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Review #1, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap Relapse

21st March 2015:
He needed to convince them that he had been an unwilling participant. That he had been acting under the threat of death for both himself and his family. And he couldnít do that unless he was willing to talk about it.

See, this is where I think she is naÔve. He canít do that. Too many people know his story. Plus, he said himself at one point in his childhood he wanted to be a Death Eater. He was adamant and vocal about following the Dark Lord. He also had the very important task of murdering Albus Dumbledore. Even though he didnít do it thatís still an important part to his story. The entire thing is and he canít go back on that. It wasnít until he was given the task that his Ďworldí started to crumble. His disposition. When he failed thatís when he really started to fear for his life.

Sometimes we tell lies when we donít even need to, just to keep people guessing.Ē

Isnít that the truth.

This new philosophy of governance thatís become fashionable at the Ministry is a mixed bag if you ask me. I donít see a need to go changing the law every time a muggle-born or a house elf feels put out about something.

Good heavens. He honestly reminds me of so many people I have met in my life that love to debate politics but have no clue what theyíre talking about. They just like to hear themselves speak.

You stated that Draco is not evil and you are absolutely correct

Go Severus. Not being able to talk is clearly going to backfire on Astoria and Draco. I think if Draco can change her fatherís mind or at least give him some peace of mind theyíre doomed.

ďDraco, did you understand what I said? No longer will we be be forced to endure the petty torments of blood traitors and mudbloods. Our family will be powerful and respected once again.Ē

Ay caramba. And the delusional award goes to Lucius Malfoy.

He uncorked the bottle and stared at it for a long moment, trying to find the strength to say no.

Hm. It was bound to happen I just didnít think it would so quickly. Then again realistically he is an addict and hasnít truly made enough progess that he wouldnít fall back into drinking. I just hope it doesnít hurt the little progess he has made. Itís hard because I want to root for Draco but I know realistically he has to tear himself a part and make mistakes along the way and I want to see those mistakes.

At first I found it hard to believe Lucius was still going after this grand scheme I will call it but then I thought about it and it makes sense. I mean just because the war ended the way it did and the Malfoy's sort of cut ties with their side doesn't mean Lucius wouldn't still believe in blood purity and all those other things. Especially because it is still in the air and the defeat was recent. I could logically see him wanting to try and make a name for himself and fight for something. He's slightly mad. But then I see him older as things change and Draco changes him changing too. At least that's what I wish for. What can I say, I always hope for the best in some of the worse characters.

Three chapters in one day! Woo-hoo!

Author's Response: Hello, again! All of these great reviews! This made my weekend.

Astoria is definitely struggling with an overly romanticized view of Draco. It isn't that he couldn't become the person she wants to believe he is, it's just that he still has a pretty long way to go.

Ah, teenage girls and their careful management of the truth. It's a wonder that any of us survive to adulthood.

I tried hard to craft Mr. Greengrass's dialogue in this chapter so that it didn't say too much or too little. What I hoped that readers would see is a sort of selfish pragmatism. He doesn't hate muggle-borns like the Blacks or see them as a lower life form the way that the Malfoys might. He just doesn't understand why they need to be so disruptive in their quest for equal rights. It's all very inconvenient to him.

When I first drafted this, I had Dumbledore's portrait do the talking. It never sounded quite right. Then I thought of Snape and it fell into place. Draco is trying hard to change Astoria's father's mind, but it's a long and arduous process.

Lucius seems to return to form in this chapter, but things aren't always what they seem. Keep an eye on him. He does still believe in things like blood purity and "the old way".

As far as Draco goes, what happened at the end of this chapter wasn't completely unexpected. Most addicts have setbacks along the way. The question is what he makes of it going forward.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! All of the love you show my stories is appreciated so much!


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Review #2, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap Confessions

21st March 2015:
Subconsciously, she needs to fix you. Just trust me, alright?

And subconsciously, Astoria needs to fix him. It really is a girl thing because for some reason it is in our DNA and we are convinced that we can change and fix men. In reality we cannot (even though we still try to believe it). They can only change if they want to change. You can tell thatís how she feels when you read their conversations, the back and forth, the sort of mothering she does and scolding. But then she perks up when he apologizes as if maybe just maybe he isnít entirely all that bad and he knows heís wrong and itíll be okay because sheís there.

No. My aunt gave me a book to read and told me that if I splinched myself it was my own fault for not trying hard enough.

Sounds like Bellatrix. Thatís actually really funny.

I came here to think about leaving. The war, Britain, my family... I was thinking of leaving it all behind. I couldnít stand it any longer. Every day, I woke up wondering whether it would finally happen.

I believe this immensely. For one, his father pretended he was under the Crucio spell during the first war. Iím sure he thought about leaving and fleeing once Voldemort fell, which is why he lied. Then the second war they jetted off in the end. So, Draco wanting to leave and thinking about it sounds perfectly reasonable. Of course he wouldnít have left. Too much shame. He would have been called a coward or followed and killed. Probably by Bellatrix. Most likely by Bellatrix.

A Malfoy doesnít run from danger.

HA! And again, yet he lied about following Voldemort the first time around. Hello, thatís running from danger.

Thatís running-- from Azkaban.

The conversation between Draco and Astoria proved interesting. You can really see heís starting to change, slowly of course, by opening up to her. Heís worried about what she might think but a part of him needs to talk to someone and relive these moments in order to find clarity. Another part needs her to know what happened because if she were to be afraid or reject him it would have to happen now. Later on would crush him. They need to build an understanding, a foundation at the beginning.

McGonagall was magnificently written in this chapter. I have to say I disliked her in the beginning of the story because she was so harsh. I understand why. We spoke about this but still. So seeing her accept Astoria and Hermioneís stories and to acknowledge that maybe Draco has changed or can change and he needs to be given a chance that says something about her character. Sheís hard but sheís not unrealistic.

Woo-hoo! How exciting. I got to read two chapters today. One before work and one right after work. Hopefully it wonít be long before I read the next. Excellent work my friend!

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds!

If I live to be Dumbledore's age, I might have a chance of understanding this *thing* that girls have with "bad boys" and trying to fix them. And you're right, there's no such thing as fixing another person unless they're determined to fix themselves. Fortunately for Astoria, that's the decision that Draco has made. And he will definitely need her help.

I have a fair bit of fun at Bella's expense in this story. Since she's dead, it's a low-risk endeavor.

I'm sure he spent a lot of time thinking about leaving. But he wouldn't have done that to Narcissa and Narcissa wouldn't have left Lucius. It's all a big mess. I agree that Bellatrix would have been sent to hunt him down. Actually, I'm sure she would have volunteered.

Lucius is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" kind of people.

I'm glad you got the point of Draco and Astoria's first "big" conversation. She needs to understand him so she knows what she's getting herself into. He needs someone that he can talk to. All in all, it worked out alright.

Whew! I always worry when I write McGonagall. It's tough to get her right.

You're doing awesome! Thanks so much!


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Review #3, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap Making Choices

21st March 2015:
Dan! Hello there good sir, Iím finally back. Man with the review competition and the quick validation time it has taken me a century (yeah, Iím exaggerating) to come back to Detox. Where did I leave off? Hm, oh right! Here it is.

Instead of rushing to recover from their humiliating position, they simply laid there, snogging as though nobody could see them. Even though her motherís cries of mortification echoed through her mind, Astoria had to admit that she was a tiny bit jealous.

I knew right away why Ginny was rushing and there was a part of me that figured Astoria would be jealous. It would never be appropriate for her to act like that, you know, care free, at least in a public setting. Thatís kind of sad but I canít imagine Molly scolding Ginny for public displays of affection. Then again the Weasleyís are a warm loving family that goes against the status quo.

At the same time, she wasnít sure where this relationship was heading -- or whether they even had a relationship, for that matter -- so she didnít want to greet him too eagerly.

As a female I can relate to this immensely. The not knowing kills us. Is it or is it not a relationship? Is it or is it not a date? What makes it a date? If he looks at me a certain way, is it a date? Holy, Iím glad Iím not single but then again being in an actual relationship is just as hard.

The furious anger that had burned inside of him was extinguished in an instant, replaced by a hollow feeling somewhere between shock and horror. It dawned on him that he had probably just thrown it all away -- everything he had done to try to reclaim his life destroyed in a single burst of rage.

Iím already past this point in the story but everything has escalated so quickly. What drama. I disliked Ron so much in this chapter but I think thatís more because Iím rooting for Draco to change and make his life better.

When he called Hermione a Mudblood my heart dropped. It was just painful to see him revert back to an old insult, one that he didnít want to throw out but I think itísÖfamiliar to him. Especially considering Ron was attacking him for past things as well.

Kill Ďem both!Ē

Good heavens. This is what I mean by it escalated quickly. He turns a corner and bam, another fight. Others trying to hurt him. I mean you canít really blame them but Draco has just no luck. Or friends and Astoria is right he does need friends.

