Pygmalion – by Pidwidgeon37
My hosted copy: https://sshgreview.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/pygmalion-pidwigeon37.pdf
Sadly, the entire fiction archive that hosted this fic went down in 2015. I am happy to report that I found a copy of the story and am hosting it here, at least until it is back up on a proper archive site.
Rating: Exceeds Expectations Minus
The Basics: Classic Era (only compliant up to GoF), Humor/Drama/Romance, 100k
Warnings: R SC, Non-con (not SSHG)
This fic is at the lower end of Exceeds Expectations and should probably be lower, for reasons which I will detail below, but this fic has that special something; I have too much affection for it to rate it any lower.
I was highly amused by the basic set-up of this fic. It has that hindsight-enabled naivete that only Classic Era fics can have; Hermione is married to Harry (who is now a grumpy, distant, starched-collared Minister of Magic) and Snape is Headmaster of Hogwarts – working alongside his best friends, Sirius Black and Mad-Eye Moody. What a ridiculously charming premise! It doesn’t feel out of character (except Harry – he’s definitely out of character), it just feels like nostalgically wonderful Classic Era. Back in 2002, the author had no way of knowing that Sirius Black and Mad-Eye Moody would both be dead by the end of the series. Black and Moody provide most of the humor in the fic; their dialogue is ripe with R-rated winking and twinkling.
While I loved the aforementioned Classic Era nostalgia and humor, the fic does have some serious problems. The SSHG romance is rushed – it’s basically love at first sight and the rest of the fic is resolving real-life considerations and tragic misunderstandings. There is no satisfying, symmetrical physical or emotional plot; merely new issues that arise every few chapters and are quickly solved. However, most of the tragic misunderstandings are unique and the solutions are usually creative.
The Hermione in this fic is decently well-written and has a lot of depth. The author goes into the details of her relationship with Harry – why they got together, what went wrong, dreams deferred, etc. There are spotty characterization moments, though which drove me crazy. For example, Hermione is a mysterious, reticent, Slytherin-esque goddess in many scenes, and an irate, irrational, childish Gryffindor in others. What? The same goes for Snape – he will wink and twinkle with Black and Moody, but then be a tortured, emotionally unstable ex-Death Eater in the next scene. I have read fics that blend humor, romance, and drama in their characters, beautifully, but this is not one of them. It is like eating a cake where the dough was not thoroughly mixed; overall it is delicious, but there are chunks of flour and lumps of flavor that sour in your mouth; it should have been blended better.
The bottom line: This fic is charming and unique, and I have a lot of affection for it, but if I’m honest, it has serious problems that do not allow for a higher rating. The plot is scattered, the characters have multiple personalities, and the relationship is rushed. Read it for humor, nostalgia, and fun – but skip it if you’re looking for a carefully plotted, slow-burning romance.
Note: There is a 150k sequel, Orpheus, which I have not yet read or reviewed. http://www.obscurusbooks.org/html/pigwidgeon37/Orpheus/