Aquittal – by coffeeonthepatio
Rating – Exceeds Expectations
The Basics: Post Deathly Hallows, Friendship/Romance, EWE, 200k
After the Final Battle, Hermione returns to Hogwarts as an adult to finish her 7th year, without Harry and Ron. She is suffering from after effects of Bellatrix’s torture and a messy break-up with a cheating Ron; as a result, she has painful tremors and insomnia. Her only refuge is an enchanted courtyard hidden away in the upper levels of the castle. This peaceful, magical courtyard is also a favorite refuge of another sleepless war survivor – Professor Snape.
Despite using war wounds as setup, the fic quickly moves on from these angsty themes to focus on the blossoming friendship between Professor Snape and Hermione. There is no plot to speak of, other than the occasional owl from Harry on Ron; instead the fic focuses on the inner monologues of Hermione and Snape as they struggle against their blossoming friendship. The romance is slow and well-written, with all of the proper restraint and second-guessing expected with the genre. Snape is perhaps softer, more pliable than usual, but not by much, and this is possibly explained by the surreal solitude afforded by the courtyard.
There is not as much wit or sharp banter as I prefer, but other than that, Hermione and Snape are both solidly in character. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the the supporting cast. Ron is a slovenly, ill-tempered louse and Ginny is suddenly ambitious and cruel. A few characters are treated well (Harry, Luna, the other Weasleys) but Ron and Ginny are almost unbearably out of character. Additionally, great liberties are taking with the lives of the supporting characters – this is definitely an Epilogue What Epilogue fic that strays far from the generally accepted after-lives of the characters.
The fic definitely lacks a plot – I am not one who insists on an action-filled war plot, but there should be *something* that keeps the pages turning, other than the romance. Then again, I stayed up 4 hours past bedtime reading the fic last night, so it is definitely a page-turner, plot or no plot.
The bottom line: An excellent fic for those interested in the slow-simmering friendship/romance more than plot. The courtyard scenes are unparalleled in their quietly enchanting portrayal of blossoming love, but the lack of plot leads to a haphazard, tying-things-up-too-neatly feel to the final quarter. Despite that, the fic is very satisfying and I would recommend it to almost any fan of the pairing.