So here I am, finally at the end. I have a lot of general things to say, but I'll save them for the end. To start, I'll just say that you really had me going with the entire first section of the chapter. I was completely convinced that Viktor was a dead man.
But that's getting a bit ahead of myself. Your Hermione was beautifully done. At the outset, you described her so well:
Those large brown eyes, always wide and alert. That look of practiced control, which never seemed to fully mask the current of emotion that lay just below the surface. For Krum, the resemblance between mother and daughter was haunting in its exactness.
And what I found impressive about it wasn't just the the descriptiveness and how true this statement was to Hermione's character. What I found most impressive is that fact that you really delivered on your premise with the way that you wrote her. Her words and her mannerisms all fit perfectly with that description. Even her actions at the end of the day, although we don't find out how much so until after the jump.
As for Viktor, Rose was his life, and without her there was no future for him. - I thought this was a really powerful statement. Taken out of context, it probably would have sounded kind of cheesy. But in Viktor's case it's profound. In a world full of people who either hate him for what they perceive him to be or are only interested in him for the things that he's done, Rose was a person who understood him and all of his shortcomings and loved him anyway. She was something that was actually worth living for.
I really liked Albus in his brief appearance. You can feel the doubt and apprehension radiating off of him, even though he's determined to carry out the task that's been handed to him.
And then they're both still alive! Actually, I wasn't sure about that at first. I've read more than enough afterlife scenes in HP fics, so I had that thought in my head for a while.
It took me a little while to fully figure out what Viktor tried to do for Rose, but once I did, I was in awe. I think we've known for a few chapters now exactly how important she is to him, but what really blew me away was the thought that went into what he tried to do. His analysis of her circumstances and the reality that would have faced her -- under incredible duress, I might add -- was amazingly prescient and accurate. If people learned that she killed Regina, even in self-defense, she never would have known peace again. The act of killing changes the world's perception of a person, no matter the particulars. I am so impressed by the way that you tied it all together, because I'm 99% sure that if it was me, I would have simply accepted the self-defense angle as an easy way out.
You did an amazing job of writing poor Rose's fractured, partially obliviated recollections of what happened in her flat. I thought it had the perfect feel to it. This paragraph was brilliant:
The memories were nothing more than fractured pieces of light and sound. It was like trying to view the world through a broken mirror, smashed into a million tiny pieces until the images were no longer recognizable. Only there was one thing Viktor hadn't been able to completely obliterate from her mind: the feeling of warm blood dripping through her fingers.
One more amazing excerpt and then I promise I'm through:
"I von't let you go to prison, Rose. Not even for a single day. It would crush you. Kill you."
"And it won't do the same to you?"
"There's a lot less of me left to kill."
How do you even do that? Those three lines are incredible. I'm so jealous it's sick!
I loved the fact that it was a team effort to spring Viktor from prison. Hermione, Albus and likely other unnamed parties took a huge risk to make sure that Rose didn't have to watch Viktor waste away in Azkaban. For quite a few chapters now, it's been really heartwarming to watch the way that certain members of her family, the ones who really know her and care about her the most, figured out just how much she cared for Viktor.
I honestly don't know how I feel about Viktor's final revelation about Regina's pregnancy. I understand that it gave Rose a certain form of closure and it ascribed a more human motivation to Regina's hatred of Viktor. Maybe it's me, but I liked her a little more when she was just around-the-bend-and-off-the-deep-end crazy. It's a matter of personal preference, I suppose.
OK, I lied. One final excerpt:
Maybe time just finds new ways to make you bleed. - That was poetic!
And then they ride off into the sunset together. Or take a portkey or fly on a broom. Whatever. The End. Absolutely beautiful.
Let me get the couple of typos I saw out of the way really quick:
... when he’d arrived with a message for Hemsely... - Hemsley
If I want to use it while away the hours on a beach somewhere... - ... use it to wile away...
I really had no idea what I was getting into when Jami talked me into reading your story, but I'm going to have to send her an extra-large bundle of cookies or cupcakes or chocolate. Maybe all three. This was one of the most amazing, unique, well-written and all-around inspired stories I've ever seen in the HP fandom. I can't say enough about your creativity and sophistication as an author. Thank you so much for this brilliant story.
And now, I can go read the sequel!
Author's Response: I'm a little sad to respond to this. I've so enjoyed reading all your reviews.
I'm so happy you liked Hermione here. She was a total last minute add to the chapter. I was just planning on having Albus come in, picking up right where the prologue left off, but I felt it needed something. And since I only skirted around the whole Krum/Hermione thing, it seemed a good way of giving that mini-storyline some closure. Hopefully it serves a couple of purposes: to let the reader know Rose is running off with some measure of support/permission from her family, and to sort of set up the idea that we are all capable of sacrifice for the people we love.
I tried REALLY hard to stay away from cheesy and over-sentimentality throughout the story. I don't know how well I managed, but hopefully, like you said, this line works in the context of the chapter. Krum is done with the bravado and games. Rose was his last shot at happiness, and he really doesn't see a future for himself without her.
I'll admit, I had to play around a lot with how to make what Krum did for Rose work... at least, I HOPE it all works. I struggled with how to make it believable that Krum felt compelled to take the fall for Rose and not just support her through whatever police inquest she'd have to face. In the end, I hope that the fact that Krum has been through a trial, been the subject of speculation, has some measure of blood on his hands, etc., makes him credible on the topic. He thinks by doing this, he's allowing Rose to put it all behind her and be free of Regina.
In my head, I see everyone but Ron sort of playing some hand in the escape... though most without admitting it to anyone else. In addition to Hermione and Albus, Heart gives them the money in a form the Aurors can't easily trace. Peter makes sure Rose has the bracelet so she knows how much she means to Krum, etc. I thought that way, the reader wouldn't feel so much like Rose was trading her friends and family's happiness for her own.
I'm not sure how I feel about Regina's pregnancy either. It was always "head canon" for me, but I went back and forth on actually including it in the story. I'm of two minds on it really. I think a villain that's just totally nuts can be a cop-out. But I also don't like overlooking the innate evil of some people and thinking every character that "goes bad" has some tragic past.
Yikes! Misspelling your own characters' names is a big no-no. Thanks for pointing that out.
Thank you so, so much for all the lovely reviews. I really am beyond thrilled that you enjoyed the story. It was a lot of fun to write, and I feel like I learned a lot through the process. There are still a lot of things I don't like about my writing, but I do feel like I'm heading more in the right direction than when I started the story. Thank you again for taking the time to leave so many wonderful and thoughtful reviews!