Reading Reviews for Detox
  
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Review #1, by Veritaserum27 Epilogue

14th September 2014:
Hello, hello!

I made it to the last chapter. I'm so sad right now :(

Loved this. Loved it, loved it. The parallels are absolutely brilliant. First off, we have the tie in from chapter one of PS - Draco's thoughts on their sort of people reminded me of Vernon Dursley's thoughts about the Potters. Then it extends to the "wrong sort of people" and we see that Lucius has not changed his ways. Although, given his condition, he may now be at a point where he flat out doesn't remember the Second Wizarding War and is pushing his old-school Pure Blood prejudices on his grandson.

As a side note, you've brilliantly characterized the relationship between Scorpius and Lucius without him even making an appearance in the chapter - pure genius. Lucius obviously dotes on Scorpius and they are clearly really close, as is evidenced by his disappointment that his grandfather is too sick to accompany him to his first trip on the Hogwarts Express.

My favorite parallel is the insecurity of the two boys (Albus and Scorpius) at being sorted. Harry handled it much, much better. Draco had to do some backpedalling, but came out fairly unscathed.

I love your characterization of Scorpius. He's been sheltered and has grown up in an adult world, with little exposure to other kids. Hogwarts is going to be a shock, to say the least. It seems appropriate that he isn't as confident or arrogant as his father was at that age, but he still retains the reserve and a bit of his cunning nature.

I find it interesting that Astoria still holds a grudge against Ron for the arrest attempt at Greengrass Manor - is this yet another parallel because Ron is forever going to hold a grudge against Malfoy for Hermione's torture at Malfoy Manor? Hmmm... very clever indeed, Dan.

One tiny typo:

"Yes, I want to be in Slytherin. But what it the hat puts me in a different house? What will Grandfather say?"

I think you mean: ...what if the hat puts me in a different house...

The only thing that struck me as really odd in this chapter is when Draco suggested that Rose was cute. I know that he's only doing it to see if anything takes hold in an attempt to irritate Ron, but I'm having a hard time imagining that he would even entertain the idea of his son and Rose being a couple - especially given his and Astoria's distaste for Ron. It worked really well for the story and was a great way to segue into the next phase of Draco and Astoria's life.

Weasley's daughter seems a bit... delicate to me.

I see what you did there - very clever. Although I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of that story (**hides behind couch to avoid being hit**). I know it's headcanon for most people. If you want the full version of my explanation, I'll send it to you in a PM, but for right now, I'll just say that part of my reasoning has to do with an "occupational hazard" for me.

But I can say that this story is now my headcanon for Draco/Astoria. It was awesome, entertaining at every turn and really made me understand Draco, Astoria, Narcissa and Purebloods at another level. While most writers are either brilliant or entertaining, you manage to capture both of those with each and every chapter. Thanks for sharing your gift.

On to Harry Potter and the Conspiracy of Blood

♥ Beth

Author's Response: Hi, Beth!

One thing I love about you reviewing my stories -- and I wonder whether you feel the same way -- is that you see parallels to the books in places where I never even thought about it. So of course my reaction is something like, "Oh, really? I mean, yes! Yes, of course I meant to do that..."

Draco still sees the world as cleanly divided between "the right sort" and "the wrong sort", he's just learned that expressing that point of view carries a cost. He's paid it extensively in his life and he doesn't want to see Scorpius pay it as well. It's not that so much that Draco's values have changed, he's simply realized that some opinions aren't worth acting on.

I thought a lot about giving Lucius a brief appearance, but I found that having the ideals of the old Lucius Malfoy looming over things had a lot more effect than having him appear and be a shadow of his former self. Lucius and Scorpius are very close, having spent a lot of time together as the boy grew up. He's filled Scorpius's head with a lot of ideas that will cause him problems in a few years. Astoria has tried hard to counteract the worst of those thoughts without being openly disrespectful to her father-in-law.

Scorpius is in for some big shocks at Hogwarts, not least being a certain dark-haired, green-eyed boy who gets sorted into Slytherin with him and changes what he thinks about a lot of things. There is a lot of Draco in him, but also a lot of his mother.

I don't think of Astoria's hostility toward Ron as being a parallel to anything so much as it's simply her protective nature where Draco's concerned and her unwillingness to suffer fools kindly. Ron was definitely being an idiot after the fight at the Greengrass home.

Thanks for pointing out that typo. I'll patch that up!

Draco is trying to torment Ron when he suggests that Rose is cute, nothing more. Little does he know... I get that Delicate isn't for everyone. But I enjoyed it and I liked including that small shout-out.

Thank you so much for the compliments on this story! I started it as a challenge entry and a gift to a friend and it really took on a life of its own. I probably won't be able to find the love to write Draco and Astoria again for a while, but they're definitely one of my favorite pairings.

Hugs!
-Dan


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Review #2, by Veritaserum27 Yes

25th August 2014:
Hi Dan,

I need to apologize for taking so long to get to this very important chapter! I was hoping to have this story all reviewed months ago.

Wow! The way you ended the last chapter, I didn't think that there was any way these two (or the rest of the Greengrasses) were going to get out of this one. You left the arrival of the aurors until the very, very end - with yet another fantastic fight scene. I love the way that Draco's focus never waivers. "Keep Astoria Safe." has been his mantra for the past three chapters. As soon as he sees his life clearly, he knows that it is worth less than her safety.

Some very important things happened in this chapter to solidify their feelings for each other. First off, they both grew up exponentially. They were both willing to die for each other, but Astoria realized that her death would also mean the end for Draco and so she found the strength to fight Gamp. I love how you were able to convey her insistent injuries throughout this chapter. It would've been easy to brush off the fact that she'd been hit with the cruciatus just a few moments before, but I could really feel her pain with every move she made.

Ron gets his comeuppance (I think that is the first time I've ever used that word!) from the earlier chapter where he humiliated Draco. He is called out by both Harry and Robards - and put in his place. I can't imagine that Draco didn't get a modicum of satisfaction from all of that. Although Ron always was more of a hothead, I can't exactly fault him. His actions are probably motivated by how Hermione was treated at Malfoy manor. If memory serves, that was merely a year before. Ron isn't likely to forgive that.

Harry is, as always the voice of reason in all this. It's really important that he was posing as Blaise because if not, it might've been difficult for Draco to prove which side we was on in all of this - the ending could've been very, very different.

I just melted with the tender moment between Draco and Astoria where we get to see their true emotions for each other. They both take the time to apologize and express their deepest feelings.

Horatio is a bit redeemed in this hospital scene - I like that he doesn't give Draco a completely clean slate, rather a small opening for him to prove himself. That is all Draco needs for the moment.

The scene with Draco and Astoria in the hospital bed was beautiful and perfect. I think it was important for him to break down in front of her and have her comfort him. It gives balance to their relationship where they truly know they can be there for each other in the long run. This has been mirrored throughout the story with both Lucius and Narcissa and the Greengrasses. It adds another layer to their relationship - and maturity.

The proposal was sweet and unexpected, but perfect just the same. These two have had so many obstacles along their way, it makes sense that, one the road is at least a little bit clear, they would jump right in.

This chapter was just perfect!

Beth

Author's Response: Hi, Beth! I love seeing you back again!

I wanted the story to go out with a bang, so leaving the arrival of the Aurors to the end was my last bit of fun with cliffhangers. Draco's focus is completely singular by this point. It's all about Astoria and what she means to him.

I like your observations on how the characters changed in this chapter. I agree that they learned some things about themselves in addition to laying it all on the line for one another. I also think it was important not to lose sight of the fact that Astoria had been hit by a terrible, debilitating curse and Draco was in rough physical shape as well. I think it adds something to the strength of their commitment.

Ron gets put in his place, which I think is how it should be. Draco took immense satisfaction in seeing Ron humbled, especially by Astoria. You're correct that a lot of Ron's hostility arose from his memories of being held prisoner in Draco's home. Harry once again helps to save the day. He has an unintentional habit of doing that for Draco.

I didn't want to leave the reader with the impression that Horatio is so rigid in his ways that he could *never* accept Draco in spite of Astoria's wishes. When confronted by very substantial evidence of how Draco had changed, he was willing to give Draco a chance. You're right, it's not a clean slate, but it's a start.