Bless her for trying to stick up for him and fight. I think she was smart enough to stay back to give him some space but then her reflexes kicked in and she wanted toÖI want to say save him but that mind sound a little extreme. I think sheís a little naÔve. Getting involved with Draco Malfoy, even if itís not romantically, is going to be a constant battle. She has to protect herself now too because of his past if she wants to be part of his present. It didnít surprise me that Draco said he didnít know her and was trying to protect her. Draco is many things and has many problems but he would never let it go if she got hurt because of him.

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds! I'm glad to see you back!

Seeing Ginny and Harry snogging with reckless abandon puts Astoria in an uncomfortable place mentally. She's caught between the propriety of her upbringing and the desire I think most young ladies feel at that age to be hopelessly swept away by true love's calling.

I spent a fair bit of time consulting with my Two X Chromosome Posse on a lot of the little aspects of Astoria's thought processes in this story. I'm glad to see it comes through here and there. As much as anything, this is a coming of age story for both Astoria and Draco. It isn't going to be an easy process for either of them and they're both struggling through that age where it starts to dawn on young people that maybe -- just maybe -- they don't have it all figured out.

Draco does a lot of "three steps forward and two steps back" in this story. He does change, but I didn't want him to change too quickly or too drastically. He is the end product of a lifetime of social and emotional conditioning that ran headfirst into a harsh dose of reality called Voldemort. That's gonna leave a lad a bit messed up in the head.

There's actually a reason why the old witch and the two wizards wanted to kill Draco. You'll find out in the next chapter, but suffice it to say that nobody was completely free of guilt in that confrontation. As far as jumping headlong into the fight, Astoria is more than just a little naive. She's led such a sheltered life that she can't even get her head around the idea of being in mortal danger... yet.

I'm glad you're enjoying the show. Til next time!


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Review #4, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap Regrets

4th March 2015:
Large holes in the North Tower and the Astronomy Tower were still being repaired, leaving the insides exposed to the elements. It was all too real, too fresh, too familiar.

Reading this part made it feel like someone took a knife to my chest. I never thought of the rebuilding period and what the castle would look like afterwards. Sure it would be remodeled to the same degree but there are always little cracks and differences that would be noticed by those who experienced the great battle. I donít know why this is bothering me just now or came into my head but I wonder how Neville felt the first time he stepped back into the school and started to teach. I know this story has nothing to do with him but it just popped in my head. I think I would feel uneasy. Hogwarts is a safe place and the biggest threat is gone but there are so many memories.

The battle was raging all around. His mad aunt cackled somewhere nearby while she hurled curses at an unseen opponent. The din of the fighting was deafening.

See I think the former students and those who were in the battle would have similar experiences going back the first time, during say the anniversary or just visiting the school. That sudden rush of fear and then the weight of this is what happened here, this person I knew died right here or I used this horrible spell on another to save my life and those around me.

I believe that when I read Draco relieving the moments as he walks to the school. I would believe it for the trio and all the other important characters in Harry Potter.

ďThat will be acceptable. See that Iím not kept waiting. The forecast is for snow on Monday morning!Ē

Wow. I didnít think McGonagall would react that way. I kind of think itís rather harsh but Iím not sure if itís entirely out of her character. I think she has always been rather forgiving but McGonagall does have an edge to her. I figured she would accept him not with open arms and yes with some regulations but to treat him like heís not a student entirely isÖdifferent.

The very notion of spending two hours each week listening to some self-important half-wit drone on about the filthy muggles and their rubbish made him itch. And he had no concerns about his ability to hold his own in Defense lessons. Even without the dark spells he learned during the war, he felt sure that he was more than a match for the other students.

And thatís essentially the problem, isnít it? He can hold his own. He still has too much pride and cockiness inside of him. He wants to change but he hasnít. Draco is still Draco and thatís what theyíre worried about.

He hasnít grown. Heís a boy whoís going back to school because he saw a cute girl that suddenly made the sun shine a little brighter and he wants to change himself to be better for her. So when he said he was living for himself it wasnít entirely true. Once he does reach that point and the sentence becomes true is when we know Draco has grown up and changed and has become a better person.

Draco pondered what sort of donation could be made to put things right.

And he still wants to use his money (power) to get his way.

What a surprise interaction between Draco and Luna and a twist. Wow. I didnít expect that at all.

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds! Sorry to be pokey about responding. I've been trying to do some writing again -- yay, me! -- and HPFF time has been in short supply.

I doubt that anyone who survived the battle ever felt exactly the same about Hogwarts again. Time would have healed wounds and softened the memories, but that sense of complete safety that they enjoyed under Dumbledore's tenure was gone forever.

Part of the reason that I think McGonagall is so harsh with Draco here is exactly what you're pointing out. She would have been overseeing a very slow and fragile recovery at Hogwarts. All of the students who fought in the battle would have had terrible memories. Even the ones who didn't fight in the battle would remember being terrorized by the Carrows. Into this difficult and tenuous situation, we introduce Draco: a living, breathing reminder of everything that the students -- and faculty -- are struggling to move past.

You're right, Draco is still Draco. He might have changed his opinions about some things, like whether it's worth fighting a war over blood supremacy, but he does still believe in magical superiority. And he believes very strongly in himself because he clearly remembers the trials and horrors he survived. So I have to disagree with you a bit. He has grown, but it's definitely a work in progress. He has a long way to go.

I enjoyed getting to slip a bit of Luna into this very Slytherin-focused story. It's a fun challenge to figure out her perspective because you know it's going to be very different from everyone else's. In this case, she wrong-foots Draco almost as badly as she does you. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #5, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap Getting Clean

4th March 2015:
Hello Dan! Iím back again. Iíve been sick or else I would have flown through this story already.

The young woman was clothed in bloody rags that hung in shreds, interwoven with the streaks of red that ran through her long, flaxen hair. The horror of her death was frozen on her face.

That was creepy. It really creeped me out I shuddered and had to stop momentarily because I wasnít sure if I could continue. Naturally I had to read it over again because I wanted to face my fear over the sentence. Who know one sentence could shake you to your core?

Every glassy eye a reminder of his final solution to every problem.

I feel like Draco would have never felt truly comfortable in Malfoy Manor again. Too many bad memories and nightmares. I imagine he would no longer visit certain parts of his home for this reason. Itís big enough where Voldemortís presence wouldnít haunt him in every room but there must have been some cleansing or decorative changes done to try and forget about him. It would have been futile though. The Manor is kind of like his own prison.

His mother pulled her hand away, looking deeply worried as Draco gasped for air.

See I didnít get that he was dreaming. I thought he was hallucinating from undergoing detox but it works either way.

ĎLook at me, the Great Lucius Malfoy! My power knows no limits! I can pluck a raving madman off of his street corner and make him ruler of the magical world!í

Wow. I donít know what to say. I believe Draco and his family would be hated after the war. Heck, they were hated during the war but itís an interesting take. I like that heís not just angry at just the Malfoyís. I also like that heís not just angry about the second war but the first one as well. Heck, his daughters are in Slytherin. Iím sure he has some darkness in him as well and has money but maybe power isnít as important to the Greengrassís.

The only person Iím living for now is myself.

In the first chapter he was in a hazy fog of denial but then he found this Ďlightí if you will and decided to change. Now he appears stronger and his mind is clear but is he really strong? No. I donít buy it. He wants to change but wanting to do something and actually doing it are two different things. I canít exactly decide if Draco is an addict or not. I donít mean just alcohol either but is he addicted to pain? I donít know how to explain that question but it keeps popping up in my head.

Blaise was an interesting character. Heís essentially in the same boat as Draco except now that Draco realizes this he wants nothing to do with it, with whatever Blaise and he had planned and the rest of their motley crew. I believe Draco is lost and the only person that can find him is himself. Only then can he start to live a life he truly wants and deserves.

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds! Hope you're feeling better!

Draco's nightmare was an important part of the stage I was trying to set. He's haunted by the things he witnesses and took part in, even if he doesn't feel like they were ultimately his fault. He didn't believe in the Dark Lord the way that his father once believed and his aunt believed until her death. He was terrified of Voldemort, terrified that his mother or father or he would be the next to die. At the end of the day, he's relieved that Harry Potter killed his so-called master.

Parts of the manor definitely still haunt Draco. It's like your scene where he hated going into the cellar. I can't imagine he willingly went down there for a long time after the war was over.

Dreaming and detoxing aren't mutually exclusive, I guess. A lot of alcoholics go through periods of depression and mental instability when they're getting clean.

One of the things I liked about Astoria's father -- and it drove some readers up the wall -- was the fact that he had a different perspective on Voldemort's rise and fall. Being a wealthy, successful pureblood who wasn't caught up in the Death Eaters, he never felt *directly* threatened by Voldemort and the movement he represented. Based on his limited knowledge of Voldemort, he looked at the Dark Lord as a sort of crazy demagogue advocating an extreme solution to a problem that didn't really need to be solved. Purebloods already controlled a disproportionate share of the wealth and power in the wizarding world. From his point of view, the *best case* outcome of Voldemort's wars would be causing a lot of chaos en route to an end state not all that different from what he already enjoyed. And chaos is bad for business.

He isn't nearly as strong as he's leading Zabini to believe. Not yet, anyway. There are still a lot of hurdles he needs to overcome. If that wasn't the case, this would be a pretty short story. ;) Blaise serves to illustrate a different path from what Draco's choosing, a continuation of the status quo. You'll definitely see him again.

