As the Falcon Hath Her Bells – by HyacinthMacaw
Rating: Exceeds Expectations
The Basics: Classic Era (GoF compliant, not compatible with OoTP or beyond), Action/Friendship/Romance, 100k
Warnings: Violence, Non-con (not SSHG), Attempted Suicide
This fic starts in Hermione’s sixth year, but progresses quickly to her seventh year and her eventual professorship at the school. This is a good fic, but not an excellent one.
The biggest strength of this fic is in the plotting and the writing. The action plot is well-concieved, obviously planned out in the early chapters. There are many satisfying moments where something quietly alluded to in the early chapters is explained later. The characters introduced all play a part in the plot; the large characters playing a large role and the small characters play a small role. These might sound like obvious praises, but after reading so many rambling fics, it was a pleasure to read something meticulously crafted. My English degree gives this fic a nod of satisfaction. 😉 This is one of the only fics I have read in which I was gripped, surprised, and emotional at the inevitable Voldemort confrontation scene – it had twists and irony worthy of the original books. If you love action plots, you will love this fic.
However, despite the tight, clever structure of the plot, something is missing from Snape and Hermione’s relationship. The characters are a little bland; their opposing traits are dumbed down to make them more similar. Hermione is too subdued – rarely showing her Gryffindor qualities, and Snape is too emotionally open – giving too much of himself away. They are still basically in character, though; these quirks are smaller than I make them sound. And I can’t complain about the plotting of the relationship; they are appropriate reticent, the process is gradual, and their eventual love-confessing scene is believeable – but somehow, the whole process felt passionless. No spark, no thudding hearts, no sexual tension. I like my Snape and Hermione scenes to have snark, intelligence, and witty banter – in this fic, Snape and Hermione are quiet and to the point, speaking almost only of the action plot, drawn together out of seeming inevitability more than anything else.
The bottom line: Despite my reservations, I would recommend this fic to almost any fan of the pairing. I usually dislike action plots and I still very much enjoyed this war-focused fic. It is well-written – and even rarer, well-plotted – with strong, original ideas. Read it for the adventure, not the romance.