I'm glad you liked the part where Draco breaks down. I felt really unsure about it and my beta reader wasn't too sure either. In the end, I decided to keep it. I thought the moment was far too emotional not to have an effect.

I'm still not 100% sure about the proposal, but what the heck. They're not engaged, they're "engaged to be engaged". It's a small step.

I'm really, really pleased you feel that way! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #3, by wenlock Future Imperfect

22nd August 2014:
I like your story a lot so far. Especially Astoria. I like her innocence and ability to see the good in others. Reading this chapter, I found myself hoping that she will just relax and not worry about expectations. I like your portrayal of Draco's recovery. It is very realistic and in character. I hope the rest of this story continues to be this good.

Author's Response: I'm glad you like Astoria. Early in the story, I worried that she was too mature for her age. I really tried to make her more age-appropriate as the story went on and show some of her flaws.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. I'd enjoy hearing your reactions. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #4, by wenlock Sobering Up

22nd August 2014:
This is very interesting. So many people brush over Draco's recovery/change. I like the angle you're taking with this story.

Author's Response: Hi! I've read a few of those stories and I thought that they were missing a really important part of what I assumed happened with the character after the war. I wanted to try to show him in a more balanced and realistic way. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #5, by UnluckyStar57 Yes

15th August 2014:
Hi there!

So, this started out as another action-packed chapter, but it settled down at the ending, all winding up to the big finish--who knew that Draco and Astoria could be so fluffily, deliriously happy? :D But it would seem that happiness has indeed won the day, and peace reigns again--for now.

Okay, so as if AVERY weren't enough, MULCIBER comes in to wreak havoc... BUT THEN THE PLOT TWIST!! I didn't see that one coming, let me tell you! The battle between the Aurors and the neo-Death Eaters was pretty frightening and fantastic--I think it's really realistic that Astoria wouldn't have known who was friend and who was foe. It was in the midst of a battle in which the good guys were dressed as bad guys! I would be confused, I know.

Oh dear... Ron's little confrontation with Draco made me cringe. It's totally realistic for him to act that way, but I sure do hope that he mellows out with age. You know, during that part, I couldn't tell if the harsh depiction of Ron was due to the fact that Draco has a vendetta against him or if you, O Author, have some sort of grudge against everyone's favorite redhead. :P It was probably a rather accurate depiction of him, though, considering that he was talking to Draco, but this story is from Draco's point of view--we can't totally trust him to be honest about Ron, can we?

But Harry was chill. I admired him for telling Ron to stand down. And the fact that he masqueraded as Zabini was another plot twist that I didn't see coming. :)

One question: Who contacted the Aurors? That might have been mentioned in an earlier chapter, but I think I missed it. Was it Draco? Narcissa? The Greengrasses?

At any rate, Gamp goes to prison, yay! I hope Daphne sees sense and dumps him. Even though she's sort of dumb and vapid, she doesn't deserve a husband who doesn't love her. Nobody deserves that.

Cue the "aw"s as Draco chats with his future father-in-law. The scene was quite realistic! You seem to have a certain knack for realism--I like it! The part about Draco asking Mr. Greengrass to call him by his first name was very interesting and I liked the bit of pureblood etiquette that was thrown in--did you get that from pureblood wizard canon, or did you take it from Muggle society traditions? And I appreciate the fact that, even though Draco asked to be called by his first name and shows immense respect for Mr. Greengrass, he isn't going to allow himself to be cheated just so that he can potentially marry Astoria. He's got potions skills, after all, and he deserves to be salaried thusly. :P Also, he gets to escape from the cold-hearted research lab of Madame Blishwick, hooray! :D This is a very good career move for him, indeed!

Cue more "aw"s as Astoria and Draco start being all cute. Srsly. They are definitely going to become the pureblood couple that shares love and also the responsibility of running an empire together. As such, they're going to be cute when they're alone and totally domineering in public. And Astoria isn't going to let him push her around--ever. I like that! Drastoria for the win! Basically, you've written this last scene with the specific purpose of showing how adorable they are, and now I want to go read more Drastoria fics. Thanks. :P But in the end, Astoria helped Draco become better than he was at the beginning of this whole mess, and they are such an awesome couple. You couldn't have written a better ending for them. :)

Great job, all around! Only one more chapter left for me to read, and it's the epilogue! I am incredibly interested to read about the scene from Draco's point of view--I'm sure it will be very enlightening. :D

~UnluckyStar57

Author's Response: Only one more to go? Doesn’t seem at all possible! Actually, I guess if I think about it, it is possible. You were one of the earliest reviewers for this story and definitely one of the most loyal. You have my undying gratitude!

I really enjoyed unleashing both the idea of Mulciber and that little plot twist on the world. I wanted things to seem about as bad as they could possibly get before heading into the big finale. It seems like the sense of confusion and mayhem I was trying to create from Astoria’s PoV worked well, too. All around, I’m pleased with how things seemed to play out for you.

Part of me feels badly about how unkind I’ve been to Ron in this story. I definitely owe him a good one-shot or something. I don’t have anything against him, but you recall his prior confrontation with Draco. I also needed some way to introduce Harry’s role in the capture of Avery and the other conspirators. And, no, you can’t ever trust Draco’s PoV where Ron is concerned.

Harry’s masquerade actually ties directly into a small subplot of Conspiracy of Blood. I enjoyed coming up with that one. To answer your question, the Aurors learned about Gamp’s conspiracy when they were trying to track down Avery. They’d been communicating with Avery in the guise of Mulciber for some time. When Avery told “Mulciber” about a counter-revolution brewing among recent Hogwarts grads, Harry and Ron put two and two together. They went after Zabini first because they saw him as a soft target who would likely sell out the others to save his own skin. Zabini’s mother was tipped off by a former flame inside the Ministry, however, and she slipped her son out of the country. Instead of seeing it as a setback, the Aurors decided to take advantage of the situation by impersonating Zabini and using him to infiltrate the conspiracy.

Gamp will be going to prison for the rest of his life. Essentially, that amounts to a divorce. Daphne doesn’t completely abandon him because pureblood ladies don’t do that sort of thing, but she doesn’t have to stay with him, either.

The scene with Draco and Mr. Greengrass was challenging to write, but I really enjoyed it. It was fun to try to think through all of the little intricacies of how a couple of aristocratic purebloods would interact. I don’t think there is any canon on the topic, so I borrowed a few bits from here and there and I made up the rest. You’re correct, even putting aside the fact that it advances his relationship with Astoria, this is a tremendous step up, career-wise.

Draco and Astoria have great things ahead of them. I was definitely tempted to instantly have them jumping each other like a pair of hyenas in heat, but this felt a lot more natural. You know, I haven’t found any other Draco/Astoria fics with this sort of dynamic. Then again, I haven’t looked too hard.

Gah, one more chapter! I’m excited and a little sad. I see you just posted in your review thread, so let’s go request. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #6, by Veritaserum27 Clarity

14th August 2014:
Hi Dan,

I'm here (finally) to review this next chapter. And it was a fantastic chapter, at that!

I love the way that you've brought us right into Draco's emotions. Not just in this chapter, but since the first sentence of the first chapter, where everything was blurry and confusing and he was drunk in the bar. This is the antithesis. Everything is finally clear for Draco. You've beautifully paralleled his clarity through your description of the scene in front of him. He is focused on keeping Astoria safe and he clearly has his goal in mind. With that, he clearly sees all the details of the outside of the manor house. Brilliant.

Maybe this gets answered in the next chapter, but did Flint die? I know that Sectumsempra causes intense, severe bleeding and I didn't think anyone could live for very long without the countercurse. Hmmm...

Another battle scene. Oooo! This one is just as good if not better than the last one. There were more people in the room and more comings and goings so that could have come off as confusing. But yet again, your skill at balancing description with action was spot on. I did read this one through several times, but that was for sheer enjoyment because it was so well done, and not because I was trying to pick up details that I'd missed.

