each successive letter.
Still, Draco's personality really came out through each and every one of his letters, and the single letter by Harry was particularly gripping. Scorpius and Al were less definitive and almost interchangeable. Yes, we had Scorpius who was more level headed and logical and traumatized!Al, who kept getting an eyeful but it felt like they were there more to be a narrative voice for the reader to connect to than as people. I do wish Al and James and Lilly had been developed a bit more.
The last line is a killer though - I kinda fell over laughing XD And for some reason I kept picturing red_rahl's grown up Harry and Draco in this fic XD
The One With the BDSM
Life's Hidden Forces (can only be discovered by living) -- Team Epilogue
It wasn't until I read this fic that I realized it takes a certain kind of fic to NOT squick me out with BDSM. Unfortunately, this one didn't quite fall into that category. The last fic I can remember which did work for me, was Koji Ma Oshi by Sol 1056 - which I recall as being simply amazing. It can be read as original slash and IMO was a great primer to the BDSM world.
Moving on, the concept of the fic was definitely different from the norm. Where usually Epilogue!fics involve Harry and Draco leaving their wives, this fic provided an alternative scenario where by the end we have Harry married with kids and with a lover on the side. Harry needs more than what Ginny can give him and Draco is able to give it to him. A situation that is accepted by both Draco and Ginny.
Now, I absolutely love unconventional relationships (polyamorous too) but I need them to have more...balance? I definitely felt the lack of development in this story. You need to be able to really get into the characters' psyches with this kind of a plot, and that just did not happen IMO. Ginny witnessing the events that took place between Harry and Draco did not gel with me. Or at least, it would take a lot more character development and words to get me to the point where I can accept that kind of situation.
Writing BDSM is hard. Sure, we all enjoy a bit of bondage in our fics but getting the S&M to work...*sigh*
The One with Teddy and the Sheep
Of Geysers, Unexpected Rain and Icelandic Sheep -- Team EWE
This is a sweet and charming travel!fic which also has a generous amount of kid!Teddy. Harry and his godchild are in Iceland when they stumble into Draco. Teddy spends the fic getting to know the sheep in the area while Harry gets to know Draco.
I'm not sure why but the fic didn't connect with me at all. The characterization and interaction didn't resonate- I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and a fight to occur between Harry and Draco, even with Teddy around. I would have actually enjoyed it more if the names were changed and this were an original fic - 'cause it did not feel like Harry or Draco to me - just two characters who happened to share their names.
I did like Teddy using his magic to get his way and the mood!hair-color was ♥ The obsession with the sheep got a bit old though. I would have loved to see more details on Iceland, the people and culture instead.
The One where Draco has Arthritis
On One's Knees -- Team Fanon
I burst out laughing the moment Draco started rewriting Lavender's correspondence.
This fic is definitely fanon, with an ex-convict!Draco whose stint in Azkaban has left him scarred, jaded and cynical. And despite it being epilogue compliant, the story also feels slightly AU. It's not just the fact that Harry is a healer. The Ministry's policies on war criminals came out of left field. The wizarding world just felt very raw. We also have a bit of Bastard!Ron so if you like that one Weasley, fair warning. The only other fic that feels slightly similar is by marcasita: The Ghost of St. Mungo's
I don't know why but I'm more comfortable with reading victimized!Draco who has survived intact rather than gentleman!Draco who doesn't have a wicked bone in his body. Though the amount of things that had happened to Draco made me wonder why he wasn't more traumatized or more vicious as a result. He seemed too balanced after going through such a nightmare. Some other things also felt a bit extreme - Drunk!Cissy made me all :(
And like the previous fic, we again have a sweet!Harry who doesn't really do it for me. I wish he had gotten some more development. Ultimately, it felt like a Draco recovery!fic with Harry/Draco on the side.
For some reason rather than a Brit narrating, I just kept imagining an American voice talking...and by the end of the fic I was thinking about Queer as Folk. Yeah, the mind is a scary place.
My Top Teams for Strength : Team Canon followed by Team Fanon
All Tarot Prompts can be found via the fests tag.
My masterlist of recs for hd_worldcup can be found here