So glad you're making your way through! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #6, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap Sobering Up

21st February 2015:
The colors blended together into a drab kaleidoscope of confusion and nausea. He felt himself slide off of his stool and he struggled to locate a door. The door to the toilets would be ideal.

What are you doing to me? Barely a paragraph in and I can tell you I shamefully know this feeling. A door. More like the corner of the dance floor club or the hallway leading to the door of a bathroom.

Draco marveled at the proprietorís cleverness as the first spray of vomit erupted from his mouth and splattered all over the bare, uneven wooden floor.

Uh. Why Dan, why. Iím glad I ate before reading this.

Listen to both of his parents drone on about doing something with his life while he choked down a cold, tasteless breakfast. Have a shouting match with his father on the way to the door about who was the bigger embarrassment to the family.

Wow, weíre going in that direction, eh? Interesting. Very interesting. We do know Draco struggled with the change in the Wizarding World after the war. Everything he knew wasÖwell, wrong. I want to say a lie but that doesnít sit right with me. I am convinced his relationship with his parents would have been strained once the war was over. He was pushed to do become an adult and join the Dark Lord and yes, thatís what he thought was right, but come on he had guidance from Lucius and Narcissa. Though they love him theyíre not going to sit by and watch their son be a useless heap.

But he needs time.

He could feel the soft warmth of her skin, and found that he missed it as soon as she let go. She summoned his wand from the gutter and handed it back to him.

I love the interaction and the initial meeting. I donít know I feel like the moment he feels that warmth it gives him hope and me as well. As if he can move on. Be someone. Do something. Be a productive member to society.

And Iím also jealous of your writing. I wish I could write so smoothly and man your descriptions are just always on point. You write a drunk really well, tell me, from personal experience orÖIím just messing with you. Weíve all had those nights.

That's why I have to change. I can't go through life alone or surrounded by people who tolerate me in spite of who I am. I don't want to live that way.

That letter was marvelous. Really, see I knew Astoria would bring him hope before he even thought it. Ah, Dan I may or may not be in your head. Maybe weíre on the same wavelength. Who knows.

I never considered the prejudice he would experience after the war. I guess I always jump to the positive. He and Astoria together, Scorpius on the way. Some struggles because life isnít easy but I donít consider right after the war. The broken man he would be. Yes, I considered it in Painful Bliss but I jumped right to the marriage part after the prologue.

Astoria is wonderful. I think sheís cheeky, smart, funny and someone I need to know more about. Sheís also very blunt asking Draco what happened to him as if thatís okay in an everyday conversation.

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds!

In broad terms, reviewers have fallen into one of two groups so far:

Group 1 - Gee, whiz, sounds like Draco had a little too much to drink there.

Group 2 - I read that paragraph and I nearly hurled. Why did you have to take me back to rock bottom? You inhuman monster! Why???

Yes, we're going in that direction. :D After the war, I imagine Draco had to come to terms with a lot of things. An awful lot of what his parents taught him to value and believe in turned out to be wrong. Their money and their family name and their blood purity didn't matter to Voldemort at all when push came to shove. They were just three more expendable servants. At the end of the day, they owed their lives to people that Draco had been taught to completely devalue. I'm definitely not saying that changed everything about him. One thing I tried hard to do was to preserve a lot of Draco's flaws in this story. He's still prejudiced and arrogant and snotty and materialistic. I think he was just less of those things after the war as well as being very disenchanted (no pun intended) with his father's bluster and nonsense.

One thing I'll caution you about is that the version of Astoria you see in this chapter is completely from Draco's point of view. He's drunk and miserable and depressed and in that moment she becomes sort of a vision of perfection to him, a symbol of this happy life that he wants but he doesn't know how to get there. He sees her with a very soft focus. You'll have to take my word for it at this point, but she is a real character with flaws and weaknesses. You'll see them later on.

I was pretty pleased with how the letter turned out. He knows that he has a long way to go, but he's taken an important first step.

By the end of the story, Draco and Astoria will be within spitting distance of where they are in your prologue, albeit a little the worse for wear. I'm not really all that nice to them in this story. They have some moments, but overall it's a rough ride.

Thank you for all of the compliments and thank you for stopping by! I look forward to seeing what you think of the rest!


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Review #7, by Crumple-Horned Snorkack Sobering Up

10th January 2015:
The Crumple-Horned Snorkack, mythical creature, does exist, but only when no one is looking. And so I have crept from my elusive hideout to review this story.

Poor Draco. That sounds like the worst day ever - what a dreadful situation he's in. I know it's only three months after the war and all these terrible things happening, but I felt badly for him being kicked out and having glass thrown at him. If it would help, I would recommend all my favourite kinds of mythical trees to eat in order to make him feel better, or my best suggestion: go into hiding in a thick forest. That's what I do.

The exchange with the money makes me wonder if Astoria is kind of poor but good at hiding it. I also liked the line when Draco asks about his change but it's more out of habit than anything, it's something Lucius does that Draco doesn't particularly like. That alone says a lot about him. Habits are hard to break. I know this because it's a habit of mine to let the Lovegoods glimpse me when they go searching for Snorkacks, but then I never stick around for them to be able to prove it.

The last section of this was just wonderful, how Draco really wants to change, not just because he met a girl but because he wants to be a better person whom people can respect. I love that he goes to Narcissa for help. (And I was a little amused that he wrote it out in a letter, but it did seem in character for him. Only Malfoy...)

This was truly a wonderful start to your story and I love it. And now I must return to my hidden habitat of mysticism, for I am late for tea with Bigfoot.

Author's Response: I don't know, seems like you exist to me. How else are you operating the keyboard?

In this chapter, we see Draco fairly near rock-bottom. He's depressed and miserable. He doesn't have friends any more, only drinking buddies. Society spits in his general direction and he only stayed out of prison by virtue of his mother's bravery and his father's gold. That said, every story has to start somewhere and this seemed like a good way to set the stage for what's coming.

I never thought of it that way, but Astoria is not poor. She's shrewd. Her father has taught her the value of a Galleon.

Draco is very disillusioned with everything he learned from his father at this point in his life. So much of it turned out to be either overdone or outright baloney. You'll see some very tense reactions between the two of them as the story goes on. Habits are hard to break. I'm not sure whether you're being kind or cruel to the Lovegoods. Maybe both...

There's nobody else in the world he would go to for help aside from his mother. There's nobody else who would probably even try to help him. As far as writing the letter, I think that made things more concrete for Draco. It's easier to change your mind while speaking to somebody who's skeptical of your commitment.

I'm really pleased you enjoyed it! Say hi to Nessie for me.


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Review #8, by mymischiefmanaged Confessions

5th January 2015:
Hi Dan, back again :)

I really loved this chapter. I think it might have been my favourite so far. Although there's not a lot of action, you've given some really fascinating character development and a wonderful (and horrifying) insight into Draco's life.

I enjoyed the opening. Draco's thanking Astoria is sweet and shows that he's already started to change from the person he used to be. And the fact that Astoria doesn't expect it shows that this development has happened to some extent during the short time they've known each other. I read this as evidence of the fact that he's not had many other people show him genuine care. The fact that Astoria wants to help him and genuinely cares about him has made a big impact, even if his feelings towards her aren't romantic yet. It's a lovely bit of dialogue between the two.

And then the comment about Bellatrix is horrible but I'm so glad you included it. The idea of her behaving so atrociously about something as minor as an apparition license reflects her insanity and also says something about the pointlessness of the whole war. So much of it was just about individuals with power complexes, not about any kind of ideology. It was a good thing to include, and I especially liked Astoria's response to it. It's just the right balance of recognising the severity of the situation and remaining lighthearted.

The whole tearoom conversation is, I think, a bit of a turning point for Draco and Astoria. He's really opening up to her without her needing to put pressure on him to do so, which shows the respect he holds for her. It seems like that conversation was necessary for both of them, for different reasons. Draco obviously needed to find somebody to talk to about this stuff. He's traumatised but has nobody to turn to because of the way his name is viewed by the rest of society. It's good that Astoria's there to listen. And then Astoria is trying to make sense of her feelings towards Draco, and I think needed to see that side of him to make their relationship more honest. She's able to care for all of him, even the bits he's not proud of. This was a really mature, emotionally driven discussion, and you've written it brilliantly.

Finally, I adored McGonagall in this chapter. You've shown the side of her that makes her a fantastic teacher. She's willing to listen and reevaluate her choices based on other people's opinions. I think the McGonagall we've seen before in this novel wouldn't have wanted to offer Draco even this small acknowledgement (of recognising that he may not be terrible), and it's lovely that she lets a teenager's comments affect her. I love McGonagall in JK's books and you've done a really great job keeping her in character.

Brilliant chapter! I'm constantly in awe of your writing.

Emma x

Author's Response: Hi, Emma!

This was one of my favorite chapters to write. There was something immensely satisfying about having the cocky, arrogant Draco Malfoy let his walls down for someone.