In addition to the great description, there is another layer that you add to your dueling scenes. While a good author will make sure the scene is well thought out with action and reactions from both parts, you also include the mental element that comes from within the character. I'm not just talking about what the character is thinking at the time - that is easy. As a tennis player (okay, its been a while...), a large part of the game is how your opponent views your skill. Even if you are not as good as they are, if they think you can beat them, you can win the match. This is done subtly, by positioning yourself at certain points on the court in relation to them and by small acts of body language. You are the first author I've read that has translated this into a duel. Its no small feat, but it adds so much realism and depth to the story. Like tennis, it is subtle but an enormous part of an actual duel. If Draco had given off an air of fear, Avery would've sensed it immediately and gone in for the kill, without hesitation.

And of course the love story continues to play out between them. I love you. He just has to say it because they are both in mortal peril and if he doesn't do it now, it might be too late and those words in that moment just added so, so much depth to the scene. Aaahh. Good job with the feels on that one.

I did catch two small typos:

With a disinterested flick of his wand, Gamp send Daphne flying across the room into the wall.

I think you meant 'sent' not 'send.'

And here:

Astoria's breath caught in her through when she remembered the moment he'd cast the Cruciatus Curse on her.

Did you mean to say 'Astoria's breath caught in her throat...?' I wasn't sure.

But, wow. This was great. Superb.

Thanks for writing this!

Beth

Author's Response: Yay, typos have been stamped out! Thank you for catching them.

I'd love to claim that the parallels between Draco's perception of the world around him and his mental state were intentional, but that wouldn't really be the truth. It's better to be lucky than good sometimes. I'm really glad that everything meshed for you. To me, setting is a huge part of good storytelling.

Flint survives his injuries. Draco didn't intend to kill him, only to completely incapacitate him. He lives to make an appearance as one of the villains in Conspiracy of Blood.

Wow, I think you might be the only person who's ever re-read these scenes for enjoyment! I think that action and description have to go hand in hand. Otherwise, you get a big, confusing blur in the reader's mind. Sometimes that's appropriate, like in a melee. But here, we have a very intense, one-on-one fight that's the sole focus of Draco's attention.

Draco learned to fight from his Aunt Bellatrix. Crazy as she might have been, she was a vicious, cunning fighter and she was masterful at playing on her opponents' mental and emotional weaknesses. I completely agree with your observation on the need to make your opponent *think* that you can beat them. Draco and Avery both might have known that Draco was no match for the older, more seasoned wizard, but Draco wasn't about to show that and it created enough hesitation in Avery's mind that it nearly carried the day. Nearly...

Draco knew that it might be his last chance to tell Astoria how he really felt and he wasn't going to miss it. I think there's also a small message in there about the limits of the Imperius Curse when it comes up against love.

I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it! Only two more to go! :)


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Review #7, by Veritaserum27 A Break with the Past

30th July 2014:
Hello, hello!

I knew it. I knew you wouldn't let Narcissa's beautiful plan play out. Very nice with the plot twists, here. I seriously did not see how they were going to get out of this one. Draco is smooth and Narcissa always maintains a cool head, but there are only two of them and all of a sudden all these other bad dudes show up. Thank goodness Lucius is at least within enough of his mind to know to fight and which way to point his wand, even if he thinks he is in the Department of Mysteries.

I loved the term "flintlock" - brilliant. Your descriptions of Nott's injuries and the battle that ensues were fantastic. I usually find that I have to go back and re-read battle scenes to make sure I know who was hexing who(m?), or if someone had fallen to the side, or what injury had been sustained, but this scene was evenly paced and easy to follow. Definitely not lacking in action, however.

And I think the most important point of this chapter is perhaps the most subtle (and brilliantly done, by the way). Draco has finally learned to control his anger. It has plagued him since the very beginning, and he has had small moments of control (mostly that involved Astoria), but here he has every reason to lose it, but he doesn't. His family is under threat in their own home, he has lost Astoria (or so he thinks), he job is requiring him to relive his worst memories, and he just learned of his father's illness. Yup. Old Draco's life is in turmoil to say the least. BUT, he manages to keep it together, and assess the rather dangerous situation in front of him.

You did mention to me that Narcissa steals your scenes, and that is completely alright with me. She is awesome. And she did it again!!! Holy fireball, batman! It seems that some ancient Black relative found a way to contain and control fiendfyre? Maybe that wasn't your intent, but the descriptions were similar to me!

My two favorite parts were the humorous bits you added in:

"Hi, there, Malfoy, Mrs. Malfoy. How are you?"

Ahh, Goyle, the clueless prat until the very end, huh? You almost can't fault him for his actions because he just doesn't have the ability to know any better.

"He left that thing to you?"

Narcissa lifted her eyebrows noncommittally in response.

"He couldn't very well leave it to your Aunt Bellatrix. She would have burned down the entire island."

Oh, can you imagine that object in the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange? I quiver at the thought.

Daphne is so clueless and self-absorbed I almost don't feel sorry for her at having married a power-hungry murderer. I keep trying to find one redeeming quality in her, maybe because she's Astoria's sister, but I think the only thing that I can come up with is that she is too focused on her own poor lot that she can't be evil.

Ugh! Another cliffhanger, Dan? I suppose that's appropriate given that we're heading toward the climax of this story. You've done a fantastic job with the sense of urgency here. I'm holding my breath throughout the entire chapter with the hopes of letting it out at the end - and then bam I MUST read on because it just got worse for all of them!

Until next chapter,

Beth

Author's Response: Hi, Beth! Apologies that I wasn't able to answer this sooner. Let's dig right in!

It's not often that I allow my characters brilliantly-conceived plans to work out the way that they're supposed to. Where's the fun in that? Characters are most interesting when they have to adapt on the fly.

It took me ages to come up with "repeating flintlock". I went to the forums for help and everything. Still not 100% thrilled with it, but it works. I'm really glad that you found the fight scene easy to follow. I always try to visualize everything in my head and make sure that I'm getting the relative positions of the combatants right in the words. That said, I'm never quite sure whether it translates properly.

Draco's war-tempered survival instincts kick in when the curses start to fly. In a way, I almost felt like he was *more* comfortable in that sort of confrontation than the verbal type. Here, he can channel and focus his anger and turn it into something productive. Not easy to do when he's doing the dance of civility with Madam Blishwick.

You nailed it with your interpretation of Narcissa's locket. In my mind, one of her talented but dark ancestors perfected a way to contain and control FiendFyre and applied those enchantments to the locket.

Poor Goyle. The guy is eternally one step behind the rest of the world.

Not even Bella's own elders could imagine that locket in her hands. Hence, it was handed down to Narcissa.

Daphne is mostly in this scene for comic relief, although she does play a small role in what's coming. I haven't been kind to her at all in this story, but at least she fares better than Flint and Nott.

Yes, another cliffhanger. I'm just terrible, aren't I? But that's how I keep people coming back. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #8, by Roisin Epilogue

28th July 2014:
OH MY GOD THIS WAS ALL JUST AN ELABORATE PREQUEL TO "DELICATE"!

This epilogue was brilliant. I love that Draco still has his prejudices; hatred, oppression, ethnic violence--these wounds sometimes take generations to heal. You did a brilliant job setting it up, though, where Scorpius could turn out tolerant.

The way you managed to fill in the gaps between the potter books and their epilogue was amazing. You really brought a lot of life to Ron's remaining resentments, Harry and Draco's tepid mutual respect.

AND SETTING UP A SCORPIUS/ROSE SHIP AS A SLYTHERIN MANEUV. AH!

Also, I really like Draco's speech about Scorpius' sorting--mostly, because it was a bit lacking. I really commend your crafting this love story where we care so much about the characters, yet they remain imperfect. Astoria never gives us reason to believe she ever took issue with her father's sense of blood superiority, nor moved beyond petty power plays over tiaras. Draco remains narrow minded, manipulative, and all of the rest. But they love eachother, and they love their son, and they aren't hurting anyone, so we can love them too. That's quite a tough tightrope to walk, and you managed it flawlessly.

This was a jewel of a story.

Author's Response: Ha! Shhh! Nobody tell padfoot4ever that I wrote a prequel to his/her story. ;)

I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it. I knew from a very early point in writing this story that I wanted to do this epilogue, but I've always felt a bit unsure about how it really relates to the rest. Scorpius has a lot of his father's family, but he has his mother's heart. That, I think, turns out to be the difference.

