Unlikely Partners – by Dafina
Rating: Acceptable Plus
The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Romance/Angst, 110k
Warnings: Seventh Year, Sexual Content, Violence, Remus/Tonks
I was very close to putting this as one rating higher; but the last few chapters were so weak that I decided to downgrade it. This is probably the best of my Acceptable Plus reviews, at least currently. It’s readable and enjoyable, with no moments that really irritated me; but it also lacked high points. No gripping action, deliriously romantic tension, or clever “A-ha’s!” It was simply ‘pretty okay’ all of the way through.
I think the largest problem is the Mary Sue syndrome in the fic. There is a magical deity who is fixated on Snape and Hermione as the saviors of the wizarding world. Voldemort is jealous of Severus’ power (LOL.) Hermione is a rare beautifully bright pure soul who is wounded by Voldemort’s presence. Their love is a transcendent soul bond. Just eyeroll after eyeroll of lavish praise and circumstance bestowed upon our heroes. These characters are best written as two who bond because of isolating intellectualism, in my opinion. To have them as superheroes in transcendent love is just silly.
Following that criticism, you might have guessed that both characters are slightly out of character. Neither is as witty or biting as they should be. Snape, especially, is way too concerned about Hermione’s welfare. He’s a double-agent Death Eater spy. His life is extremely stressful and FULL to the brim. He doesn’t have time to spend entire days teaching Hermione Occlumency so she can bear Voldemort’s presence. And certainly, if he brought himself to do that, he wouldn’t be concerned and courteous. He would be annoyed at the inconvenience and snipe at her the entire time! Hermione, similarly, seems to lose her agency after falling in love. They consider committing an act that would remove Harry’s magic permanently (for the greater good) and Hermione doesn’t even consider, mention, or even seem to think about the repercussions of that for HER BEST FRIEND. Even if it’s logically right course of action, she should have had a lot of inner turmoil about causing such harm to her friend; it’s not even mentioned.
Another problem is the action pacing; we spend almost half of the fic in the first few days thoroughly exploring minor events, yet the last few chapters fast-forward through incredibly important events with short summaries. I would say the author was bored with the fic and wanted to sum up, except that she wrote a(n unfinished) sequel! It seemed like she enjoyed the build-up but didn’t know what to do once the romantic tension had burst. As a reader, I felt quite the same.
That said, the fic does do a lot right. The Voldemort Death Plot is extremely clever and interesting, and one that I had never read. It’s something that could have believably happened in the books and been amazing. (Certainly better than, ‘Draco disarmed Dumbledore and Harry disarmed Draco,’ but I digress.) The writer has a knack for coming up with totally original ideas that still believably fit into the wizarding world.
The romance does progress at the proper pace – maybe a tiny bit too fast, but acceptable. he smut is written well. Unfortunately, after consummation, the romance becomes totally unbelievable and non-compelling. In the latter sections of the story, they have transformed into Generic Leading Man and Lady; a common problem in fanfiction, but especially horrible in this fic. There’s a bit of telepathy and soul-bond action, which is one of my favorite plot devices, though the payoff of the telepathy is low because of the blandness of the characters. No witty mind-sarcasm to be found. I do like the use of Occlumency/Legilmency to bring the characters together; but again, the good idea does not bear fruit of any kind.
The bottom line: This fic was written by a good writer; it’s well plotted and very creative. However, the writer did not have a deep understanding of Hermione and Snape and the story suffers greatly for it. The story is littered with good ideas that lack payoff and satisfaction, either of the romantic kind or the action kind. It’s an acceptable read but I’d put it at the very bottom of your ‘decent’ list because of the bland characterizations.