Snape’s Boon – by AMR
This one doesn’t seem to be hosted online currently; I’m hosting my own copy until it’s up on a proper archive again.
Rating: Exceeds Expectations
The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Romance/Drama, 100k
Warnings: Non-Con, Pregnancy, Seventh Year
Hermione Granger wakes up from a long coma, suffering from memory loss. The last thing she remembers is taking the Hogwarts Express for her Seventh Year. Little by little, she pieces her life and her memory back together.
I first read this fic in 2006 when it was originally published. I did a full re-read for this review.
In my last few reviews, I complained about many Half-Blood Prince era fics being the same. Hermione is kidnapped by the Death Eaters, Snape ‘rescues’ her by claiming her, and they are forced to pretend they’re more intimate than they are for the benefit of the Death Eaters. However, I had to shut my mouth after reading this fic. It’s the EXACT same story elements, but it is leaps and bounds better than the fics I’ve previously read with this plot. Almost all of the complaints I had with those fics are thoughtfully addressed here.
In bad HPB fics, Hermione (and the author) seem to forget about or disregard the question of where Snape’s loyalties truly lie. In this fic, it’s one of the very first questions Hermione asks, and she’s constantly evaluating the evidence available, trying to piece together the truth. THIS is what an in-character Hermione is like! She is on top of the situation; hungrily eating up all of the information that she can obtain, making clever use of it when the time is right. Snape is also in character; he is polite and protective, but from a distance. He does not give away or offer any more than the bare minimum. I think he maybe is a tiny bit too open and kind, but I could believe it in the context of the fic; he must have been feeling guilty and wanting to comfort the traumatized Hermione.
There is a brilliant and enjoyable hook to this fic. Hermione wakes up with memory loss, and slowly recalls the events that she has missed as part of a storytelling therapy. I intensely curious (even though the premise is a bit guessable.) I just couldn’t wait to uncover the forgotten secrets in her mind. I found this storytelling premise refreshing; it was interesting to see the reactions of her friends and family to her confusion and mis-attribution. They can’t tell her what has happened, because that might interfere with her memory recovery. They have to be silent and let her piece things together herself. Very well done!
I want to re-iterate the intelligent ideas and self-aware characters in this fic. The author comes up with one of the most brilliant dueling ideas I have ever read about – using Legilmancy to see what spells your opponent will cast before he or she casts them. WHAT? AMAZING! Right? The Golden Trio develops their Occlumency skills in order to prevent duelists from reading the spells in their minds. There are many little things like this; the author is able to put together puzzle pieces from the Harry Potter stories in clever ways that make sense. It helps the fic to feel like a continuation of the real books. She’s not just playing in the HP sandbox, she’s adding entirely new toys to the playground.
The romance is just okay. ‘Kidnapped by Death Eaters’ creates the same artificial intimacy as ‘Marriage Law’ fics and the romance is not allowed to grow slowly and organically. It is believeable and it is not rushed, but these artificial intimacy fics can never be as scintillating or exciting as a romance blooming strictly from common interest and attraction. There is also a problem with the romantic pacing of the fic; everything is resolved and consummated about halfway through. There is no smut or sexual content, if that is a concern for you. Even the very-important-to the-plot non-con scene is politely skipped over.
In the first half of the fic, I really thought that I was going to give this my top rating. Unfortunately, the plot deteriorates quickly after the mid-way point. It’s one of those fics where the action is resolved, and the romance is resolved, and Voldemort is defeated…yet the fic just keeps chugging along. It’s as if there is a 40k epilogue. An entire chapter about a special ceremony. An entire chapter about the trial of a minor character that we don’t care about. An entire chapter about the history of Hermione’s family name. Just…why? If the author wanted to include these elements, it should have been done before the action or romance was resolved. To have it stapled to the end of the fic is tedious and quite frankly, boring. I was so disappointed that such a clever, interesting fic meandered into nothing.
The bottom line: It’s an exciting and page-turning fic with intelligent, in-character heroes. The premise is familiar, but it is rejuvenated by the exciting ‘storytelling memory recovery’ hook. I fully recommend the first half of the fic for any fan of the pairing (if you can stomach the warnings.) Consider putting it down when the action winds down, as the last half of the fic is essentially a 40k epilogue.