I think you hit on a key point about Draco's gratitude and Astoria's reaction. Aside from his mother, I don't think Draco has felt that very many people genuinely care for him. It's not that I don't think Lucius cares, but Lucius is all about appearances and propriety and I'm not sure whether Draco would have been able to separate any genuine concern from Lucius's ever-present need to maintain the Malfoy Facade.

An awful lot of the horrible things Draco experienced during the war come back to Auntie Bella. Even though she's dead, her name pops up quite frequently in this story. Draco was supposed to respect her and follow her lead. She was family to him, as well as being his superior in Voldemort's hierarchy. In spite of that, I'm fairly sure he hated her. She's a very touchy subject for him, one that will haunt him from time to time in this story.

The conversation over tea is a big turning point for the two of them. Astoria has been trying to put a puzzle together in her mind, to reconcile her perception of Draco with the horrible things that he took part in during the war. Quite a few pieces fell into place for her during this conversation. It's still a work in progress, but she does learn that she wants to continue learning more about him.

McGonagall was a character that I tried to balance out over the course of the story. Early on, she's very hostile toward Draco. Here, she's become more agnostic. You'll see her point of view continue to evolve later in the story. First and foremost, she's an educator. So I think she realizes that young people change over time and if Draco is willing to work hard and prove himself, she's willing to give him a chance.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this. Thanks for the swap!


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Review #9, by Pixileanin Clarity

3rd January 2015:
Happy New Year, Dan! Resolution #1: continue reviewing this story. Onwards!

Just because all is quiet on the outside, doesnít mean itís the same on the inside. Good observation skills, Draco. And itís a good way to build Dracoís tension. Heís not about to let his guard down now.

ďShe might have been mad, but she was seldom wrong when it came to hurting people.Ē

Argh. So cold and calculated, but I canít fault Draco for his actions here. Heís lived around dangerous people for a long time, and I think that finally, his experiences are going to be what keeps him alive in this situation. Although, if youíve been climbing into Bellatrixís head and having tea, you might require a little detox session of your own one dayÖ worried, Dan. As a concerned friend...

Remembering your comments, I think you made the right decision to keep Draco focused on Astoria in chapter 13, because it flows on to here, where he has made her his single-minded goal. If you had showed him any other way before, his purpose-driven actions may have seemed a bit out of place. After the setup from the previous section, his thoughts and actions here are more than justified. Itís the whole reason why heís driven, so it works really well.

Ahh, Avery is a surprise! I love the descriptions, ďdangerously unstableĒ and ďvolatile brutish natureĒ. I almost cheered when he blasted Gamp across the room, except that with this kind of guy, you canít take anything he says or does for kindness.

ďHeíd be expecting Draco to deny that the object existed and, since it actually did not exist, Draco couldnít see a better alternative.Ē

I think this best describes exactly how dangerous this game is. Telling more lies isnít going to help, and will probably hurt much worse if heís found out.

Youíve made Avery out to truly be insane. I can only imagine what everyone else is thinking while he goes about making things personal with Draco. And the way you portray him, I donít even think that dueling to the death is personal, itís just something that he does, maybe even something that he enjoys doing. I almost thought he was being a little too perceptive when he caught Draco and Astoria exchanging glances, but then again, if heís made a life out of hurting people, heíd be looking for an advantage like that to use against his opponent. And heís been smart enough to stay alive all this time too, so bad on me for underestimating his comprehension.

One of the things that I have a difficult time with in fight scenes is all the names of all those spells? In the heat of battle, I canít imagine having to double-think through my next move, AND remember what everything is called. It all seems so complicated in my head. I would be a very bad Auror indeed. I love how you described the furniture volleys across the room, and the actions, and resulting reactions, and the blasting. Blasting. Iíd think of that. Beyond the explosions, Iíd have been completely lost.

Oh no! Not Imperio! That man is insane! How long are the rest of them going to stand around andÖ

Okay. Never mind. And who is this new person whoís just arrived??

I would be remiss if I didn't comment on how brilliantly you were able to include Draco's emotions into the action. His anger management has been a constant theme throughout this story. You've shown how he draws strength from his fury when it gets out of control. Here, and in a few scenes preceding this, you've given him that strength, coupled with a focus, which brings him that much closer to control. He's fighting with a singular focus, and all is not lost as long as he has a hope of defending Astoria.

And poor Astoria, waking out of her daze to see her love standing over her with a kni... wand. I really like how you show Draco breaking through the Imperio curse as Avery becomes more and more distracted, and that we get to see it through Astoria's perception. She doesn't understand everything that's happening around her, but the imminent danger that she's in is not lost on her. And she's very aware of Draco's struggle to break free. It seems that they're both of the same mind here. If they could just sneak out the back when no one is looking and run like the wind...

Author's Response: Hi, pix! Happy New Year! I'm flattered that I figured into your resolutions.

Draco is pretty world-weary by this point in his life. One could argue he's also wiser than he used to be, although the wisest course of action probably wasn't charging into the Greengrass home by himself. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that he learned from his Aunt Bellatrix? I guess if it keeps him alive, it can't be all bad. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I enjoy getting inside Bella's twisted head? This is left as an exercise for the reader. ;)

I'm glad you felt the continuity between Draco's thoughts and actions in the last chapter and this chapter. I really needed him to be believable here or the scenes just don't work.

As I'm sure you realize, an awful lot of how I envision Avery is based off of the way he appears in Until We Close Our Eyes. He's beyond just being fanatical. He's genuinely mentally ill. In some ways, he's higher-functioning than Bellatrix, in other ways he's even more dangerous. Dueling to the death isn't just something he does, he genuinely enjoys it. He enjoys all of the power games that come with life-or-death struggles and he's good at them.

Who is the new arrival? You will soon find out. ;)

There's nothing inherently wrong with being angry, it's all in how you manage it. I'm glad that you could see that progress in Draco. The way he marshals his temper here is a big difference compared to chapter 4, when he loses it and gets cursed by Hermione for his trouble.

Part of me does wish that I could just let them sneak out somehow and let Mr. Greengrass and Daphne deal with Gamp and Avery. They all deserve one another. But that wouldn't make a very good story. I hope you like the big finale in the next chapter.

Thanks so much!


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Review #10, by mymischiefmanaged Making Choices

2nd January 2015:
Hi Dan! Here for our swap. I know this story has a lot of reviews already so I hope it's okay I chose to review this one, I'm just enjoying it so much I was hesitant to go for something else instead.

The glimpse of Harry and Ginny at the beginning was lovely, and I like how you used it to highlight the differences between their upbringing and Astoria's. Her jealousy and recognition that it would seem improper for her to behave in that way gives an interesting contrast to what we usually see of wizarding society through Harry's eyes, and it was a clever way to show a bit of Harry's life without detracting from Draco and Astoria's story.

Ron comes across very badly. I was going to review saying that it almost seems out of character, but then I thought back to some of the things Malfoy's said about Ron in the past and it makes sense that he'd respond in this way. I'm glad Hermione came to his defence, though. It fits in with her general character, trying to look at things pragmatically rather than letting her emotions make her act rashly. It's very good canon writing of your characters. I'm impressed.

And then Malfoy blows it by calling her a mudblood. Aghh I was so disappointed in him but I'm glad you did it. It keeps him in character, and I think even the war wouldn't change a person that quickly. He has a lifetime of ingrained prejudice to overcome.

I like Astoria coming to Malfoy's defence even though she doesn't have the magical ability to really help. We're seeing her coming to terms with what's going on, and making her own decisions about who to trust, and I think this scene demonstrates that brilliantly. She's got a strong sense of right and wrong. And you keep them realistic. When it comes to it, neither of them are powerful enough to fight back properly, which makes sense because they are still just teenagers, but Malfoy's apparating Astoria away shows that he's starting to care which is sweet.

Lovely lovely chapter, Dan. Thanks for the swap!

Emma xx

Author's Response: Hi, Emma! I kind of enjoy watching a reader make their way through a longer story, so please feel free to keep going with this one if we're able to swap again.

I loved being able to work that small Harry/Ginny moment into the story. It does give Astoria something to think about. Just because the proper purebloods don't publicly show passion doesn't mean that they don't want to feel it privately.

Ron does come off like a jerk in this chapter. I don't think it was really avoidable because we're seeing him through Draco's eyes. There's so much history between those two that any confrontation is bound to end badly, especially now that Ron is full of newfound confidence. Hermione tries her best to deescalate the situation, but Draco's emotions are too far gone by that point. He makes a poor choice, immediately regrets it, then regrets it a whole lot more when Hermione blasts him off of his feet. I'm glad you felt like that was consistent with his character.

Astoria comes to Draco's defense with all the best of intentions, but she quickly finds herself in over her head. They work very well together, though. And you're right, neither of them was powerful enough to win a duel with the threesome that attacked Draco.

I'm really glad you enjoyed it! Until next time...


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Review #11, by Alex Epilogue

23rd December 2014:
Wow that was really really really good!! The best compliment I can give you is that Draco felt just right. Most fics about Draco after the war either on this site or others are far far away from the original character that J.K Rowling developed. You made it feel right. Normally I don't read Draco Malfoy stories, because the character is mostly just wrong and that unnerves me. Thank you for a realistic Draco story and thank you that you're other stories gave me the trust in you as an author to read this great story.

