Hello, love - since you asked:
So, Draco's dream. Can I congratulate you on writing a dream that has definite dreamlike qualities? That's a generally unusual thing, especially in fanfiction. It's got a measure both of surreality and of relevance to the dreamer's mental state and external stimuli! OMG! :D
Unfortunately, though, I'm having trouble visualising the corridor thing:
The lamps flickered with an unnatural, bluish glow as Draco walked slowly down the endless hallway. The pale light failed to penetrate the suffocating darkness and it allowed shadows to consume everything except the path that lay before him.
So... where are these lights? I'd assumed from the first sentence that they were on the walls of the corridor, but then if it doesn't illuminate anything but the path before him, does it mean that Draco has headlights? Are the lights just decorative and Draco's got a glow-in-the-dark path instead? Has it just got really weird architecture? Have I simply got the wrong end of the stick? Sorry for all the questions, but I just can't figure it out logically and so it kinda messes with my visualisation of Draco's surroundings.
But anyway. Corpses. Your descriptions of them are beautifully macabre, especially the small details you tell us about Narcissa; the tendrils of smoke and blueness of her lips are, for me, the things that really make that image work.
I've got something to ask about Harry's corpse though:
Ordinary in death, unremarkable as he wished to be in life.
Okay, so this is from Draco's perspective... and I'm not really sure if Draco would have noted that Harry has that personality trait. He doesn't generally think that deeply about people whom he doesn't count as loved ones or current/former friends. Maybe it's just me, though.
Moving on. Draco and Narcissa. I like how you've highlighted the contrast between Draco's interaction with Narcissa, and how Lucius would have interpreted Draco's dialogue. Draco has pretty complex relationships with both his parents, I think, and this exchange proves that.
Speaking of parents and children - Astoria and Horatio. I don't know if you put Horatio explaining his position in there for my benefit, but thank you anyway, because it was difficult for me to get my head round.
Astoria is... yeah, she's still perfect, and I do kind of want to see her mess something up or be pointlessly cruel or something, at least - she's rich, beautiful, likeable, perceptive, a bit innocent, uncommonly charitable, fairly studious, and she's got a sense of humour. I don't mean to be so harsh - I mean, it's not that I don't like her - but can you see where I'm coming from?
Onto less pretty things. Decadent, aristocratic Blaise is a gorgeous image. Thank you for including that because it made me happy. And it contrasts well both with recovering-Draco and with the rest of the clientele. And. Erm. I've not got much else to say. Damn. Sorry.
Author's Response: Ha! I'll keep asking, too. You have a way of looking at things that's very different from other people. It always gives me ideas.
I struggled a lot with how to explain the way I imagined the hallway looking. It's lit by oil lamps that are spaced along the wall, but the ceiling is so high that it's completely lost in the darkness. The lamps are also weak, so much of the floor is obscured by darkness. As hard as I tried, I couldn't figure out how to explain all of that without losing the bare, spartan feel that I was going for.
I take your point on Harry, although I'm sure Draco heard or heard of his desire not to be treated differently at various points in their school years. Not that Draco would have believed it. It's worth rethinking...
To me, Draco's relationship with his mother is very different from the one he has with his father. Before the war, I think his father was sort of an idol that Draco placed on a pedestal. After the war, Draco knew just how fake his father could be, although I think he still aspired to be like the man he thought his father was before the war. His mother was the one who actually cared for him and loved him. I don't know whether he desired or expected that from his father.
I agree that Astoria has been a bit Mary Sue-ish so far. Don't worry, I'm planning to fix that soon enough. I always had Horatio's rationale in my mind, but I did decide to make it a lot more explicit based on your reaction to the last chapter. See, good reviews really help!
I enjoyed writing the section with Zabini. He is a definitely contrast to what Draco aspires to be. And now he also owes Draco a favor. Keep that part in mind...
Thanks so much for all of your unique and interesting reactions. They really help, as I hope you can see.