This is fantastic and a fantastic response to the prompt, although reading the prompt first did mean I knew where the story was going fairly early on. Nevertheless your writing was powerful enough to keep me going.
The countdown was very effective throughout, especially starting so far away from the event. The writing felt slowly paced and very deliberate so watching the countdown happening and Theo and Hermione stumbling into it made me feel a real sense of inevitable doom. Similliarly Theo and Hermione sort of stumble into their relationship. It felt very natural and I think you really captured their gorwing connection and respect for each other. I like the references to Theo trying to work Hermione out like a puzzle - it give a good insight into his own character.
One thing I really liked was how you fleshed out all of the characters as adults. The various ways most of the Slytherins from Theo's year had moved on, Hermione and Ron's relationship break down as well as Ron/Pansy's relationship made everyone feel a few steps removed from their time at Hogwarts. Having Pansy as a guest at the Burrow (whatever the tension) was a good way of showing they all being adults and Ginny and Hermione's interaction was lovely. Still, you give up a fair amount of darkness in their background which sets the tone for the fic - Goyle's imprisonment was a nice touch - it is stupid and trivial and yet so serious.
One small thing I disliked was how quickly the countdown sped up towards the end. While it does make the story race towards the conclusion it seems a little out of place with the pace of the first part of the fic. Also, the final conclusion is also written quite slowly and deliberately, so I think it might have worked better to have a little bit more going on between their break up and the finally resolution. I don't know what that would have been though- perhaps going back to Theo's POV like in the first section?
I love love love the ending. Very powerfully done. As I said, I had guessed where the fic was going to end up at the begining, but it still worked fantastically well as a conclusion to both the research and the relationship. It's intriguing to have a zombie outbreak fic that works it's way up to the outbreak and then stops. But it's a very complete story for Hermione and Theo and I absolutely enjoyed it. Thank you!
Author's Response: First, I must apologize for responding to this review so late. For whatever reason, this website apparently no longer e-mails me when I receive a new review, and I only checked them manually today on a whim! I'm so very glad you liked this story! It's a personal favorite of mine, as well, but doesn't get much attention because: 1) it's not the pair I usually write (and I feel like Hermione/Theo is a bit of a rare-pair anyway), and 2) it's horror and, even though it's zombies, the horror genre certainly not everyone's cup of tea. I really loved writing Hermione and Theo, and getting to flesh Theo out - making him human and lovable, as opposed to just a name JKR used every once in a while - was a real treat for me. I fell in love with him a bit, if I'm going to be honest, which made how I ended this story (or ended him, more appropriately) feel like the most satisfying kind of sinister. I prefer to read and write slow-burning relationships, and I don't think Hermione and Theo's relationship would've worked any other way. They were too separated in school to have built any kind of foundation, so I had to build from the bottom up, to be cliche. It definitely helped that they were adults. Hermione was always very mature, anyway, and I feel like Theo might have been a pretty serious youth at Hogwarts, but the whole House rivalry and blood prejudice whatnot still might have had its talons in him back then. He's certainly focused on more important things now. I love Ron/Pansy, and I will include them whenever I possibly can. Ginny's great to write, too, so having them as supporting characters just made sense, especially after Hermione's break-up. They're able to see and show more than one side of things, and give Hermione's pain some depth. I understand your criticism of the pace towards the end. I wanted to make it feel like Hermione's life was just zooming along, like she had nothing interesting to report on or think about now that Theo was out of her life. Her focus became her work and she settled back into her pre-Theo routine, though I hope I showed a bit of her healing process. I'm not sure what would've filled out the time, either. I didn't want to go back to Theo until the very end to try and keep the suspense up. On that note, it probably would've been much smarter of me to include the prompt as an end-note, rather than in the beginning. Kind of spoils the fun, doesn't it? Anyway, I'm glad that you loved the ending, even though you knew where it was going. I thought that working up to the outbreak would be a clever twist to the theme. Most of the time, you only see the aftermath, and what caused the plague is a mystery. Like in AMC's The Walking Dead. Gads, I *wish* we knew what caused that!! Hahaha This review was absolutely great, and - again - I'm so sorry I didn't see it until now! Thank you so much for leaving it!!
Very impressive a,d powerful story telling.
Author's Response: Thank you!! :D