Author's Response: Hi, there!

That's high praise, and I appreciate it. I tried really hard to keep Draco true to his book characterization in this. He was such a disposable character in the first five books, basically just a punching bag for the Trio who occasionally punched back. Then he started to become interesting in HBP. And the character really rounded out in DH when he wouldn't identify Harry for Bellatrix. As much as I could, I wanted to capture that very conflicted young man who was playing host to a constant battle between what he was raised to believe and what he wanted to become.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #12, by mymischiefmanaged Regrets

20th December 2014:
Hi Dan!

So, I completely forgot that I promised to review your chapters age and ages ago, and got caught up and read the whole thing at once and didn't stop to review. So anyway, I remembered, and here I am. I'll try to slowly catch up :)

This is actually one of my favourite chapters of the whole novel. I love McGonagall's interaction with Malfoy. It's extremely cold, almost so much as to be out of character (but not quite), and shows a side to McGonagall that we don't ever see through Harry's eyes but which is completely believable and compelling. She's efficient and has no patience for people that have hurt others, and her treatment of Malfoy fits in with this. Although reading 'Detox' we can see that Malfoy actually deserves better treatment, I do think the McGonagall we know from canon might behave like this given the circumstances.

And then I just love Isadore. She's a reminder that despite the suffering they've all endured they are still just teenagers, and her friendly chattiness is a real breath of fresh air in the middle of all the angst. I can see how she's the kind of friend Astoria needs, and I like her a lot. She lightens the tone without being silly, and is a wonderful addition to the story.

The behaviour of the other students is sad but also expected, and I loved Luna's defence of Malfoy. It's very in character with what we see of Luna in JK's writing, and shows the sheer love she's able to feel even after all she's been through. Of all of them there, Luna has the most reason to be antagonistic towards Draco specifically, but I love that you kept her calm and moral. Likewise, I'm glad Hermione and Ginny didn't let Malfoy get to them. They're all growing up, and you develop their characters wonderfully.

Finally, Astoria's message gives us a little more insight into who she is. It's a flash of rebellion, I think stoked more than a little by Isadore, and it's just what Malfoy needs after that class. You add in these details and they make it so much clearer how the two of them end up together.

Really fantastic chapter, Dan. And a really fantastic novel. Sorry for not reviewing for so long!

Lots of love,

Emma x

Author's Response: Hi, Emma! And happy holidays!

No worries. I'm really looking forward to your next chapter!

McGonagall's reaction seemed like the only logical one to me. She's less than 1 year removed from a devastating war and less than 2 years removed from the death of her friend and mentor. I'm sure she hasn't forgotten the fact that Draco allowed the Death Eaters into the castle through the Vanishing Cabinet. Beyond all of that, she's overseeing a very fragile recovery at Hogwarts. Having Draco back inside the castle would be an unwelcome reminder for a lot of the other students. Lastly, I'm sure she feels like the Malfoys are trying to use their money to slither back into society just like they did after the first war. The fact that Draco might want something different in life isn't really at the forefront of her mind at this point.

I would have to go back and check, but I think you're the first reviewer who actually likes Isadore. Most people seem to find her rather annoying. She does help to remind us of just how young Astoria is, but you'll see some other sides of her later in the story. In my mind, Isadore is "that friend" that we all have or had who means well but is also chock full of questionable ideas.

You won't see me try to write Luna very often. I find her really intimidating because she's hard to figure out. Even here, I won't claim to fully understand everything that's going on inside her head. I'm really pleased that she sounded right to you, though.

Astoria's message is partly an act of rebellion and partly her way of trying to figure out the puzzle that Draco presents to her. Is he really the awful person her father describes or is he the lost soul she found in Diagon Alley?

I'm really glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #13, by Pixileanin A Break with the Past

16th December 2014:
"What are you doing here, Flint?"

Bleeding all over the panelling and messing up Narcissa's perfectly logical plan to put Draco back on steady feet. That's what he's doing! Nasty, nasty of you. Just when things were going to be so easy... Oh. Never mind. It can't be easy, or it'd be over already.

I love the word you pulled out for the Muggle weapon, "flintlock". It fits so well, and rolls off the tongue so nicely.

Draco's trying to draw information out of the crazy people while Nott's bleeding out, and it could have been funny, except there's a lot at stake here. I can feel Draco's anger simmering in the background. He's got a *plan*, and these people are going to muck it up for him. Again. Grumble grumble. But here, he seems to have a better handle on his anger. Good on you, Draco!

Narcissa is great here. I love the strength and the sheer intimidation factor you give her. She's obviously allowing Draco to make his own way. How she steps in and assists, it's like she's using everything she has to support Draco's decision without wrapping up her ego in the situation. Draco has a lot to learn from her. It's an impressive maneuver.

Oh, man. Goyle is thick. Which makes him hilarious. And dangerous, if he's with Gamp. All the posturing must be exhausting, on both ends. Gamp might be insane, but he's got brains too. what a terrible combination! And oooh! Lucius wakes up from his nap just in time to instill terror on the guests. Perfect!

"There was no way to be sure that the old man even knew what year it was. But Gamp and the others didn't know that."

And well they shouldn't. Your fight scenes always come alive and whirl around the page like a cyclone. All the details get messed around. Even the poor house elf had to run for cover, a tiny detail that I just love! I don't think anyone was paying attention to Lucius' words, there were so many blasts of light flying around the room. And finally, Draco's anger works for him in this instance, when Gamp is stupid enough to threaten his mother.

Uh oh. Lucius just couldn't stop talking, and then someone *heard* him. I guess it was just as well. He was quickly losing steam and wasn't going to be useful in the fight for much longer. From the last chapter, I figured that Lucius wouldn't be around much for the rest of the story, but I'm so glad you allowed him to have a last hurrah of sorts. He used to be so formidable in Draco's eyes, so powerful and uncrossable, and now, being just a shadow of himself, it must be hard. Fighters like to go down fighting. And poor Draco, doing the "my life is flashing before my eyes, but at least Astoria will have a better future"... I know that this story comes before your other story, so I doubt that will happen, but still. You gave him a very, very close call, and if he pulls out of this, he will have much to reflect on.

Okay, so I'm no longer worried about the floor. Narcissa unleashed some powerful stuff from that locket, and just in time. I loved the little aside about how things might have gone wrong if Bellatrix had gotten a hold of that locket. Wise man, this relative of theirs. Whew. If that wasn't edge-of-your-seat writing, I don't know what it was. You did a superb job with the fight scene. I have no idea what you were worried about. :)

Ugh, and Daphne! I am SO glad that Astoria has more than a thimble full of sense and is so much more aware of the world than her older sister. That door chime might have saved her from an uncomfortable moment with her sister, but I'm sure it's no one good.

Another fantastic chapter, Dan!

Author's Response: Nott and his bleeding. So inconsiderate! You're correct, if I wanted this story to be easy, it would have been a one-shot.

I struggled a lot to figure out what an aristocratic pureblood wizard from an old, muggle-hating family would call a gun. I wasn't perfectly happy with it because flintlock and Flint are too much alike, but it's the best I could do.

Draco can't ever stop being himself. He's a Slytherin, he always has a plan (scheme) and he's always tweaking and refining it in real time.

I really loved Narcissa in this chapter. I thought it was her shining moment in the story, except maybe for the conversation she has with Astoria at Gringotts. Draco could always learn more from her.

Goyle was my one small bit of comic relief in a chapter that was stiflingly tense.

I actually had a lot of fun writing Lucius. He's sort of the epitome of the stopped clock that's right twice a day in this chapter. Without really knowing what he's doing, he manages to play a pivotal role in keeping his family alive.

I nearly made some major changes to this chapter because I felt like Draco was getting too noble with his thoughts about Astoria being safe. I think I'm happy with how it ultimately turned out, but I'm also a relentless tinkerer. That means I'm never completely happy no matter what, I guess.

Narcissa's locket was a small thing that actually survived from my very first plot sketch of this story all the way through to the finished product. There aren't many things after chapter 5 that you can say that about. I was completely in love with the idea.

I think Astoria would agree with you that it was *almost* better to confront a group of murderous dark wizards than to listen to Daphne go on about the details of her love life. Not quite, but almost.

Whee, this is fun! Thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews!


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Review #14, by Pixileanin Climbing Back

13th December 2014:
It should probably go without saying that the life of a traditional high society pureblood woman does not appeal to me. Regardless, I am unfathomably happy that not only has Astoria's mother defended her in some way, but that the girl had the opportunity to overhear her do so. I think that made the scene all the more powerful, that, in the middle of her wallowing and misery, we got to hear the conversation between her parents and the effect it had on Astoria. Light. Tunnel. Hopefully not another train.

