To say Pawn To Queen is a Snape/Hermione fanfic is to barely scratch the surface. Its author, Riley, thought this unfinished pseudo-intellectual epic was True Art. She was particularly fond of name dropping C. J. Cherryh and Friedrich Nietzsche as her influences.
At the start, most of the plot is centered on self-hating!Snape mentoring naive-prodigy!Hermione so that she'll develop from being a pawn into a queen. Their relationship is made slightly awkward when Hermione is kidnapped by Death Eaters and Snape is forced to rape her to save her from being raped by Lucius Malfoy. Snape brings her back to Hogwarts afterwards and her apprenticeship continues, now with some Hurt Comfort leanings. Snape teaches Hermione that the Dark Arts are cool because Harry Potter apparently has Grey and Gray Morality now. Meanwhile, that loser Ron is acting jealous and suspicious, but everyone pretty much ignores him.
If you think this sounds like typical Snape/Hermione smut so far, you're right. Brace yourself.
Snape has a Non-Human Sidekick who seems to belong in the Disney Animated Canon rather than this deadly serious angstfest. Her name is Esmé and she's a six-foot feathered boa who rides around on roller skates and speaks in Sssssnake Talk. Her lines inlude "Sssssalamanderssss are sssstupid" and, during a dramatic scene, "Come quickly! Sssssseverussssss issss hurt!" Yes.
But Esmé is just the beginning. Snape introduces Hermione to a female Blaise Zabini. Blaise is an enlightened Slytherin unlike that idiot Malfoy, "enlightened" meaning "respects the arts and sciences while being Above Good and Evil". We also meet Half-Identical Twins Florian and Catlin, Expies of the Florian and Catlin from Cyteen, which seems to be the author's favorite book of all time. Ron is safely paired off with Quidditch-loving Catlin, but he continues to act like a dumbass anyway because he's Ron. Blaise turns out to be part of the Strega, a sect of uber-powerful witches who are better than you and will not hesitate to tell you so. It turns out the self-improvement course Snape has put Hermione on will ultimately lead to her becoming Strega.
At this point, the Strega and their awesomeness start to take over the story. Blaise begins inducting Hermione into the Strega while Snape is gradually reduced to being a side character who does nothing but praise Hermione while constantly wangsting about how he doesn't deserve to breathe her air. We're treated to Blaise explaining why Christianity sucks and her made-up feminine pagan religion is so much better, among a number of other Author Filibusters. Eventually, Riley just left the story unfinished and severed her ties with the fandom in 2003. She later became a vanity published author under her likely real name Elizabeth A. Romey.
Pawn To Queen provides examples of:
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to the Potter books, especially the four which were written at the time.
- Dead Fic
- Fandom-Specific Plot: Trope Codifier for some Snape/Hermione plots, mainly the Hermione-becomes-Snape's-assistant plot and the Death-Eaters-force-Snape-to-rape-Hermione plot. Pawn To Queen may also be the first fic to use the Hermione-is-physically-eighteen-from-using-the-Time-Turner excuse.
- Fix Fic: Riley thought the Harry Potter books weren't feminist and moral relativist enough. Of course, in the latter case, that might just be because moral relativism runs exactly counter to the themes of the series and was even espoused by a villain at the end of the first book. Riley tries to rework the series so that there is no "good" or "evil" side, but instead she just redefines "evil" as "people who aren't feminist enough."
- Insistent Terminology: You can't put the word "a" in front of "Strega". If a witch is one of them, you say say that she's Strega rather than "a" Strega. Blaise makes a big deal out of this.
- Insufferable Genius: Snape and Hermione, like in canon, but now with self-righteous intellectual elitism. Also Blaise.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Esmé. Why Riley thought such a character was needed in a fic with rape, self-harm, etc. is a mystery.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: The author
- O.C. Stand-in: The classic one, Blaise Zabini. Prior to Half-Blood Prince, Blaise was an undescribed, throwaway character and Riley wasn't alone in portraying him as a girl.
- Self-Harm: Snape is so angsty that he's a cutter. He nearly kills himself one time, but he's saved when his sentient, roller-skating snake goes for help.
- Teacher/Student Romance