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Review:Roots in Water says:
Hello! I'm excited to see what sort of conversation Draco and Astoria will have now that they're in a more private place...

Oooh- another fantastic look into Draco's life after the war. I really admire your ability to understand what he went through as an unvoluntary Death Eater during the war. You don't soften his experiences, you don't have him commit any great acts of heroism to "redeem himself". Instead, you show that he made bad decisions, yes, but he was also very afraid for his and his family's lives. He was reluctant to contribute to the Death Eater's acts but he is not someone who would die for the Wizarding world, like Harry, and there's nothing truly wrong about that. He's human, that's all.

I think that he did a great job of showing his vulnerability in this chapter, of letting Astoria see more of who he is. It really shows just how much he wants to become closer to her, since his pride forbids him from opening in such a manner to everyone.

I also really liked how Astoria was one of the few to see the difference between receiving the Dark Mark and wanting to receive it, as there really is a large difference between the two possibilities. Furthermore, I think that Draco did a great job of explaining his thoughts about the Dark Mark. He didn't just start in and explain his hatred of the mark in an over-the-top manner, which certainly would have gained him points in some company... But not Astoria's. He was able to see that she really wanted the truth and all of the grey areas that accompany it.

Your explanation of his feelings toward the Dark Mark was fantastically done. It fit Draco's character perfectly, with his admiration of his father and his slow realization of what the mark actually meant. It was well put when he said that the mark didn't give you any power, it just made you a slave.

However, I was a little confused by Draco's explanation of what had happened between him and the Ratcliffes. I understand why he and Greyback went to seek them out, but then you said Greyback attacked the middle son... And Astoria asked if it was the "youngest son", to which Draco nodded yes. Did I miss something? What is the significance of him being the youngest son... And when you said "middle son", were you referring to his position in the row?

I also really liked that you added Astoria's encounter with McGonagall into this chapter. I was really interested to see how it would play out and so I'm very glad that I was able to sate my curiousity immediately! I really liked the twist you put with Hermione, especially since it does seem like Hermione to defend Draco from the prejudice she likely (and truly) thought he would receive from other witnesses.

I don't think that Astoria's words will result in an immediate change in McGonagall's treatment of Draco but I do think that it's planted the seed for a slightly gentler treatment in the future. Draco still needs to prove himself but McGonagall is probably more willing to give him the chance to prove himself now.

All in all, I think that you did a great job with this chapter and I'm eager to read what will happen next (especially Draco's surprise when he realizes that, against all odds, he's still enrolled in Hogwarts). While I can't say "Thank you for requesting a review!", I certainly can say "Thank you for replying to my status!". So thank you! :)

Author's Response: Hello, hello! Thanks for the generous offer!

I've never thought of Draco as "brave", per se. Probably the bravest thing he does in the books is when he lies to Bellatrix about not knowing who Harry is. But he is very devoted to his family. So I tend to cast most of his actions in terms of his motivation to stay alive and keep his family safe, or at least as safe as they can be under the circumstances.

I think the vulnerability he shows to Astoria is key. She's never going to accept that he's changed unless he lowers the walls somewhat and shows her. She's quite perceptive. So after he finishes baring his soul to her about the horrible night when he first met the Ratcliffes, I think it definitely would have made her question whether he ever wanted to be a Death Eater.

Draco's feelings about taking the Dark Mark are very grey, I think. I have to imagine that he spent the better part of two years wondering how getting everything he'd always dreamed of turned out to be such a horrible thing.

I guess I could have made the part about the three sons more clear. Madam Ratcliffe had three sons. The middle son tried to attack Draco and Greyback killed him. So when Astoria asks about "the third son", she isn't referring to their birth order but to the fact that only two of the Ratcliffe boys attacked Draco in the last chapter in Hogsmeade.

McGonagall is doing some thinking by the end of this chapter. Like most people, she isn't ever going to forget which side Draco fought for. She will also never forgive him for allowing Bella, Greyback and the others into the castle on the night Dumbledore died, even though Dumbledore was fully aware of what was going to happen. But she is beginning to take note in the change she sees in Draco. More on this in future chapters.

I'm really glad you liked the chapter. This story is slow going for me because I know where it's going to end, but I haven't 100% figured out how I'm getting there. That's part of what makes it fun, I guess. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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