I was probably ninety percent of the way done writing the epilogue when the idea hit me to have Draco "set the stage" for Scorpius pursuing Rose as a way to torment Ron. The beauty of it, at least to me, is that not even Draco believes it's going to work. It was a very Slytherin move, but it backfires on him in the end.

It's so strange you should say that about Draco's speech. I had a much more profound version in an early draft and I changed it. It didn't sound right at all coming from him. I think this version captures the essence of Draco trying hard to say and do the right things in spite of the fact that he was raised to believe the exact opposite. Making that speech was a very unnatural act for him.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of the wonderful, encouraging and insightful reviews on Detox. You have no idea how much they mean to me.

-Dan


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Review #9, by Roisin Clarity

28th July 2014:
ohmygodjustdisarmhim!

It was always the flaw of Death Eaters that they cared too much about style. If Voldy hadn't insisted on using Harry's blood for resurrection, he'd have saved himself a world of hurt.

Also, the reintroduction of the "artifact" was great. I'm really impressed you were able to keep plot threads going while writing the story in a serialized way. It's really well paced, and seems meticulously planned. Sometimes, stories tend to meander, lose their footing, and then stumble towards a conclusion. Here, you have a really tight narrative going.

Alsoalso, and this has happened several times so far, I really like how Draco is always bringing up the things he learned as a Death Eater. It was such a formative time in his youth to spend so horribly, and you do a really good job of transmitting the gravitas of such an experience.

I'm sure I have loads more to say, but I'm tryna find out who the hooded/masked arrival is!

Author's Response: Death Eaters do have a tendency to go for the coup de grace instead of sticking to simple things that work. No doubt about that.

There were a few plot threads that I planned to run all the way through, like the "mystery" Death Eater that Gamp had allied himself with. Then there were others where I just got lucky. I have to admit that Draco's phony "artifact" fell into the latter category. It seemed like a convenient lie for him to tell Zabini at the time I invented it and it took on a life of its own from there.

I don't know about you, but I find that lessons tend to stick with me a whole lot better when they're matters of life and death. Most of what Draco learned during the war, he had to learn in order to survive.

Only one more review to respond to. I'm feeling accomplished, but also kind of sad. It's been a fun journey. Thanks for reviewing and on to the final one...


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Review #10, by Roisin A Break with the Past

28th July 2014:
Ah! All through the fight scene I was internally screaming "BLAST THE DARK MAGIC, JUST DISARM THEM!" I was so pleased when Draco took a page out of Potter's book. Seriously, people tease Harry for using expelliarmus all the time, but it WORKS. He beat Voldemort so many times. GAH. Rant Over.

"...he would have been tempted to bury his face in his palm"--this was a very unexpected moment of comedy, and very very funny. I was impressed you were able to weave that in during so much action.

Also, it's a bit telling, isn't it? "Oh bummer, dad thinks he's back in the Dept of Mysteries on a nefarious quest." Draco has been taught to take so much wickedness for granted.

Narcissa is consistently impressively characterized. Where Lucius is defined by hubris, she is defined by self/family preservation. Every decision we ever saw her make during the books was motivated by that, and you do a wonderful job of continuing that tradition here.

Also, I was glad you brought in FiendFyre. There are very few issues I take with Rowling's masterful story-telling, one of the only ones being that FiendFyre was introduced hastily, and only the once. Seeing it again, further fleshed out, is very welcome.

This bit was subtle, but Bellatrix would have burned down "the island." It actually makes sense--Britain has a whole mess of little islands all over its coast. I dunno if you got that from canon or made it up, but those little islands really would be the perfect place for big wizarding stately homes.

So the suspense it killing me, so I'll leave this review here!

Author's Response: There is an amazing simplicity to the disarming charm, isn't there? You take away the other party's ability to cause you harm.

I think fight scenes always benefit from a little dry humor unless the intensity absolutely forbids it. It helps to break up the aggression a bit and let the reader mentally relax for a second.

I love writing Narcissa. I think I might have mentioned it in an earlier review response, but she has a huge tendency to steal scenes in my stories. I think family is of paramount importance to her, but not in the "my family is eternally superior to yours" manner of Lucius or worse still, Bellatrix. She loves her son unconditionally and will go to any lengths to protect him. It's oddly similar to Lily Potter or Molly Weasley, but from a completely different background. There's definitely a statement being made there.

I absolutely loved creating the "Black Family Heirloom". My underlying thought process is that one of Narcissa's talented ancestors figured out how to tame and contain FiendFyre and enchanted the locket to do so. When Narcissa refers to Bellatrix burning down "the island", by the way, she's talking about the *entire UK*, excluding Northern Ireland. Bella isn't known for restraint. ;)

Yay! We're counting down to the final chapter. No, wait, boo! I don't want the enjoyment to stop. Thanks!


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Review #11, by Roisin Climbing Back

28th July 2014:
Such a twisty story!

It's really interesting that Draco just kind of assumes he has loyalties, because he's so used to having them. In reality, outside of Astoria, they shift and turn. The Malfoys have always been primarily after their own interests. In that light, Draco's path to goodness is simple: all he needs is purity of intention.

I'm really glad for something you did here, namely, it isn't just a big JUST TALK ABOUT IT AND TELL THE OTHER HOW YOU FEEL--PROBLEM SOLVED thing. Both characters decided to do right by the other, but then some plot outside of their control stumbles into Draco's foyer. It let the conflict simmer for just long enough, but ultimately took the issue out of "easily remedied" waters.

Also, I hate Madame Blishwick. So. SO much. I am know officially theorizing that she's the big bad, hurrumph.

It's realistic, too, even if she doesn't turn out to be evil. I studied the science in college, and Academia can seem very cruel (I was genuinely bummed to not get an unpaid lab job "fixing" mice--aka, dosing them with ketamine then replacing their blood with plastic--because the research was so interesting. Then I remembered that my immortal soul was at stake, and was glad not to be hired). You gotta compartmentalize, or nothing can ever get done. That said, I still suspect that all surgeons are sadists.

MORE TO THE POINT: I'm really relieved that Lucius isn't the unnamed Death Eater, and man, you wrote his magical-dementia really well. Again, a really unique take on Lucius, and a great way to reel Draco back into family loyalty.

I can't believe I'm almost done with this story!

Author's Response: Correct, you don't need to think badly of poor, old Lucius. At least no more than you already thought badly of him.

Draco does have a few absolute loyalties, his mother for one. He's absolutely loyal to the *ideal* of the Malfoy name if not necessarily to the current leader of the family. And now he's absolutely loyal to Astoria.

Come now, you know me better than that! There was no way I would settle for a boring "talk it out and share your true feelings" ending when I had the chance to have curses and fire and explosions. There are no easy remedies in the magical world.

Your read on Madam Blishwick is spot on. She's a tone-deaf academic who lacks any appreciation of the social context of her work. She truly believes that there's redeeming social value in understanding the precise bio-magical (is that even a term?) mechanisms through while Unforgivable Curses harm people.

You're so close to the end! But this is where the roller coaster truly begins. Thanks for all of the awesome reviews!


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Review #12, by Roisin Errors in Judgment

28th July 2014:
Ah, such a comedy of manners! Ah, the conservativism! I want to slap them both!

They really are SO star crossed. Never would have imagined that for this pairing!

It's pretty impressive how the unfolding of the romance is so not to my taste--the whole WE MUST MARRY thing--yet I'm really rooting for them anyway (and I've read the epilogue, so my worry is rather silly). You did a really good job weaving gushy romance together with intimate awkwardness and absurd polite-society elements. Each bit tempered the other, and the result was a really unique scene.

"I have to hurt her to save her" and "things wouldn't suck so much if he could tell the truth" are very familiar ideas, but the context and specificity of the dialogue here means I never rolled my eyes. Draco explained himself as well as anyone could have hoped, and the rapid POV shifts did a lot to justify the events.

Astoria storming in her room, and severing her dress, was especially well done. Really captured the teenage girl "the sky is falling because a boy!" thing without satirizing it.

