Hello, again! I'm still kind of at a loss for words. THIS is the chapter I've been waiting for since I started reading the story. In your author's note, you expressed a little anxiety about how you handled it. I don't think you should feel worried at all. I thought you did a marvelous job!
But! We have rules and practices and procedures around here, so let's take things in order. Cold showers kill me. I would honestly rather stink, but for Hermione in her present state of mind I think it works. It seems like it shocks her racing, over-analytical mind into silence for a while and it allows her to live somewhat more in the present than in the twisted maze of what's yet to come.
I both loved and hated the way that their conversation played out after she gets out of the shower. Not "hated" in a bad way, like it wasn't written well or something. But hated it in the sense that things were moving in such an amazing direction and then a textbook moment of "Ron being Ron" messes it all up. Before I get to that part, these two lines gave me chills:
"Um, do you..." Ron cleared his throat uncomfortably, looking everywhere except her, "...need anything?"
"Maybe," Hermione voiced, a little pleased by his obvious embarrassment despite herself.
Wow. Talk about a moment that's just begging for something more to happen. Gah! How do you do these things? The conversation that follows is so natural-sounding between the two of them. And the most ironic thing about Ron's bristling reaction of her mention of Jonathan -- and I actually just picked up on this as I'm reading through for the second time -- is that he mentions Chelsea first! I think that Ron's insensitivity rating just went up a hair.
And then the topic of going back comes up. Sigh. I suppose it was unavoidable and it would be very unrealistic to imagine Hermione just abandoning her fiance, her medical practice and all of the other trappings of her old "new" life this easily, but it's still a splash of cold water in the face. Ron clearly doesn't handle it well, which was perfectly in character for him. He's always one to get infatuated by an idea and follow his heart through to the end.
I'm going to make a very careful note of Ron's dream. Parts of it I've figured out already and other parts, like the man with the bricks, are still mysterious.
You kept the ball rolling with Ginny and Harry really well in their middle section. So much tension between the two of them: determination and frustration on Ginny's side and guilt, anger and grief pouring off of Harry. And Ginny's ultimatum was perfectly in character if not exactly well thought out, which actually makes it even more in character. Crookshanks is my hero!
I love this... connection that Ron seems to have to his former life. It gives him the insight into everything to help them find their way. It was really peculiar to see Ron waking Hermione up early, by the way! Clearly something has put him onto the trail! I hope you elaborate more on how it all works when the time is right.
Gah! (OK, I know I say 'gah' too much.) The reunion was perfect. Ron and Hermione are obviously confused, but the way that Harry and Ginny just have to stand there for a moment, making sure that it's real, it was brilliantly done. Ron's reaction was hilarious.
You made me so happy with this chapter! I know I'd be foolish to assume that it's "happily ever after" from here and everything just becomes wonderful and then The End. That wouldn't be very fulfilling. But I'll take my happiness while it's here. Until next time...
Author's Response: Waah, such a longity long review. I love it! I've been waiting for this moment, too! It's interesting how there are so many moments in the story you're writing you can't wait to get to, and then when you get there there's so much fear of whether you did it justice etc. That's why this review makes me so happy! As always, you just understand the characters I'm trying to write and it's so rewarding for me.
Ron is one of my favorite characters ever, and I really don't like botched characterizations of him, but he can be insensitive from time to time, so his jealousy had to lead him there one day. :D As for cold showers, I love them precisely because it helps me to just clear my mind and relax when I'm feeling like going over the edge, so it was just an idea I threw in there. I can imagine that some people hate cold water, haha. Ron really IS connected to this world much more than Hermione, in so many ways. He doesn't have anything holding him back, he's just stumbling in the dark to find his real place in life and he's about to! :)
It's definitely not a happily ever after, but it's a great beginning for someone that has been living in a lie all this time. I'm happy this made you happy! I like to make my awesome reviewer happy, yes I do! :)
Harry and Ginny love each other, but I think that they've been sometimes dueling each other's temperaments throughout their marriage. Still they find a way towards each other. :)
THANK YOU THANK YOU ZOMG THANK YOU for another lovely review! I'm running out of words to say to you, because this is just so wonderful!