As the Pages Turn – by StormySkize
Only hosting my copy because Ashwinder is down. Thank you to the reader who sent it to me. I will take this down when the story is hosted properly again.
The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Parody/Romance/Humor, 100k
Warnings: Time Travel, Silliness
Professor Granger and Professor Snape fall into a book – a book that seems to be parodying the events of their younger lives. “Harriet Stranger” and “Seximus Snape” must work together, re-living the events, to escape the book.
As you know if you have read any of my reviews, I prefer a reserved, scholarly, intellectual approach to this pairing…because that is the kind of people that Hermione and Snape are. For me, this pairing just does not lend itself to comedy. As a result, I tend not to like most of the WIKTT (When I Kissed the Teacher) Archive stories, as it’s sort of a humor inside-joke based community.
However, this is an interesting WIKTT prompt – Hermione and Severus must fall into a book together. It seems like the spirit of the prompt is meant to have them fall into a bodice-ripper, but thankfully this author chooses a vaguely more acceptable direction, a parody of the Harry Potter stories. Everyone in the story has different names – Elvis Slumbermore, Barry Plotter, etc. It’s a fun idea, although reading the fake names for 90,000 words was tedious.
I feel as though the author missed a lot of opportunities with this story. Having Hermione and Severus go back and relive the events of the Harry Potter books as adults provides an opportunity to get Severus’ perspective on the events of the books – which is the Holy Grail of this genre for me, something I have been looking for a long time but have never found. How was Snape feeling about having to kill Dumbledore? What possessed him to say, ‘I see no difference?’ The Shreiking Shack from his point of view. The exact nature and history of his friendship with Karkaroff? The author choose not to indulge in any of those potential beautiful drama and psychological depth. Instead, she gives us an almost verbatim play-by-play of the events of the books, with changed names.
Their journey through the last book, “Barry Plotter and the Search for the Sundered Soul”, is interesting, because Deathly Hallows had not come out yet and she was forced to improvise. This was by far the best part of the story. I have really enjoyed the few fics I have read that are essentially Deathly Hallows from Snape and Hermione’s perspective (perhaps because I am not a huge fan of Deathly Hallows) and that is what we get in the last section of this fic. Hermione and Severus (I’m sorry, ‘Harriet and Seximus’) work together to create a potion that will destroy Horcruxes. The Final Battle is interesting; our heroes have to relive it over and over again, via Groundhog Day, because the book is waiting for them to do something (spoiler: kiss.) I thought this Groundhog Day plot device was excellent – frankly I think the story would have been improved by framing the whole thing this way.
I must say that the characters were spot on. I think by this time in the fandom, HBP era, everyone pretty much has Hermione and Severus down. There’s a lot of seepage from other fics – you see things like, ‘Insufferable bastard!’ and ‘sandalwood’ that have started to define SSHG. It’s like on Project Runway; everyone is spending so much time together that ideas from one designer are bound to leak into another designer’s project. This happens in SSHG, especially in communities like WIKTT. They’re in character, but it’s missing that something special, the author’s take or special touch. It feels like ‘student work’, to use the Project Runway acronym again. Almost like a fan-fiction of better SSHG fics. It is a parody, so I suppose that might be literally what it is.
I should add that there are no ‘lemons’, no sexual content. This doesn’t bother me, as you can write a scintillating romance without that, but this fic is pretty passionless.
The bottom line: The author creates a parody setting appropriate for humor, and then wrote 100,000 words. Nothing is funny for that long. I found the first 3/4 very boring. I’d recommend starting with the “Barry Plotter and the Search for the Sundered Soul” section, as that is when the romance and the original content begin. Everything before that is a summary of the HP books, with the names changed.