And the little bit about Draco still holding on to the idea of Lucius rescinding invitations to Malfoy manor, before rejecting it, was a super nice touch. I like how the perspective he's had all his life isn't so easily shrugged off.

I want to say more, but I also want to get to the next chapter!

Author's Response: I wanted to slap them both on many occasional while writing this. They're cute, but they can be horribly frustrating at times.

They're star-crossed, but like most star-crossed couples, there's a big element of self-inflicted misery involved. If Astoria and Draco could simply be honest with one another about their deepest anxieties, a lot of their problems go away. It doesn't happen because he's too busy trying to keep her pure and untouched by the horrors of war while she's too busy trying to be the older, more experienced lover that she thinks Draco wants. It would be comical if you didn't like them.

"Rooting for them in spite of who they are" kind of defines the experience of writing this story, so it's good to see that it comes across to a reader, as well. Draco and Astoria are the embodiment of everything that JKR taught us to dislike or at least mistrust for the first six books: privilege, wealth, old blood lines and conceit. To me, gushy romance, intimate awkwardness and absurd polite-society elements were a big part of the key to selling this chapter. It had to be very nitty-gritty and in the reader's face, otherwise it all starts to sound rather absurd.

I'm glad you liked the rapid PoV shifts. A couple of readers found them confusing or disorienting. This was the one chapter where I really wanted the reader to know, in quasi-real time, what each character was thinking as their evening swirled down the proverbial toilet.

I think "the sky is falling because a boy!" thing satirizes itself. It doesn't really need my help. In this case, I just wanted to show Astoria at her lowest point so that we can commence rebuilding a stronger, smarter version of her in the next chapter.

Very well, on to the next review, then. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #13, by Roisin Future Imperfect

28th July 2014:
I have to admit, I feel like the girl talk went on for a bit longer than necessary. But I might feel that way just because it was so euphemistic. In my experience, girl-talk rivals or exceeds locker-room boy talk in terms of vulgarity. But, I'm also of a very different social strata than these girls, and from a considerably more progressive and liberal community. Also, I doubt it would be appropriate to go full vulgar anyway for the story, and would hardly recommend changing it.

Draco and Madame Blishwick was brilliant, and painful, and wonderful. There was something really cinematic about his running to puke. I almost couldn't stand how amoral she was--how lightly she took his experiences and actions, how brazenly she spoke about his value. And his reaction was so on point. You truly have portrayed the boy who cried to moaning Myrtle about his feelings while plotting to assassinate Dumbledore.

Too often, writers around here want to make Draco this really alluring badboy, which reduces the harm he caused, underplays his nastier flaws, and incorrectly characterizes his fragility.

What I'm trying to say, is I know what story I'm gonna be nominating for some Dobby's.

Author's Response: Yeah, I'm a little too fond of my Archives account to go full-on vulgar. And I don't imagine Astoria and Isadore would behave that way, either. Isadore might if she was in different company, but Astoria is too "high society". Also more than a little sheltered and naive.

It didn't take long for Draco's career to take a dramatic turn for the worse, did it? Madam Blishwick isn't evil at all, she's just too much of a pure academic to be able to comprehend the discomfort her research causes people who've lived the nightmare that Draco's been through. I'm glad you liked his reaction.

Wow. I'm not quite sure what to say to that, other than thanks! I appreciate all the kind words.


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Review #14, by Roisin Turning the Corner

28th July 2014:
"His work would directly benefit victims of the war. Shacklebolt, himself, was apparently championing this project. He didnt know the witch heading it up, but he recognized the name. The Blishwicks were an old, pure blood family."

Such a good example of the things I've so far praised about your characterization of Draco. He'd be helping victims, he'd also be maneuvering socially and rebuilding his name. His desires here are Slytherin, but they aren't evil. His goals are redemptive, but also self serving. Great!

And I like that you already mentioned the Blishwick party. This might be because that comes back later (so aha to me for noticing), but either way, I think it's prudent to keep named characters to a minimum, or pull last names from canon (as you know I'm wont to do). I mean, with about 30 Hogwarts grads per year, even if there are dozens of families that homeschool--magical Britain must be a tiny population.

VERY disappointed Draco doesn't have to continue with Muggle Studies, though. That seemed like a very fair and wise condition for his return to Hogwarts.

And yay, it's nice that Draco is using all the magic he probably learned during the war (disillusionment) to sneak around and snog girls rather than commit genocide.

And the bit with Horatio and Astoria was truly devastating. She's also now starting to see the faults in her father. It's grow up time!

Author's Response: Draco seems to have found the literal "win-win" here. As I'm sure you've already realized, however, life isn't that kind to Draco Malfoy. I agree, though, there's no rule in life that says that a goal can't be both noble and self-serving at the same time.

You're right, there are so few pureblood families in the HP world. Pottermore had a mention of something called "The Sacred Twenty-Eight", of which Blishwick sadly was not one. Greengrass and Malfoy certainly were, however. I suppose Scorpius did in both of those lines. Good on you, Scorpius!

I think McGonagall was trying to be realistic *and* to throw Draco a bone if he was willing to refocus his efforts on Herbology. He's made it completely obvious that he refuses to learn anything in Muggle Studies. Why belabor the obvious?

I find that fan fic authors tend to either grossly minimize the magic Draco would have needed to learn to survive the war or they turn him into some sort of super-dark wizard. Again, I go for balance. And he is undeniably using his powers for "good", at least as he and Astoria would define it. ;)

It's reached the point in the story where I really needed to draw Astoria away from her family in earnest and unfortunately for Horatio, he gets to wear the jerk hat. In his own very traditional way, he wants what he thinks is best for her, but his ideas are behind the times and his approach is very tone-deaf. He's a product of his upbringing.

Both of my little pureblood snowflakes are growing up in a hurry. Much more turbulence to come. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #15, by Roisin Old Habits

28th July 2014:
The regency style, aristocratic, society world continues--and I'm super into it. Post-war reformed Nazi-esque character meets Jane Austen style plot: definitely unlikely bedfellows. Yes, a very unique story you have here.

I really like the introduction of pure-blood conservativism that isn't just racism. Set against, well, *racism.* I was definitely not expecting the plot to play out like this from the sparse story description. I'm really enjoying watching this innocent, juvenile love story progress alongside the rumblings of genocidal rebellion.

And the way Draco calls upon his personal experience is great. How disillusioned he is by Dark Wizardry and ministry takeovers after what he saw. He's seen how these things play out, and they've lost all appeal for him.

Usually, I reject romances that involve someone SAVING someone else with LOVE--but here, it works. Draco definitely needs saving, and the books insisted that he's not beyond it time and again. And 'redemption' is a common theme everywhere, but it feels really fresh in this story, partially because you allow the characters to be imperfect.

Author's Response: I'm overwhelmed and more than a bit humbled by the literary comparisons you're making here. Big smiles all around!

I liked adding more dimensions to the ideas of pureblood supremacy aside from just "everyone who isn't a pureblood sucks". There are centuries of custom and family connections that really bind these people together and give them their (mostly unjustified) sense of superiority. Maybe I do need to go back and work on that story description...

Draco has been down this path once before and he has zero interest in going back. The problem is that this world of pureblood ideologues is the only one he knows. He's not quite brave enough to completely start over, so he's trying to pick and choose the elements he can deal with and avoid the rest. It's definitely not easy.

Draco is not beyond saving although at the moment his mother and Astoria are really the only ones who see it. The rest of the world needs some convincing. If the characters weren't imperfect, I don't think this story works at all. I'm glad we agree on that. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #16, by Roisin Relapse

28th July 2014:
Ah! I was so very, very pleased with Snape's portrait! It was out-of-character for a headmaster's portrait to pipe up like that, going on the Potter books, and that was what was kind of brilliant about it. Snape's portrait probably wouldn't conform to the social traditions of paintings anyway.

Weird sentence, that ^^^.

