Thirty-One Days by keelhaulrose


Rating: Exceeds Expectations Plus

The Basics: Modern Era (2012), Action/Romance/Time-Travel, 110k

Warnings: Sexual Content, Non-Con Reference (not SSHG), Time-Travel

Hermione Granger’s emotions are raw in the heat of the Final Battle in the devastation of what Harry has told her about Snape’s memories, of Harry’s upcoming sacrifice, and the death all around her. She is given the choice by a Headmistress portrait to go back in time and change the fate of one of the war’s casualties – her former professor, Severus Snape. Little does she realize that this is no mere time turner – the Headmistress transports her all the way back to Severus Snape’s sixth year at Hogwarts in the 1970’s. She has thirty-one days to change his fate. But how?

This fic is just what I needed after reading two 500k+ highly revered epics back to back. A short, charming, witty and well-conceived fic that brings Hermione and Snape together in a realistic way. I don’t often enjoy time-travel fics because I imagine teenage Severus as being sort of a Kylo Ren-esque nightmare, but he is drawn much more subtly here. I really enjoyed his character. Hermione was even better; a razor-sharp Gryffindor spitfire who would not suffer fools or tolerate being mistreated. She’s far braver and sassier than I, a rather spineless Ravenclaw, prefer, but honestly, it’s perfect! She’s a Gryffindor! It felt right. Excellent characterizations.

I also appreciated that Hermione did not have a clear understanding of her mission; this provided so much page-turning tension. At first, she thought she should stop him from trying to join the Death Eaters. Then she thought he needed to make other friends, like the Ravenclaws. She thought perhaps she could convince him to invent a powerful antivenin to use against Nagini. Of course, the true answer involved her starting a relationship with him, and I won’t spoil the reason that this would help him survive Nagini. It was so true to Snape’s character, and so beautiful; her realization about what she needed to do nearly brought me to tears.

I will quibble that the ending, when she arrived back to the present day, was not quite what I hoped. They had this beautiful, emotional moment, which one chapter later was destroyed by Snape immediately joining the Death Eaters in his rage, but I guess that’s how it had to be. Hermione’s discovered ‘purpose for going back’ did not play out plotwise, which I found very disappointing. The method of his survival was not thematically satisfying, nor it didn’t make sense. Why even bother going back, if she was just going to meddle in the present to save him?

There are a lot of minor plot mistakes and inconsistencies like this (some of them are enumerated below in the comments.) The fic is imperfect and imprecise, almost rushed, which would usually bother me – but somehow it seemed to fit with the aggressive pacing of the fic and Hermione’s sense of disorientation. Another interesting issue were these little ‘this is what I learned today’ character reflections at the end of each chapter which felt too neat, too juvenile, like a Young Adult version of SSHG. The pairing usually needs more seriousness and heft than this fic offers; but I was in the mood for it and found it charming and refreshing.

A small digression: one of my favorite hobbies is board games. I used to think that I preferred huge, epic, all-day-long board game adventurers like Twilight Imperium III or Arkham Horror because I enjoy deep immersion and flavor. But as I have advanced in the hobby a bit, I’ve learned that some very clean, very well-designed games can deliver this feeling in a much shorter time. Arkham Horror: The Card Game for example delivers all of the awesome Lovecraftian spine-tingling adventure of Arkham Horror in a condensed version in a tiny box. I can have an adventure in one hour, put it away, and pick it up again to progress the campaign later. All of the same awesome immersion, but much more accessible and honestly more satisfying because it’s far less hassle. That is what I feel this fic is; almost all of the romance, emotional content, and satisfaction of a sprawling epic, but condensed into a tiny box, a few hours. A truffle instead of an entire cake, with almost the same satisfaction level. That’s incredibly difficult to do and I think she the author does a bang-up job delivering her story in this short length.

Lastly, I issue my standard disclaimer for all Maurader-era time-travel fics; it’s not believable that Hermione would meddle with Snape’s life but not whisper to James and Lily, ‘Do not make Pettigrew your Secret-Keeper.’ I understand all of the reasons why she ‘can’t do that’, but I find it unbelievable than anyone could resist that temptation, or that Harry could ever forgive her for not doing so. This is a huge, story-breaking issue that needed a lot more explanation than it was given. This is one of the reasons I struggle with time-travel fics.

The bottom line: This is a clever, intriguing, page-turning fic with tons of momentum and fantastic characterizations (above and beyond the norm, a truly excellent witty spitfire Hermione) and a beautiful emotional heart that nearly brought me to tears. There are some plot mistakes and inconsistencies that are disappointing, but the fic is still worth a read. If you are looking for a deep, immersive, thorough undertaking, this is not for you, but if you are feeling like a bite-sized SSHG romp that still delivers emotion, romance, and satisfaction, this is just about perfect.


2 thoughts on “Thirty-One Days by keelhaulrose

  1. I really liked the story but I felt like it lacked… something. I can’t quite describe it but I felt like I never felt invested. Maybe it was the way it was written? Hermione didn’t feel like she had a very specific line of thought and her character’s motivations were all over the place.

    For example, Hermione mentions Snape’s love for Lily in the first chapter and it’s one of the reasons she volunteers to go back. But then a few chapters in she’s shocked that Snape and Lily were friends back in the day(???)

    Another thing that irked me quite a bit was that the author took great pains to show how absolutely distraught Hermione was over Harry being the last Horcrux. So much so that she was willing to go to her death with him just so he wouldn’t be alone in his final moments.
    And then she switches over to Hermione being upset over Snape (Hermione has only been told that he was on their side). Hermione all of a sudden is willing to take a detour in time just to save him when she has no guarantee of a future to come back to (for him) considering the fact that Voldemort hasn’t been conquered yet!

    While other time-turner fics explain away Hermione’s unwillingness to divulge information on her fear of changing the future wherein Voldemort does die, in this fic she doesn’t know how it all pans out and yet she doesn’t change anything?

    Again, I really really did like it. But silly things like this, inconsequential things really, didn’t quite allow me to sink into the story as much as I would have liked to.


    • I quite agree with most of your points! I actually had another entire paragraph in this review full of my minor annoyances, but decided to delete it because most of them were so small. Your Snape/Lily catch was one of them! The worst for me was that her whole trip was kind of pointless since she ended up using a Time-Turner in the end to heal him on the day-of, which is the objection I kept in my review. Wasn’t the whole point of her trip to convince him that he was worth something and should save himself – and then someone else saves him? WTF? The antivenin being placed in the cupboard was not enough. I was expecting to see him fight back against Nagini or at least come up with some sort of clever magical McGuffin to convince Voldemort and Nagini that he was seriously injured when he wasn’t. I’m rambling. Perhaps the larger point is that all of these annoyances, yours and mine, add up to a trend of’messiness’, which seems worth noting. Maybe I’ll edit my review to reflect that. I was very nearly teetering on rating this EE+, maybe I’ll end up doing that after all. 🙂

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