On the eleventh day of Christmas...
More like the eleventh hour...
So I want to start this review off with something like, "Poor Draco," and I think I'm finally about there. That whole business with his aunt drilling him of all those names, and then the relief he felt when she cast the spell to "help him" and it didn't do anything, and then it did. Yeah, I think I'm there. Poor Draco. If he didn't think he had a way out before, he surely doesn't have a way out now. He's in too deep. His aunt has him by the... err... neck, and she's not letting go. Not when she has so much at stake here either.
I loved how you made use of those names later on, and didn't just have them as a convenient way to showcase Bella's insanity, which would have been enough, but nooo. You had to make them intricately important to the rest of the chapter too. Clever thing, you. The running inner monologue that Draco uses to keep his cool was both disturbing and neato cool at the same time. And I also love the inclusion of Avery and your description of him. Just as I saw him too. :)
Boy, that family history sure does come in handy, doesn't it? He has the sense enough to tell Voldemort the truth when asked, which I think might have scored him a point, or at least half a point with the dark lord. He really is desperate here, not knowing which way is up, but not really caring because any way he looks at it, he's one step away from something worse than death. The description of how Voldemort applied the dark mark was appropriately vivid and physical, which ties in to all your other physical-based descriptions. The way that you kept that throughout the story was really a good touch, even if it did make me think I was reading something by Clive Barker at times, but I think that's what you were going for.
The progressions in this were really well-thought out. From the repulsion and then the acceptance of being smothered by Bella, the way he finally understands what he's gotten himself into, how he loses all thoughts of being a haughty little spoiled boy and grapples with the reality that he's basically meat on a stick for someone else's whims... it all tied together. The only thing that didn't resonate well with me was his last line. I don't think that Draco at this moment would have a future to look forward to. Perhaps it was the only comforting thing his mother might be thinking. Of course, I have no suggestions for anything better, so I'm not all that helpful there. I liked your chapter title for this, because it shows how desperate they are to survive whatever the next nightmare leads them to. (Probably more Bella... *shudder*)
Author's Response: Sigh. You make me wish I'd made this story longer. Then you could review it some more. Alas, here we are at the end.
Wow, so I finally got you to think, "poor Draco". It wasn't necessarily what I set out to do, but it feels good nevertheless.
The Black family's teaching methods are definitely barbaric, but they do provide Draco with a modicum of protection at the end. Without something to focus his thoughts on, he probably would have broken down in front of Voldemort or peed himself again. And my version of Avery was obviously heavily influenced by yours. So thanks for that!
Draco does try to BS Voldemort for a moment, but it plainly doesn't work. So he just admits the truth, which at least keeps him alive. Contrary to what Bella's convinced herself of, if Draco had pushed his luck any farther the Dark Lord probably would have killed him to set an example for the others. Having the son of the mighty Lucius Malfoy grovel for his life was exactly the show that Voldemort wanted to put on for his other followers.
Everything is a test of some sort with Voldemort, so I have to imagine that taking the Dark Mark was a grueling ordeal. It's one more way that his followers are required to demonstrate that their loyalty to him supersedes any concern for their own well-being.
By the end, he is finally aware of what he's gotten himself into, and he's realized that he's going to have to sacrifice a lot of things if he's to have any hope of surviving. You know, I didn't think so much about the last line when I wrote it, but I definitely see your point. I think at that moment, he was so happy to have survived his first encounter with the Dark Lord that he's irrationally exuberant about any number of things.
Thank you so much for all of your wonderful reviews of Marked. It was a joy to read and respond to each one. Happy New Year!