It was really shocking to see Lucius so broken, and really heartbreaking in a way, knowing how Draco's always hero-worshiped his father. But ultimately, a good thing, to help Draco begin to define himself. Seeing the faults of one's parents is an important part of growing up, and Lucius has only ever been so smooth. Anyway, definitely a fresh idea I'd never imagined, and absolutely reasonable. I'm really enjoying reading once-so-spoiled Draco starting to extricate himself from his toxic upbringing.

In the epilogue, one could get the sense that Draco married a pure-blood Slytherin, and that that isn't surprising at all. I like how, while staying true to canon, you created a situation that actually requires them both to be subversive in their ways. I would never have imagined such a pairing as an illicit love affair, so good on you. (Just from reading story descriptions, I feel like a lot of stories out there attempt similar ends using more trite and easy means.)

This is a really creative plot!

Author's Response: When I was plotting out this chapter, I actually had Dumbledore's portrait addressing Astoria. The more I thought about it, though, that just didn't make any sense. Dumbledore really would have had little insight into Draco and Astoria's situation. Snape, on the other hand, had both insight and interest. And no, Snape wouldn't be likely to conform to any traditions that prevented him from insulting someone when he felt like it.

Lucius isn't well at all by this point. Azkaban and the war nearly broke him, and his condition is forcing Draco to continue growing up quickly. It's funny that you say you'd never imagined Lucius being this way. After Jason Isaacs's masterful portrayal of him in DH I and II, I never really thought of him any other way. I think that from the moment of Voldemort's return, Lucius was far out of his depth. He's too gentile and accustomed to the privileges of his wealth to fare well among a group of sociopathic killers like the Lestranges, Dolohov, Rookwood, Crouch, Jr., etc.

The farther along I got in writing this, the more I liked this idea of them cultivating this very clandestine romance. On Astoria's side, only Isadore knows about it, while Draco only confides in his mother. Mr. Greengrass is definitely opposed to it, and I think Lucius would have taken that opposition as an insult if he'd been aware that any of this was going on. The best thing about it is that it forces them to make the most of every moment they're able to be together. There are no "meaningless" encounters between the two of them.

I'm pleased as can be that you feel that way! Thanks so much!


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Review #17, by Roisin Confessions

28th July 2014:
Your characterization of Draco is really so rich. He exists in such a complicated moral and emotional space. The story about the house being burned down in Hogsmeade--the way he felt about it, feels about it, talks about it, is so different from how I would imagine most people would. But exactly on point for someone who did the things he's done--both good and bad. You've created a tricky character, and found a unique slice of humanity, and examined it in a really compelling way.

I also really like your interpretation of the Slytherin. I think it's too easily reduced. Astoria is, in every way, a 'nice girl.' Which isn't to say she is a stranger to manipulation--but not in a malicious way. Throughout, you show how these characters maneuver in their interactions with others. They measure their words, gauge people's reactions, and so on. It's really masterfully done.

Also, for whatever reason "the shadows cast by Hogwarts castle were starting to stretch long over the Scottish countryside" really stood out to me. There's a lot of language throughout I super like, but this was one of many descriptions I really appreciated.

Author's Response: A tricky character? I definitely take that as a compliment. I wanted to add as much depth and complexity to Draco in this story as I could. He isn't simple or one-dimensional and his story doesn't fit in a neat little box.

Slytherin House also deserved a major re-think, I felt. The way it's presented in most fan fiction is absurd. The traits that Slytherin is known for are not inherently evil, and while Harry and the other Gryffindors might have come away from their encounters with Draco, Crabbe and Goyle with a distinct distaste, I can't imagine the entire house was like that. I wanted Astoria to really show more of the positive aspects of Slytherin while not completely glossing over the negative ones.

I liked that line, myself. Rather proud of it. :)

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #18, by Roisin Making Choices

28th July 2014:
It could have really easily been to dramatic that Draco and Astoria were attacked with a killing curse, but I totally believed the situation.

I love how I want to side with Draco, main character of this as he is, yet you pit him against the trio. It's kind of poignant, really. They were all just kids, turned into warriors. I really like how the post-war means all sorts of psychological and physical chaos. I can hardly blame Ron or Hermione, but I feel inclined to sympathize with Draco as well. You write the distance between what happens in his head and what comes out of his slap-able face really well. His shaky moral foundation is tremendous, and his constant fear of attack is pitiful.

Also, the Harry/Ginny vignette was a really nice touch. Really believable and just the right amount of information.

And, another general comment: I really like the transitions between Draco's world-weary, alcohol dependent, shell shocked POV, and Astoria's naive, school-girl one.

Author's Response: Hello, again!

Draco will be plagued by some of the situations he dealt with during the war and the trio who attacked him are the result of one of those situations. More on that in the next chapter.

I struggled a lot with the tone of Draco's confrontation with Ron. It's hard for Ron not to seem like a jerk because we're seeing the whole scene play out through Draco's eyes. Also, Ron is being kind of a jerk. But you're right, it's hard to blame him or Hermione considering their past with Draco.

I loved being able to include Harry and Ginny for just a moment. Someday I'll write my post-war novel focusing on the two of them, but it's way too big of a project to take on right now. So I satisfy myself with little moments like this and with one-shots.

Aside from the first chapter, I *think* I managed to include both a Draco PoV scene and an Astoria PoV scene in every chapter. Glad you like the transitions!

Thanks so much for all of your awesome reviews!


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Review #19, by Roisin Regrets

28th July 2014:
I really really liked your description of post-war Hogwarts. I've said it before, but your prose is excellent. The lighter colour of the newer stone; all of those little details were great. I'd always been curious about students returning to school after the war, and you do a really nice job of imagining that situation.

Also, McGonnagall! She would absolutely be frosty and severe with Draco, and I absolutely wouldn't blame her. Yet, I feel sympathy for him anyway. Nicely played!

Also, great that Draco thinks about how he could hold his own in Defense, rather than thinking they might be protecting the other students from *him*. I love how he's both traumatized and seen too much, but also kind of innocent at the same time. And you write his trauma and anxiety really effectively.

Luna was perfect! And heartbreaking! And there's something needlessly satisfying about their conversation. Her reasoning, that the school had seen enough fighting, was precisely Luna-wisdom. And I said before about interpretations on Hermione (which I think are too often influenced by the movies)--yours is really well aligned with the books.

Another overall statement on the story (and I regret that these reviews are so stale--I inhaled the first ten chapters): the way you show Draco growing up and maturing--how he is no longer preoccupied with showing off in front of students or messing with other people. It's interesting that, in order to grow up well, he almost has to become more innocent. His experiences with adult situations being, as they were, so twisted and damaging :(

Author's Response: Hi!

Similar to how I don't think most of the characters survived the war without scars, I'm sure that Hogwarts got the crap beaten out of it during the battle. I am reasonably sure that there were people who felt very strongly that Hogwarts shouldn't be reopened after the war. Too many people lost their lives there. So even though the school did reopen, I'm sure the mood was somber and cautious. To me, the way McGonagall treats Draco is a function of that atmosphere. She's presiding over a very fragile and tenuous recovery at the school. With the exception of the First Year (and Second Year, since they weren't allowed to attend school under Voldemort) muggle-born kids, it's safe to assume that every student at Hogwarts knew at least one person who was hurt or killed in the war. The last thing McGonagall wants is somebody who fought on the other side walking around the castle, reminding everyone of what happened.

Draco is still a bit chippy on the topic of Defense. He definitely has a different sort of "misunderstanding" in mind from what Slughorn is describing.

Whew! Luna is right up there with Dumbledore and Voldemort in terms of the most difficult characters to write. When you read a story with Luna, it's like being in love: you can't explain in words what makes Luna sound like Luna, you just know it when you see it.

Trauma will definitely age a person, no doubt about it. I'm not sure I think of Draco as being more innocent, I think he just had the conceit knocked out of him.

All I can say at this point is that you haven't seen twisted and damaging yet. Of course, if you've read ahead, you know that already. ;) Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #20, by Roisin Getting Clean

28th July 2014:
I really like how gently you introduce Astoria's privilege. Since her sections are ostensibly her POV, it makes sense that she takes expensive jumpers and private chambers as average. Also, she isn't portrayed as totally spoiled or anything. As with a lot of aspects of this story, you let the characters have certain elements that isolate readers, while still endearing us to Draco and Astoria anyway.

