This story grabbed me right from the start. Personally, I will never understand the massive amounts of hatred that Cho Chang receives - she was a young girl whose boyfriend died, and was obviously grieving terribly. I think that people are often far too harsh on her character, stereotyping her as some pathetic whiny girl who only thought of herself, or as an idiot and a shallow popular brat. It's very rarely that you see a story cast her in a positive light, and the minute that I saw that this was Cho/Cedric I had to read it.
And I'm so glad that I did. The amount of detail that you included in those first few paragraphs was equal parts lovely and chilling, and it's all very subtle. The way that Cedric forgets his friend's first name, the sound of the nurse fixing the sheets, the feeling of the light touching his head, his thought that he's still in the guard barracks - it's all very disquieting, and gives the reader a sense of wrongness that is very hard to ignore. And it's incredible, the way that it is all written and described before his eyes have even opened. Sight is usually the sense that writers depend on the most, and the fact that you integrated all of the others without even bringing that into the picture made the opening paragraphs of your story very, very interesting to read.
Your characterization of Cedric was brilliant as well - again, he's a character that so often falls into stereotype and cliche that your spin on him was incredibly refreshing. He didn't fall into the overly-macho category that people seem inclined to cast him in, and I really appreciate that; there's nothing that bugs me more in a story than a character falling into a cliche, and you did a wonderful job of not only avoiding that, but making him an entirely unique character all together.
The plot of this story is fascinating as well - I live for AU fanfiction. It's why I'm so awful at writing Hogwarts era, because I never really know what to write, but you've done a much better job of that than I ever could ;) I've never seen a story like this on HPFF before, which makes me incredibly excited to keep reading and see how it is going to turn out. Because at this moment I have so many questions - what happened to Cedric? what is wrong with him? were exactly is he? who are all these people in his memories? - that I'm far too excited to continue reading, and I can't help but wish that there was more than one chapter XD But I suppose that will just make the next chapters that much more exciting to read, so I'm looking terribly forward to them!
Wonderful job! I can't wait to read more :)
Author's Response: Hey Molly! Thanks again for the swap :)
You know, Cho does get a lot of hate. I wasn't a huge fan of her pairing with Harry in the book once they actually became a couple, but I don't know that I ever grew to hate her quite as much as some people in the fandom. What she went through was really traumatic. Part of my aim with this story was to recast Cho in a more positive and stronger light.
I'm glad that the imagery here worked for you, and that you picked up on the subtle sense of foreboding I tried to build into the first part of the chapter, before Cedric takes that breath. Something isn't quite right, but he can't figure out what it is, and I wanted to use his senses to lead the reader along on that journey with him.
Cedric really needed to seem normal, for me. Like any young man during this time, he's being thrown into a conflict that's much bigger than him and of which he really has little understanding--though who really had much? Still, I hope parts of canon Cedric will come through, because I do still love canon Cedric.
No worries, the second chapter will be up shortly! And I hope to see you return then :)
Thanks again for this fantastic review!