Fic Title: Finding Himself
Rating/Warning(s): I'd say R, but some might say NC-17 (hard R?)
Genre: coming-of-age, romance, suspense
WIP?: No (although the sequel is a WIP)
Story Summary: (author's) 'The boy who almost died' has to figure out what it means that he didn't. Harry's tumultuous fifth year at Hogwarts is Cedric's seventh and final. Bound together by a shared trauma survived, both boys fall under Ministry suspicion and fire, and both undergo a 'deconstruction' of sorts in the face of that crisis. Who is Cedric Diggory? He must find himself amid rumors of war, the awkwardness of falling in love, and a crippling personal tragedy. (parallel canon)
Why This Must Be Read: This is the fillet mignon of Cedric/Hermione stories. C/Hr is a rarepair, but a fairly sizable one, and there IS no better example of the pairing than this AU novel. It starts with the premise, "What if Cedric didn't die in the graveyard?" and goes from there.
This is NOT just a recasting of Order of the Phoenix from different points of view. She manages to both stay true to the canonical events of the fifth book AND add entirely new plot twists, including a fantastic power struggle between Head-Boy Cedric and Ministry-plant Umbridge. If you think you hated Umbridge in OotP, you'll DESPISE her after reading this. It's brilliant. Some additional pluses include a creative new magic using art/painting, which includes a compelling OC (Cedric's mum), plus the best use of Hufflepuff House I've ever read in ANY fic. Chapters 31-32 leave you cheering (and you'll never think they're the "left overs" again). Oh, and Cedric is in a wheelchair ... but it's not one of those Afterschool Specials, even while being very realistic. (What originally drew me to this story WAS the disabled aspect, because my sister is in a wheelchair. I'm very iffy about "disability fics," but this isn't one. It's got a disabled character, but it's not a "disability fic.")
Oh, yeah, the romance! :-D It's a really wonderful treatment of first love that builds naturally AND doesn't demonize any of the other characters (canon love interests) in the process. If you think "Hermione and Cedric?!?" going in, by the end, you'll have a hard time picturing her (or him) with anybody else.