Also, Horatio's prejudice--I'm really enjoying all these little complications to a story that could have been a straight-forward romance. It's very easy to tokenize prejudiced people, or divide supporting characters neatly between good and bad. You do a great job of setting a story in the ambiguities. Obviously, I'm wont to dislike Horatio, but it makes sense that Astoria loves her father.

Overall, I really enjoy the intricacies of the aristocracy you examine here. It's almost like two stories. Draco's is a darker, war survivor, plots be brewing situation, while Astoria's is almost a comedy of manners.

Getting super off-track because I read ahead, so sorry! But also: I tend to avoid Draco ships, or Draco as a main character, but you do it really well. I really believe his prat moments, and his occasional sweetness breaking through the surface (running away to muggle cafes). You've done a stand-out job of analyzing the interiority of the wannabe Death Eater who didn't rat on Harry to Bellatrix. Generally, I think Draco and Hermione are of the most misrepresented characters in fanfiction (hence my categorical distaste for their pairing). So yeah, ramble ramble ramble, you've done a real good Draco.

On to the next disorganized review!

Author's Response: Moving right along...

I didn't want to overplay the life of privilege that Astoria comes from. It's part of who she is, but unlike Draco it doesn't completely define her. I think of her family as being "the working rich". Her father runs his family's companies and manages their investments.

I'm not sure that Horatio is prejudiced against Draco so much as he just doesn't understand the truth about Voldemort. Horatio wasn't a Death Eater and he stayed out of the conflict completely. He doesn't understand how dangerous and powerful Voldemort truly was. In his mind, Voldemort was a creation of power-hungry families like the Blacks and Malfoys. He thinks that they used their money and influence to create a political movement around a madman.

I hadn't thought of this as being two stories in that sense, but I can definitely see it now that you mention it.

I absolutely agree with you about Draco and Hermione being frequently misrepresented. In fact, it very often happens to both characters in the same story. *cringe* People try to write Draco in a way that's black and white. They write him as either an arch-villain who never gave up his family's ways or as a completely reformed and enlightened survivor of his family's terrible brainwashing. I don't think he's either of those things. There are elements of those characters in him, but he's far more complex.

I don't find your reviews disorganized at all. You're reacting to the things in the story that caught your attention or imagination and really those are my favorite kind of reviews! Thanks!


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Review #21, by Roisin Sobering Up

28th July 2014:
Tag!

I've been wanting to read one of your novels for a while, and I chose this one for being the most recent. I'm actually several chapters in now, so this review isn't crazy fresh.

Moving on: I really really really like this story. The opening was especially compelling, as it felt properly *adult* in a way a lot of other stories don't. Having lived through the war, I like that Draco shows signs of this kind of adulthood, tempered with inevitable immaturity. And opening a story with Draco stumbling blind drunk out of a pub in the afternoon is perfect--that's exactly where I would reasonably expect him to be after everything.

I felt real sympathy for Draco throughout, but it was really nicely set against his more unlikable/Malfoyish qualities. Since I've read ahead, I'll just say you did a great job so far keeping Malfoy and Astoria flawed/dimensional.

Also, there's some stunning moments of prose here. The language in the descriptions is rather a joy to read.

All in all--you kick butt at post-war stories. Draco's PTSD is really great, and neither under nor overplayed. Also, you capture the tension and mild chaos of society in really realistic and subtle ways.

Bravo!

Author's Response: Before I start to respond to all of your reviews, I feel like I should put on Lakeside's "Fantastic Voyage". Or maybe the Coolio version. No matter the musical accompaniment, it's going to be fantastic.

I really can't abide post-war stories that make the world seem like everything turned to rainbows and kittens the minute Voldemort hit the flagstones of the Great Hall. It was a war. People were tortured, maimed and killed. The damage inflicted on the magical world was nearly catastrophic. It's silly to imagine that someone who survived the things that Draco lived through wouldn't have been emotionally and physically scarred. So he tries to bury all of those awful memories the way that most adults who can't find the strength to face their demons do: he gets drunk.

I remember feeling pretty agnostic about whether I wanted people to feel sorry for Draco or not while reading this. My goal was to paint the most realistic picture of him that I could and then let the reader decide how to feel. Sounds like I did an alright job.

Thanks for all of your kind words. It means quite a bit more to get that praise from a talented author like yourself. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #22, by Veritaserum27 Climbing Back

18th July 2014:
Helo Dan!

Yikes - this chapter was a doozie! I can't even get over all of the events that occurred in such a short span of time. I'm dizzy from all of this action - but it seems to be just the beginning.

What a fabulous portrayal of a broken heart. Poor, poor Astoria, reduced to physical pain and basically a sickened stupor. She really feels that she has lost it all. There is hope, however. Her mother may be an ally in all of this - she seems to be able to manipulate Horatio when the need dictates. It reminds me of a line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding "The man is the head of the household, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants to." We also see a little bit of this playing out between Narcissa and Lucius - but I'll get to them later.

The little comment about Emery Montague and his - er... situation made me laugh out loud. I love the way you slip in little bits of humor for the reader - even in a dramatic chapter like this one.

Draco's emotions during the scene at the Ministry were also beautifully described. He abhors dark curses after living through their effects. I also think Draco abhors part of himself because he once was seduced by the power that accompanied following dark wizards. Standing from the other side, it physically and emotionally sickens him. He might think of this as weakness, but I feel this will become one of his greatest strengths. I don't know if you did this intentionally, but Madame Blishwick reminds me a LOT of Delores Umbridge. Both were fools to think that the ends justify the means and both were blinded by their desire to achieve power and fame. In both women, nothing else mattered but success in their set goals.

The scene with Lucius and Narcissa was powerful, revealing and all around awesome. So the truth comes out that Lucius is not well, mentally. This horrid fact forces Draco to grow up in a matter of minutes. He goes from being (somewhat of a) petulant child (more like a brooding young adult) to the realization that your parents are mortal. Right in the middle of his tirade about how Lucius put the Malfoy family in a tricky spot in terms of moving on in society, Draco is suddenly faced with the fact that his father may not be around for much longer. Lucius suddenly appears very weak. It is a difficult thing to accept that our parents are mortal - because it forces us to face our own mortality. Great job with the emotions playing out here.

But I've saved my favorite part for the last. Narcissa is brilliant. She is clever, ambitious, self-preserving, dutiful, proper, proud, loving, cautious and clear minded. And Awesome. Let's not forget awesome. I've never been a fan of hers, mostly because she found herself on the wrong side of the war, but you've really brought her to light in this scene and she was a joy to read. She was able to assess the situation quickly and cleverly come up with a plan that would keep her family safe and help he son to get what he wants. I also really loved her interaction with Lucius. She never made her husband feel like he was deranged or weak, but she was able to talk to him in a kind manner and still help Draco at the same time. I LOVE the plan that they came up with - it is perfect. However, I feel like you aren't exactly going to let us see that one through, are you Dan?

And - of course you dropped a bomb on us at the end. How is Draco going to get out of this mess now? Ugh! I think it is safe to say to expect some more reviews fairly quickly - I don't know if I'll be able to wait to read the last few chapters!

Author's Response: Hi, Beth!

All of the chapters from here to the end are pretty busy. The ball is rolling downhill, top speed, toward the end of the story. This is what I've been building up to, so I hope you enjoy it!

I hope the scene with Astoria wallowing in her misery in her bedroom is, in some ways, similar to the way we see Draco at the start of the story. She's hit rock bottom on this unrealistic fantasy she's been living for the past few months. Now it's time for her to decide whether to throw in the towel or pick up the pieces and rebuild around more realistic goals and desires. I think you nailed it on the relationship between Astoria's parents. Priscilla Greengrass manages her husband artfully. He mostly doesn't even realize he's being managed, which is really the gold standard for effective management.

Ah, Emery. Sometimes I think it's good to create a character who really serves no purpose other than to be the butt of jokes.

Draco finally snaps under the pressure when Madam Blishwick really pushes him. It's been building for a long time. I never thought of her as being similar to dear old Dolores, but I guess I can see some similarities. The big difference, though, is that while Umbridge is all about appearances and fake courtesies, Madam Blishwick is 100% sincere in every respect. She sees no issues with the ends or the means, because she intends to meticulously study both.

