The growth of the relationship between Jeff and Gretchen is studded with such moments.
The moment the author takes to discuss how Jeff came to resolve the dilemma of how to deal with German women trying to become concubines to American men.
Melissa, in a way, played a role in that solution. Not directly, not immediately. But a genuine role nonetheless. The same role that teachers — good ones, anyway, and she was truly excellent — have always played. The same role, in a different way, that parents play. Parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents — even, when you get down to it, the guy at the corner grocery who, in an idle moment, tosses off his opinion of how the world oughta be to a youngster come in to buy a soda.
Good boys, like bad ones, are shaped. The process is not perfect, and goes astray often enough. The mold is crooked, often warped, cracked — but it's still a mold.
Then, after Jeff explains that he has proposed to marry Gretchen, Frank Jackson's impassioned defense of the relationship. Several members of the little emergency council are implying that Gretchen — by virtue of being a German refugee with nothing to call her own — can't possibly be good enough for Jeff. Frank gets absolutely furious, and demands to know whether they assumed his wife of thirty years was "some kind of Vietnamese princess," with the implication that there was no other way they'd have been stupid enough to make the claim that marrying a penniless refugee couldn't work out in front of him. We don't see a lot of her in the books, but Frank Jackson loves his wife.
Their first night together as husband and wife. If that doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, you are not human. The marriage proposal preceding that moment wasn't exactly lacking in the ability to warm hearts, either.
And who could watch the kids see the new couple the next day and not feel fuzzy? Especially Little Johann.
Jeff said nothing. He couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't sound melodramatic and corny. So he decided to spend these last moments of his life simply thinking about his wife, and hoping that their unborn child would enjoy the world as much as he had.
Rebecca catching sight of the Roths' menorah and realising that they are openly Jewish. And then Judith telling her that Mike had suspected she would feel safer with a Jewish family, and that was why he had asked them to take her in.
Again the Roths, but this time with Rebecca's father. When he asks them what sort of man Michael Stearns is, Morris Roth brings out the picture of Roth's father and Stearns grandfather, standing together in the ruins of the Buchenwald concentration camp. And then explaining that his father moved to Grantville because Mike's dad was from there, and he couldn't think of a safer place to raise his family.
Gretchen visits Hans while he is lying wounded on a hospital bed-after going through untold agony for months trying to help Gretchen protect their siblings. Gretchen says, "You don't have to be a soldier anymore..."
Before the battle of Jena, Ferdinand, one of the 'down-timer' German lieutenants, is mocking the Americans' decision to have women fight, saying that they'll start screaming in terror, their men will run off to comfort them, and it'll be down to the Germans to fight the battle. After the battle of Jena, in which Julie has taken down the top dozen offers of the approaching 'army', who then surrendered without firing a shot to the cavalry and APC, Heinrich (Ferdinand's boss) begins gently mocking Ferdinand for his cynicism ... and Ferdinand, after a brief hesitation, and after feeling the ridged scar a pike gave him in battle years before, abruptly snatches off his helmet and starts up a cheer for "Joo-li" that the entire German contingent joins him in.
Frank: So, niece of mine. How does it feel — being cheered yourself, for once, instead of leading them? Julie: Feels great.
Julie Sims explains the astonishing change in Melissa Mailey — and the change in her relationship with her former students — in three words: "Now you're Melissa." Those three words encompass a year's worth of growth, change, and increasing warmth — not to mention a love affair — for the "Schoolmarm from Hell", and bring Melissa herself to tears.
First, whatever other Grantvillers thought of Tom "Stoner" Stone, his sons deeply love and respect him as a father. In the words of his eldest son Frank:
"Pop, you have not once, in the past fifteen years, been stoned. Don't think we haven't noticed. Once in a while, about half as often as most guys' dads drink a six-pack, you've been a little buzzed. Never when we needed you. Maybe the rest of the town thinks you're a doper, but we know better. Always have. You've been a damn fine dad, as good as the best, and better than most. No shit."
Second, after he has finished his first batch of dyed embroidery thread, he shows the father of the woman he loves, the father who had prohibited their union because he was Unable To Support A Wife, that he lives by the American proverb of "where there is a will, there is a way".
Finally, silence again. And when Guildmaster Edelmann turned back to face them, he was wearing an entirely different expression than the one he'd arrived here with.
"Also," he said. "Ja, gut. Und wann moechten Ihr beiden heiraten?"
Tom didn't need Klaus's translation for that. Magdalena's shining blue eyes were enough.
Amazingly given his role in the first book, Admiral Simpson earns a few of these, particularly in the course of his grooming of Eddie Cantrell and Larry Wild as naval officers.
Eddie Cantrell: Yeah, sure, Simpson's a bastard. But dammit, Larry, he's our bastard.
Simpson's heartfelt breakdown when he finds out that Eddie Cantrell survived the Battle of Wismar is proof positive that it's far from a one-way street. He may not be able to find the words for it yet, but John Chandler Simpson loves his Navy boys.
"The Danes—it seems—oh, Jesus—" Tears were starting to leak from Simpson's eyes. Mike was astonished. He hadn't thought the man could cry. "He's alive, Mike," Simpson whispered. "He—" Now he broke down, in the complete manner that a man will, who has no idea how to do it.
David Bartley earns two of these in "The Sewing Circle" from the first Grantville Gazette:
First, after the hiring of Johan Kipper, when David explains to Johan why the uptimers treat him with respect.
"I am not afraid of you." David said it clearly, honestly and without the least trace of fear. "I don't have to trap you into doing something that would be an excuse to punish you. I don't need to make you weak, to feel strong, or safe. That's why we act the way we do, Johan! The way that seems so wrong to you. Because we are not afraid. Not the way these German lords are, and because we are not afraid of you, you don't have to be afraid of us.
"Here is how you should act around us. Do your job as well as you can. State your views freely. If you think I am doing something wrong, say so. I may, or may not, follow your advice, but I won't punish you for giving it. I promise you that. Can you do that, Johan? If you can, you will have a place here. For as long as we can make one for you."
Second, when he supports the takeover of the company by Karl Schmidt because it would make his mother happy.
At the end of The Bavarian Crisis, Maria Anna's brother Ferdinand convinces their dying father to reaffirm his love for her and assures their younger sister she won't have to make the unhappy marriage she did in the original timeline.
1636: The Saxon Uprising
In Chapter 35, when Gustav Adolf shows signs of being near a full recovery:
"Dear God in Heaven," murmured Hand. Some parsons might call that blasphemy, but he didn't think so himself. Blasphemy was the sin of taking the Lord's name in vain. Up until this moment, the colonel might be fairly accused of that.
But no longer. It had apparently not been in vain at all.