One of the things I admire about your storytelling is that you tend to follow up and show us the direct, and sometimes indirect consequences of the characters' actions. You've shown us Mr. Greengrass' attitude towards Draco's family. You've given us a clear picture of how even McGonagall had to struggle with her personal opinions of him when he returned to school. And now, because of his unforunate, yet unique and valuable experiences with the inner circle of the Dark Lord, the persistent, academic in Blishwick just pushes him farther than he's prepared to go. She even goes so far as to guilt him into proceeding with the experiment. Draco is trying so hard to put everything from the war behind him, and here, this woman, who probably thinks she's doing the world a great favor, is forcing him to relive his experience so that she can... disect an abused doxy? Wow. It's a good thing Draco has such excellent wand control, or he might have cursed the wrong target in the room. I was terrified that he might actually do it, too.

Ahh, he can't even escape his own family either. Such timing for a talk with his estranged father. They don't seem to want to do it, except that Narcissa wants them to, which in this case, clears up a whole lot for Draco, again, unpleasantly. Lucius' degrading state definitely takes him out of the running for the man responsible for the new uprising. But if not him, then who?? I love how this revelation puts Draco's mind spinning, not just about what his friends have been up to, but also his personal plans for his future. Making him realize that his father, as much as he thought he despised him, might not be around for much longer, and also that Draco would miss the old coot, really puts a heartening twist on his character. He doesn't want to, but he cares. That makes me want to care about what happens to him too. So humanizing, that moment.

I think Narcissa talks more sense than any of Draco's other contemporaries, even if they're all put in a room together to sort it out... which seems like another Bad Idea... but perhaps an entertaining one.

Except that they show up in the wrong house, and Nott has the audacity to bleed all over everything. Oh, Dan! Think of the stains! Actually, it's great timing for the story. Excellently placed cliffhanger to pull us into the next chapter, and it complicates the neat little solution that Narcissa and Draco just planned out.

Author's Response: Hi, pix!

Astoria's mother was a fun character to try to figure out when I was writing this chapter. I didn't want to change what she is -- a very proper pureblood lady with a romantic streak -- so I had to be very careful. She would never overtly tell her husband that he's wrong, instead she finds very subtle, cunning ways to make him rethink his opinions. Don't fear the light. In my stories, the train always sneaks up behind you. ;)

You didn't think Madam Blishwick was going quietly onto the dust heap of single-purpose characters, did you? Oh, no, she's much more useful. She's one more reminder that even people with the best of intentions -- in her own, bizarre way, her intentions are for the greater good -- are unable to let Draco move on. I think the target that Draco winds up cursing had as much to do with luck as it did with his wand control. That could have ended very badly.

In general, people always want to have Very Important Talks at the worst possible time. The Malfoys are no exception. Narcissa is the one who forces the issue; Lucius and Draco could have gone on for quite a while without speaking to one another. Poor old Lucius isn't faring well. So you're right, he's not the one who's been conspiring with Gamp, Flint and the others. Who? Well, you'll find out very soon. ;) When Draco realizes that his father's days could be numbered, it does force him to take a sobering look at his own situation. You're right: no matter now much he wants to not care, he does.

I believe that house elves have many secret tips for removing blood stains from marble. I hope they do, anyway. Otherwise, somebody will be ironing his hands later.

I was excited to see what you thought of the next chapter, and then you went and reviewed it right away! Awesome. Thanks so much!


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Review #15, by Pixileanin Errors in Judgment

7th December 2014:
Okay, I'm not even going to start with how long I've taken to return to this story. Bad, bad me. Was there a review around here somewhere? Oh, look. There it is!

"If you bullocks this up, there'll be hell to pay, Malfoy. I'm supposed to be meeting my future wife today."

Oh, the irony. Yes, and yes, and it all twists back around to Draco instead of this horrid bloke, which by the way, the moldy sock/cheap cologne combo turned my stomach. Ergh! I can't even imagine drinking that stuff. I was going to say how much of a piece of work Emery was, but when I thought about it, that would be the exact opposite. That boy hasn't had any work done to him whatsoever, and it shows in everything about him, from the mustard stains to the unwashed hair, and the "whatever" he'll be getting up to... I don't even want to know.

I love how you've kept Draco to who he was in your earlier stories, still reciting things in his mind to keep himself in check. I agree with him entirely that his quandary isn't quite what he expected. Telling Astoria was a bad idea. Not telling Astoria that he was attending, and now here wasn't getting him what he wanted either. And oh no! Nott's been clued in, as well as being completely off his broom about this new plan. Apparently, so have a lot of other people. Once Astoria told Draco that people were talking, I knew things would end badly.

Ok, so that whole next part was extremely painful to read. You captured young desperation at its most intense, and gave Astoria an argument that is both real and ridiculous all at the same time. She doesn't know the serious issue at stake because Draco is too busy trying to protect her, so she can't possibly understand. Frustrating and emotional, and perfect for this story. It was like a train wreck. Gripping and messy. I couldn't look away, and I was so glad when it was over.

Unfortunately, Astoria has to live with her actions and the consequences of her outburst, and quite possibly the realization that she has lost everything that means anything to her. I love the way you made her try so hard to be angry enough not to care, but fail miserably. I'm not sure her family could have made things any better even if they did force the door open and attempt to console her. At least Draco got to unleash his anger on someone else's property, someone else's father (was he envisioning someone else's face when he blasted Mr. Montague?) and console himself with the fact that he's not only made a mess of his own life, but also create extreme difficulty for Emery. Somehow, that even makes me feel a bit lighter.

Awesome prose here, my friend. Dreams have been crushed, and doom has blossomed on the horizon.

Author's Response: pix! What's shaking? How's trix? Oh, wait, I know the answers already. Anyhow, this was an awesome surprise!

Emery lives in a world of old-money pureblood privilege, perpetual adolescence and deep, deep denial. You are correct on both fronts: he would taste absolutely terrible in polyjuice form and you really *don't* want to know what he'll be getting up to. Completely unrelated side note: do you ever get a quirky, momentary desire to write stories for a no-holds-barred site, where you could inflict those sort of mental scars on people?

Draco is in quite a predicament. He thought his plan though -- he's too Slytherin not to -- but there were some flawed assumptions underlying it. Chief among those was the assumption that Zabini would keep his mouth shut. Very bad assumption, indeed.

I spent a lot of time editing this chapter before it went to beta and a lot more time editing it to incorporate sophie's suggestions on Astoria's though process and reactions. I'm really glad that the effort yielded a good result. Astoria and Draco each have so many incorrect assumptions about what's motivating the other, but they're too young and stubborn and they don't quite have the emotional vocabulary to talk it out. "Gripping and messy. I couldn't look away, and I was so glad when it was over." Yep, I felt the same way writing it.

The emotional aftermath was another part of this chapter that went through a few revisions to tweak the tone. Both of them make a transition from shock to despondency to anger and finally just to numbness. It was fun to let Draco unleash his aggression on Mr. Montague. I don't know that he was thinking of anyone else at the moment so much as he was generally angry. And, yes, Emery has some very unpleasant times ahead. Which, I think we can all agree, he richly deserves.

Dreams have been crushed, but better things will arise from the ashes. Have faith, my friend!

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing! Until next time.


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Review #16, by nott theodore Making Choices

22nd November 2014:
Hi, Dan!

It's been so long since I read any of this story but I hope you don't mind me choosing the next chapter of this for our swap, because I've been wanting to find out what happened next to Draco and Astoria!

This was a really great chapter! I liked the way that you opened it, almost abstractly, as Astoria watched a scene that she wasn't a part of, and wasn't anywhere near being a part of something like that. It was really interesting to see Harry and Ginny behaving like that, just so happy to be together - I suspect that a lot of that is because of the fact that they were under so much stress the first time, now they feel like they can just be free. I liked the way that Astoria felt a little jealous when she watched the scene, too, as if that was something that she was hoping to have some day. It was a big contrast to see Harry and Ginny and then Astoria, going to meet Draco, not really knowing what the two of them were to each other, or if there even was anything between them. I thought that was really effective.

The descriptions, again, were really lovely in this chapter. I could see such clear images of the different characters in my mind, and in that opening scene the snow covering Hogsmeade just felt so like a scene that I imagine from the books, or could see in the films, and that was lovely.

Of course, things had to go wrong. Nothing could just be as simple as the two of them meeting in a public place on a day when everyone else is doing the same.

Ron was such an idiot here, I wanted to shout at him. It's definitely not out of character for him to decide to make trouble for Malfoy, just because he can - I get the feeling that at this point, Ron would probably feel quite indestructible, and the temptation of going after Draco and getting one up on the boy that had bullied him and his friends throughout school was too much for him. Not that that makes it right or acceptable, of course. But it's in character that Ron would try and pick a fight and use his status to get away with it.

I was proud of Draco though, for trying to turn away and avoid the fight and the confrontation. That shows a lot more maturity than he started this story with, and there's already been character development here, which is great, only four chapters in. I do feel like he tried his best to avoid the confrontation though, and didn't want to make a scene. But I can't exactly blame him for having retaliated when Ron started beating him up, because nobody would just take that if they had another option.

The descriptions of the crowd gathered around Draco and Ron, just watching and not doing anything except trying to help Ron along, were really horrible. (The fact that it was happening, not the descriptions themselves!) I can imagine that after the war there'd still be a lot of tension, a lot of people at Hogwarts who resented the fact that former Death Eaters had been let back into school with them and people who'd lost loved ones in the war. I think you capture the sort of tension there very well.