I'm glad you liked the "big reveal" on Lucius's condition. Lots of small things in this story tie into Conspiracy of Blood, and Lucius's declining health is one of those threads. (He passed away well before the start of that story, leaving Draco with some unresolved baggage.) It is a major moment in the maturity process when you finally accept that your parents aren't going to live forever. It changes Draco's outlook on a lot of things and forces him to take another look at the future that he'd imagined with Astoria. It also added more urgency to his desire to reconcile with her. Lastly, if Lucius isn't the Death Eater Gamp's been conspiring with, who is it?

I think I mentioned this in my response to an earlier review: Narcissa has a tendency to steal scenes in my stories. She is pretty awesome to me. In the books, I thought there were very interesting parallels between her and Molly Weasley. Both were managers of their respective families, in a sense. Both of them were willing to do anything necessary to protect their children. Two oddly similar visions of how a mother is supposed to behave, given the vastly different worlds they come from.

Nope, the end of this story won't be anywhere near that simple. There's a lot of drama and action left. I hope you enjoy it and I'm really looking forward to seeing your reactions! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #23, by nott theodore Regrets

12th July 2014:
Hi again, Dan!

This was another great chapter here! I don't think it's really slow at all - at least, I didn't find it slow as I read it. Draco's return to Hogwarts is a pretty important event in this story and it was really interesting to read about it.

I think your characterisation of Draco is really brilliant. Obviously you've spent a lot of time on him with writing this story but I think that he's a very believable character from the one that we've seen in the books.

I really liked the way that here, Draco had to confront people face on - when he was in Diagon Alley he knew that people around him were looking at him and blaming him but he didn't know who they were, and didn't have to deal with them directly; that's what makes it much harder here for him to deal with. I liked the way that you wrote their reactions to Draco, though!

I am glad that there was some hope for Draco and Astoria at the end of this chapter, though - I really like the two of them as a pairing so that was great to see!

Sian :)
Gryffindor House Cup 2014 Review

Author's Response: Hi, there!

This one was a bit slow in the sense that it was heavy on narrative and light on action, at least until the end. Still, I'm glad you didn't think that it dragged.

Whew! I always wonder how people are going to see Draco's character. Glad you thought it was believable.

Now that Draco is trying to reengage, the world is suddenly very much up in his face. It isn't pleasant for him, but I think it's necessary if he's going to find the motivation to continue down this path.

If you like the two of them as a pairing, I think you'll enjoy the rest of the story. They certainly have ups and downs along the way, but it's a canon story so you know they get there in the end.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #24, by nott theodore Getting Clean

12th July 2014:
Hi Dan! I figured that since I'm reviewing anyway it was about time for me to come back to this story and leave a few more reviews!

This was another great chapter! I really liked the way that you progressed from the first chapter to this one and showed that things are starting to change a little bit for Draco. The description at the beginning was fantastic and it helped me picture things really vividly, but I think that my favourite part of the chapter was the dream that Draco has which is a flashback to the war. It's really important to show that it's not only the winners who suffered like that from the war.

I liked the fact we saw parts of both Astoria and Draco at this point as well. It's nice to see both perspectives and I liked the fact that Draco's really starting to make an effort here to change his lifestyle and control his anger. I think it's a very important beginning, especially if he's going to end up with Astoria!

Sian :)
Gryffindor House Cup 2014 Review

Author's Response: Hi, Sian!

Draco has taken the most important step, but there's obviously still a long way to go. Otherwise, this wouldn't be a very long story. ;) I'm glad you liked the nightmare. It was tricky to write because I wanted a very spartan feel to things but I also needed enough detail to make it easy to visualize. And you're right about the war, many of the Dark Lord's followers suffered just as much as the victors.

In general, you'll see things from both Draco's and Astoria's perspective in each chapter from now on. I like alternating the narrative point of view, just to give the reader a more rounded impression.

Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #25, by Veritaserum27 Errors in Judgment

30th June 2014:
Hi Dan!

Wow. There was a lot to this one. I think it may take me while to get through it all and do it justice.

Before I continue - I must say "bravo." I mean, really, really excellent writing. This was fantastic with the way you capture both Draco and Astoria's current states. For the past several chapters, you've been building to this - and it paid off in spades. They both have been falling for each other throughout the entire story, but they haven't been on the same page. Draco saw Astoria almost as an unreachable ideal. She was perfection and everything that he could never have. He dared to dream that she could possibly be attainable and he might just be happy again if he has her.

On the flip side, Astoria views Draco as her "way out" of being under the rule of her parents. She doesn't want the same life her parents were destined for - or her sister for that matter. As a side note, I actually feel sorry for Daphne. Although she is a bridezilla and completely inconsiderate of others, I don't know if her transgressions are severe enough to warrant a lifetime of Jeremy Gamp. (You know I haven't read "Harry Potter and the Conspiracy of Blood" yet, so I don't know if she actually ends up with Gamp as a life-partner, OR if she becomes a character worthy of that sentence.)

Both of them need a bit of adjustment to their current view of each other - and their relationship. I really like how you've portrayed Astoria as a typical teenager in the past few chapters. She is threatened by Pansy - someone who is insignificant in Draco's eyes, but you've beautifully captured the true angst of a teenage girl. It is much more realistic and it brings another layer to the story.

I have to comment on the last scene. She was still playing the petulant child - angry with her parents for not breaking down the door to comfort her during her sister's wedding - of all things. But in the end, Astoria finally decided to grow up a little bit. Realizing that incinerating all of Draco's letters would mean that she was giving up on the one thing that she truly holds dear is a big step for her.

"Slothenly." I love it. That is a great word!

I cannot go any further without expressing the heebie jeebies that I felt during the entire scene with Astoria and Draco/Emery. I know that she was able to overcome the fact that he didn't look like her true love, but I couldn't. I don't know if that was your intent, but... Ewww.

Again, this was a wonderfully crafted, fantastic chapter. You left the reader in suspense and I even teared up a few times along the way.

I'm sorry this sound so formal, but I wanted to get everything down and I didn't want it to be a rambling review. I hope you realize how much I really liked this!

~Beth

Author's Response: Hi, Beth! Huge apologies are in order. The House Cup reviewing event has left me looking extremely unappreciative for reviews on my own stories, which I certainly am not!

This was definitely one of the "busiest" chapters in the entire story. I did give some thought to splitting it -- you can probably figure out where -- but that would have left me with two chapters that were substantially shorter than their neighbors. Also, it sort of reeked of "cliffhanger for cliffhanger's sake". All in all, I figured it was better to just keep the beast together.

I'm thrilled that you liked the buildup/payoff involved in this chapter. Draco has been keeping Astoria on a pedestal and Astoria has been hinging far too much of her perceived future happiness on a fairytale ending with Draco. Both of them pay a high price for their childish oversimplifications in this chapter.

I don't think **anyone** deserves a lifetime of Jeremy Gamp except perhaps Jeremy Gamp. That said, Daphne was only too happy to ignore the warning signs as long as her relationship with Jeremy advanced her own life goals. Jeremy also cleans up fairly well. He's an old-money pureblood, after all. As to what their future holds... well, you'll see pretty soon.

Draco and Astoria are also suffering from a problem that plagues most couples their age. They've gotten good at communicating their hopes and dreams and happiness to one another, but they have no idea how to share their anxieties and fears and dislikes. Actually, I guess Astoria isn't **so** bad at sharing her dislikes, but only the mundane ones. If she'd broached the topic of Pansy with Draco -- and if she'd believed his denial, which I guess would also be an issue -- she would have known where he stood on that topic.

Astoria does grow up a bit at the end of this chapter, doesn't she? You'll be pleased, then, to discover that she keeps growing into the next chapter.

I agree on the point of Astoria trying to be physical with Draco/Emery. I'm sure it was beyond weird. Part of what I was trying to convey was Astoria's desperation. She's willing to shove her discomfort aside because she wants this to work so badly.

Aww, don't worry about the way you wrote this. I loved it! Thanks so much for all of your kind words!


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