The scene when Hermione came to Draco's rescue reminded me a little of the James/Snape/Lily scene that happened in their fifth year, which we see in the books. I'm not sure if that was your way of ending any hope people might have for a Dramione from this story, but I appreciated it :P I can imagine Hermione trying to help when she sees that Ron's being an idiot - and that she'd make sure Ron knew about it too - but after all she went through in the war, I doubt she's likely to take kindly to Draco calling her a Mudblood.

Astoria was right - he did deserve what he got from Hermione, although he hadn't provoked the initial fight with Ron, and I can understand why his wounded pride would prompt him into doing something like that. But I also really liked the fact that Astoria was watching from afar, not wanting to get involved and let Draco know that she'd seen everything that was going on. She's really sensitive to his moods and very perceptive - plus I can't imagine many people siding against the 'Golden Trio' after the war is over, to help a former Death Eater.

I am glad that she did step in afterwards, though. Draco was very brave to try and defend himself and fight, but it was hardly fair that three of them came after him when he'd already been through a fight with somebody else. I can imagine this happening though - people seeing the opportunity to take revenge and using it. There would still be so much bitterness, and even though official policy was to reconcile, I can imagine that wouldn't sit very well with a lot of people.

I'm really intrigued about who those people were, trying to kill Draco - why? What did he do to them? And to be honest, they're just as bad as Death Eaters themselves if they're willing to kill someone in the middle of a street, and then kill a girl they don't even know as well, just because she's there and trying to help defend Draco in an unfair fight.

The action towards the end was really well written, too, and very tense! I could hardly believe it when those words escaped from their lips, and I'm pretty sure that Draco managed to get the two of them away and neither were killed (since we're going with canon here), but it was very dramatic and an intriguing ending to the chapter!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hi, Sian!

No problem at all. I can never really remember who's at what point in my longer stories. I'm always just happy to be reminded.

For the opening of the chapter, I wanted something that would plant seeds of internal conflict with Astoria. Her upbringing is so proper that she can't possibly approve of what Ginny and Harry are doing, but she can't deny that she'd like to feel the same passion that the two of them feel. I think it puts her in the right mindset for what happens next.

I'm really glad you liked the descriptions. I try very hard to set a scene in my chapters that the reader can sink into and hopefully lose themselves for a bit.

Yep, things go very wrong for Draco and Astoria. I think it would be a pretty boring story if they didn't. It starts with Ron and escalates from there. Ron is, as you've surmised, mostly just being a jerk because he can. It isn't that he doesn't suspect Draco of wrongdoing -- he does -- it's just that those suspicions come down to nothing more than, "it's Malfoy, he must be up to something." For his part, Draco actually does his best to avoid the conflict. Some days, you just can't win for losing.

I hadn't really thought of Hermione/Ron/Draco in terms of Lily/James/Snape, but I can definitely see what you're getting at. Hermione tries to do the right thing, and Draco takes it the wrong way entirely. He pays the price for his lack of thoughtfulness. Astoria's right, he definitely had that one coming. I'm glad you picked up on the way that she tries to allow him to collect himself and regain a measure of dignity before she approaches him. She and Draco are from the same world. She understands how important dignity is to a pureblood scion like Draco. In some ways, even at this early juncture of the story, she understands him better than he understands himself.

You'll find out in the next chapter why those people were trying to kill Draco. It's actually a pivotal part of the first "breakthrough" that Draco makes in opening up to Astoria and trusting her. I really hope you enjoy it!

Thanks so much for the swap! I really enjoyed reading your work and also your review!


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Review #17, by DancingMooncalf Epilogue

4th October 2014:
Sorry that i waited till the very last chapter to leave a review, but i was simply too busy reading!
This was a very powerful and beautiful story with a lot of raw emotions that constantly kept me on my toes.
I loved every minute of it! I really did!
There character where very realistic and their development is great. I admire how you captured Draco's traumatised state of mind so well and how you made him deal with it all. I always wondered how he must have been after the whole ordeal witj the war was over and i think you did a womderful job in giving me an idea.
Thank you very much for such an exellent read!!
Maya

Author's Response: Hi! That's quite alright, I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. :)

More than anything, I wanted to capture the ugly reality of characters who had just survived a war. I don't really like post-war stories where everything turns to rainbows and kittens the minute Voldemort dies. The only way to do justice to these wonderfully complex characters, I think, is to allow then to struggle with their emotions and follow them through the healing process.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

-Dan


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Review #18, by mymischiefmanaged Getting Clean

17th September 2014:
Hi Dan, I've been looking forward to reading this chapter and it's everything I hoped it would be.

First, that whole image of the chandelier made of corpses...gahh it's horrible but exactly right for the nightmare you want to convey. You always get just the right balance when you write about terrible things, only using as much as you need to to make your point. And the nightmare shows us a lot about Draco, both about the things he's been forced to witness and about where his loyalty really lies.

Narcissa's support of Draco is very moving. I loved the line about focussing on Draco moving on before focussing on Lucius. I think the way you've written Narcissa feels very true to what we see of her through Harry's eyes. She's a woman who's been through more than she should have had to go through and unlike Lucius and Draco, who in JK's books seemed to focus primarily on self preservation, Narcissa understands that there are things more important than her own well being.

Astoria was lovely again, and the reminder that she's still at school was a helpful one. I'd forgotten, but of course she's still not finished with Hogwarts.

I'm unsure what to make of Horatio. You've explored some really interesting themes through his character. When he first started talking about his dislike for the Malfoys I found myself agreeing with him, and also thought he made some interesting points. Voldemort certainly wouldn't have wanted to think he only rose to power because of the status of his supporters, but it's definitely true. In some ways (but not many ways) Lucius and the Lestranges and co are more culpable than Voldemort himself. It's a very interesting exploration of pure bloods and inequality in wizarding society.

And then Horatio started criticising mudbloods and muggle borns and I lost my sympathy for what he was saying. He doesn't seem to have any particularly moral problems with what Voldemort did, he just doesn't like how it turned out for his family, which is very unlikable. He may be a good father but he definitely has his flaws.

It was good to see Zabini, although the things he was saying are a bit worrying. You did a very good job of showing how difficult it is to stand up to a friend, and Malfoy's disagreement with Zabini was very interestingly explored. I liked the way Malfoy didn't criticise Zabini's ideas but made it clear that he wanted no part in them. It shows significant character development.

The duel (does it count as a duel?) was another example of the leftover effects of the war. It's sad that things like that would happen but it's hard to see how they could not after people have suffered so much.

Although by the sounds of it this guy potentially didn't suffer very much. He seems to regret the fact he didn't do his bit during the war, and is trying to change that now when there's nothing to change. It's not a very admirable mindset but in a lot of ways is understandable. I think a lot of people would share his views. It would be hard not to feel survivor's guilt after realising how much other people (i.e. the Weasleys etc) had been through.

I'm loving this story, maybe even more than I liked Tales of the Death Eaters. I'll definitely be back for chapter three :)

Emma xx

Author's Response: Hi, Emma!

Whew. I'm glad Draco's nightmare came across so vividly for you. That scene was hard to write because I wanted to create the right image, but I also wanted to keep it very spartan and dark, focusing as much on Draco's reactions as on what he's seeing. So anyway, whew!

Over the course of writing Marked and this story, I really came to like Narcissa as a character. I find really interesting parallels between her and Lily Potter or Molly Weasley. Two very different visions of a mother who's determined to do what's best for her family. I hope you continue to like her, because she plays a pretty significant role in this story.

Astoria is entering her sixth year at the start of this story, which is her canon age according to all sources I could find. It makes the timeline a little complicated, but overall I think it works.

Horatio is meant to be complex, partly because he is and partly because you're seeing him through the eyes of Astoria, who's still trying to work a lot of things out for herself. A part of his dislike for the Malfoys comes from a misunderstanding on his part. He was never a Death Eater or close to any of Voldemort's inner circle, so he has no idea how powerful the Dark Lord truly was. To him, Voldemort was essentially some crazy street preacher that the Blacks, Malfoys and other Death Eater families elevated to become their puppet king. He doesn't realize that Voldemort would have become powerful no matter what, families like the Blacks and Malfoys just made the process faster and easier. As far as his feelings toward half-bloods and muggle-borns, he shares many of the same prejudices that most purebloods do. But he's not fanatical or violent about them. He didn't really see a problem with the state of affairs before the war and he's convinced that what the Death Eaters did has turned the tide in an unfavorable direction.

Zabini gives us an idea of where Draco's life would have continued to go if he hadn't had his fateful meeting with Astoria in Diagon Alley. By spending time with the most rational of his old friends, Draco is testing himself. He's trying to see whether he can function in that social circle without lapsing back into his old ways. He mostly succeeds, until reality catches up with him. The wizards who attack Draco and Zabini were not victims of the Death Eaters, per se, but they do know people who were. I think you're pretty much spot on with your read on them. They weren't brave enough to fight when Voldemort was alive, and now they're looking to take out their frustrations.

I'm so pleased that you're enjoying it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #19, by mymischiefmanaged Sobering Up

16th September 2014:
I love this. I loved Tales of the Death Eaters but I think I might have loved this one even more.

This line - 'In his present condition, he had no business operating something as complicated and decollate as his own body' - was just incredible.

I'm really impressed by how you write Draco's drunkenness. Being drunk is usually used either as a comedy tool, or in association with violence. What you've done with it feels original but is still very true to real life. It's kind of pathetic seeing Draco this way, but I think that was your intention.

I really liked the discussion of time. When Draco thought about the clock, and how the last time he looked at it it said 1.30, I assumed he meant 1.30 in the morning. And then he comes outside and it's the middle of the afternoon. It's a wonderful detail that really contributes to the overall image of him being totally lost to alcohol.

This idea of prejudice against death eaters is an interesting one, with the barman telling Draco they don't serve his kind. It's distressingly believable, and it's easy to see why lots of people would support it, but prejudice of any kind isn't a good thing, and seeing it through Draco's eyes creates a haunting image (especially because we know it's still daytime).

I'm glad you introduced Astoria in chapter one. I wasn't sure you would, but it's nice to see the beginnings of change in Draco's life rather than purely seeing him at his worst. I really like Astoria. She's kind but in a refreshingly straightforward and honest way, and it's easy to see how she'd be good for Draco.

The letter to Narcissa was beautifully written. You fit a lot of emotion into it while still keeping Draco's voice in line with canon, and I really like how it's Astoria that inspired him to write it.

Overall, this is a really brilliant first chapter, although I'm intrigued by how Lucius avoided going to prison. I would have thought he should have been arrested for his crimes, especially because he didn't do anything to redeem himself like Draco and Narcissa did. Maybe you explain this later on.

I loved reading this and am looking forward to seeing where you take it. It's really great to see an interesting exploration of Draco that's still in line with canon, and I've not come across one in this time period before.

Looking forward to chapter two!

Emma xx

Author's Response: Hi, Emma!

I remember spending a fair bit of time tweaking that first section to try to get the tone right. I didn't want Draco's drunkenness to seem like slapstick comedy, but at the same time there were parts of it that couldn't help being amusing because it's so pathetic. The mighty have fallen quite far, and I think he would have found 1:30 AM less surprising than 1:30 PM.

A strong backlash against anyone associated with the Death Eaters would have been completely understandable. They terrorized the magical world with impunity for over a year. I'm sure most people wouldn't have bothered to split hairs between the Dark Lord's more genteel followers like the Malfoys and the raving, homicidal lunatics like Greyback and the Lestranges.

The way Astoria is portrayed in this chapter has always seemed like one of the weaker aspects of the story to me, so I'm glad you like her. She is straightforward and honest, but sometimes I feel like she's too perfect. You'll see more of her flaws later on.

Very few reviewers have commented on the letter to Narcissa, so I'm glad it stood out for you. It's the culmination of a major turning point for Draco.

In my mind, Lucius managed to escape prison because of the things Narcissa and Draco did to help Harry defeat Voldemort. Plus he'd already done time in Azkaban and he didn't really fight in the final battle. Between that and his money, he managed to wriggle out of another stint in prison.

I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #20, by UnluckyStar57 Epilogue

15th September 2014:
What's this? I've finally come to review the last chapter? Oh wow, it's been quite a while! :P

Well, this one certainly didn't disappoint me--and I knew that it wouldn't, considering that all the others were so fun to read. But seeing the Epilogue from Draco's perspective was really interesting and quite funny, so I'm going to have to say that this is one of my favorite chapters in this story. :)

As for this being a realistic scene from Draco's perspective, my answer is YES. I like how the scene began with Scorpius and all of his nervousness, unlike the actual DH epilogue (with Albus). It made everything a little more personal and expounded upon the relationship between Draco and Astoria (especially now that it's been a few years) and introduced Scorpius's character in a really brilliant way.

Ugh, Lucius is always going to be Lucius. That's never ever going to change, unfortunately, but I guess there's nothing anyone can do about it. I hate that he went and passed on his pureblood mania to Scorpius, but the kid is pretty smart. He seems like he has a good moral compass and a penchant for eavesdropping. Maybe he won't end up as prejudiced as his grandfather.

DRACO, YOU SCAMP!!! Okay, as a rule, I NEVER ship Scorose when they're only eleven--that's like forcing them into something that seems "inevitable" and that just isn't right. But Draco is doing all of the shipping in this chapter--and he's doing it for very devious reasons. SCOROSE IS NOW AN ALLIANCE TO SHOW THAT THE MALFOYS DON'T HATE THE WINNING SIDE. WHAT IS THIS?!?! Ugh, what a weirdo. If Scorpius DID run into Rose on that train, I hope that they at least became friends or enemies or frenemies before they started making kissy faces at each other.

That being said, are you writing a Scorose? What with your writing style and the overly cliched nature of the pairing, that would be an interesting experiment! But you know, it's probably better if you didn't...

While I didn't necessarily like Draco's initial response to Scorpius's question about getting Sorted, I did think that it was a very Draco thing for him to say. OF COURSE it never crossed his mind that his kid might not be in Slytherin--Draco was a Slytherin before the Hat even looked into his brain! But Scorpius might be different--I can definitely see something of a Ravenclaw or a Gryffindor in him from this chapter, and it would be rather interesting to see how Draco deals with having a son in a different House. (Despite his final response, I still think that he'll have a hard time of it if Scorpius doesn't become a Slytherin.)

Hahaha, Draco and Ron will NEVER be friends. Ever. Even if Rose and Scorpius get married as soon as they graduate from Hogwarts. Some rivalries never die, and Ron was always the stubborn sort. It made a lot of sense for Draco to have another go at picking on him, even if it was indirectly--through their children. It might not be the nicest form of revenge, but I suppose that's the point. :D

So, what's next? Are you going to write a sequel to this? Maybe a one-shot with Scorpius's Sorting? (I'm kind of curious to learn what House he's Sorted into.) Or maybe even *gasp* a noncliche, action/adventure Scorose?!

Whatever it might be, I'm sure it'll be awesome. This story certainly was, and although most of this review concentrates on Scorpius/all the drama surrounding the Next Generation, I can't forget how this story made me think about Draco a little differently. This is character development/evolution at its finest. Bravo to you, Dan! :)

~UnluckyStar57

Author's Response: Wow, the last chapter! Such sweet sorrow.

In a weird way, this one was my favorite, too. Which may or may not be a good thing, since the subject matter of this one isn't really part of the main plot. It was neat to see Draco all grown up and watching Scorpius's life play out in front of him.

Poor Scorpius has some difficult times ahead of him. His parents and grandparents have gone to great lengths to shelter him from the ugliness of the world outside, which is similar in some ways to how the Potters raised their children. But the underlying reasons are very different, and Scorpius didn't have a hoard of cousins and close family friends to play with.

You're right, there's no stopping Lucius from being Lucius. You can only hope to minimize the damage, which is what Astoria, and to a lesser extent Draco, have worked to do. And it isn't as though Lucius was a completely negative influence. Scorpius will understand his roots and his family history very well.

Draco's sole purpose in mentioning Rose to Scorpius was to try to torment Ron. In Draco's mind, Scorpius might take Rose to Hogsmeade someday or perhaps snog her in a broom closet. He never, ever expected it to go farther than that. In the end, Draco's devious little plan backfired on both Ron and Draco.

Would I write a Scorpius/Rose story? Well, one idea has occurred to me. We'll see...

Draco sort of fumbles his way through the conversation about Scorpius's sorting, but he ends up at the right place. In my personal head canon, Scorpius does end up in Slytherin, but it wasn't a sure thing.

I really can't see myself writing a pure sequel to this story. I've written Draco and Astoria so much. Frankly, I'm a bit burned on the two of them. But I'm sure they'll pop up from time to time in other stories. And my idea for a story with Scorpius and Rose is definitely action-based. :)

Thank you so much for all of your awesome reviews on my story! It's been a pleasure and I've loved every one!


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Review #21, 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 #22, 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 #23, 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 #24, 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 #25, 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√ʬĬôt 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√ʬĬôs PoV worked well, too. All around, I√ʬĬôm pleased with how things seemed to play out for you.

Part of me feels badly about how unkind I√ʬĬôve been to Ron in this story. I definitely owe him a good one-shot or something. I don√ʬĬôt have anything against him, but you recall his prior confrontation with Draco. I also needed some way to introduce Harry√ʬĬôs role in the capture of Avery and the other conspirators. And, no, you can√ʬĬôt ever trust Draco√ʬĬôs PoV where Ron is concerned.

Harry√ʬĬôs 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√ʬĬôs conspiracy when they were trying to track down Avery. They√ʬĬôd been communicating with Avery in the guise of Mulciber for some time. When Avery told √ʬĬúMulciber√Ę¬Ä¬Ě 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√ʬĬôs 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√ʬĬôt completely abandon him because pureblood ladies don√ʬĬôt do that sort of thing, but she doesn√ʬĬôt 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√ʬĬôt 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√ʬĬôre 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√ʬĬôt found any other Draco/Astoria fics with this sort of dynamic. Then again, I haven√ʬĬôt looked too hard.

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


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