I think I've expressed to you how much I adore you -- from the first I read of you (Nocturne) and from what I now obsessively stalk (SA♥). Now I can say with some confidence that I kind of sort of worship you.
I love a good Drastoria (of which there is a definite dearth on the archives) so when I finally noticed you had a completed one, I ran over (well, not ran. I was bored. So I was trudging, I guess. But mentally.) And I read and I read and as it went on I was thinking to myself "Ooh, pretty and downtrodden!" And then chapter six happened. And I felt like I was hit by a car. Just -- I cannot in 12+ terms express how shocked I was. And then this chapter kind of broke my heart and I remember you saying that this slots into the SA canon and suddenly everything makes sense now. I finished reading on my phone, so I reminded myself to review when I got the chance. But then today I was really very bored, and I couldn't stop thinking about this. So I decided to read it again, the entire thing through. And now I can truly say everything makes sense now.
Somehow when I read chapter 6, the bomb Astoria drops didn't really register to me. It was a shock but, since I'm a quick-ish reader, I thought it was out of the blue. It seemed to fit, but only in a vague "ooh look at this plot twist" way. That's really why I read this for a second time: I could tell that this was put together so very carefully, and I wanted to see how the beginning read knowing what would happen. And now I want to congratulate you for writing one of the tightest, most cohesive, gorgeous/heartbreaking fics I've ever read. I don't know if you've noticed by now, but I don't believe in plotting or pacing, and it really comes across in most of my stories, but this is just like. Plot. It all fits in perfectly and it makes me really jealous of how well-thought-out this is. I wish I could pull this off without the reader ever being the wiser, because I certainly wasn't.
I expected that she had been in Azkaban because of the tattoo -- I agree, it wasn't convincing at all -- but the character of Astoria. Just, eek. What a dynamic person. At first I wasn't sure what to think of her because she seemed put-upon quirky, like what fic writers assume "quirky" is and pair that "quirky" girl with Gaspard Ulliel or something and suddenly it's a "non-typical" romance, you know what I mean? Not that Astoria was shallowly drawn at all, even at the first read. But I was wary of her, always. And with the realization that she's been playing him but "out of love" came my own realization that everything makes sense (I'm repetitive today, aren't I?). Astoria seems shallow because she is playing shallow quirky! SO GENIUS I AM GREEN WITH JEALOUSY (but my fingers are blue with cold).
I noticed in your reviews that people are iffy about your Draco characterization, that it's OOC or exaggerated or something. But I think the point of fic many times isn't about staying necessarily super "in-character" as much as creating an environment in which this version of a character can reasonably exist, and I think you did a marvelous job explaining and showing why Draco is the way he is. It never struck me as OOC or weird. I think I've told you this, but I love seeing a well-written Draco, especially when he's a down-on-his-luck-cynical-downtrodden type, which you do so well. I liked him much more on this second read (THE DRAWER WAS OPEN OMG -- I keep having little realizations like this as I let the story mull in my head) because I was more used to him, but both times I couldn't help but want everything to work out well for him, which is a very rare thing for Draco most of the time. I'll be honest, I don't like that he goes back to Astoria. I understand that he does it, and I can't imagine your Draco doing anything else, but I can't help but think what a self-destructive relationship this will inevitably be. I'm not surprised that he would do this to himself (Does he love her? I hope so, but I'm not sure), but it makes my heart ache that he does it anyway. I wish I could save him. And that is a ridiculously hard thing to do in any fic and now I'm really green/blue.
I could say that I have no more words for this review, but that's obviously untrue. I could go on for days shrieking about how much sense everything makes now. I am, in my head, but these review boxes have a habit of cutting me off when I get super duper verbose, so I'll stop here and say I really really really idolize you right now. Thank you for writing this. ♥
Author's Response: Okay, I've had this review sitting in my unanswered reviews box for about a month, totally unwilling to answer it because I just wanted it to stay there forever - honestly, I don't think I've ever received a better review in my entire life - but now I feel I should really bite the bullet and answer it.
Deep (typing) breath.
Drastoria ♥ my otp. For reals. I have absolutely no idea what sort of person Astoria would be to end up marrying a prat like Draco, so I love coming up with endless ways for them to meet, him to change, endless people she can be, etc. This was an absolutely tiny idea that kind of just exploded into something a lot bigger. Honestly, it was only meant to be four or so chapters, and there was no omg!dark past or drama or anything - it was just going to be a mildly angsty story of love, with the whole car accident thing still happening and then the two of them having to start again with Astoria's memory problems. It was always intended to be downtrodden, but my initial Astoria was a very flat character. There really was no substence to her, which is why I changed the plot totally. I think I'm actually lucky to get away with it being a 'coherent' fic - this version of chapter one is still the one that fits the old plot and the old characters. I think I must have changed my mind around the end of chapter two. I'm pretty indecisive.
I was a little apprenhensive about chapter six, I must say. Everything's revealed at once in one big go - thing is, I couldn't think of another way to do it. I considered going back and rewriting it as a retrospective narrative so that Astoria's dark!past would be known from the start and the accident and everything - but, honestly? Effort. Lowe that. This must have been one of the last stories I didn't extensively plot for. I just had a vague sketch in my notebook - everytime I wanted to reference an earlier chapter (e.g the drawer) I had to go back and re-read to find those references. Honestly, I feel this was such a fluke. I was actually dead nervous about posting chapter six - I thought it would go down really badly. So for you to come along and say that it's cohesive and gorgeous, I'm not even kidding, gubby, it means the world to me. This review put a massive smile on my face for about a week, I tell you.
Astoria's character, haha. Yes, she is very flat in those first chapters - more originally because she was. But as I was writing it it did actually make sense to the plot to make her so shallow. I wanted to sort of portray Draco's...confusion, maybe? Yeah, the way he couldn't make sense of her. Like she was quirky and enigmatic, and then normal and enigmatic, and then criminal and still enigmatic - like a chameleon, haha. You know, Memento #2 (this is #5) had her confessing she'd been a prisoner and him basically saying 'alright, yeah, that's cool. Totally fine with that.' then her losing her memory. But after writing that, I realised it was such a naff reaction - he'd be way more shocked. It hurt to split up one of my favourite pairings in the argument - it was actually a bit painful having to write him having a go at her, I loved writing her character so much - but it felt the most right. If that made any sense.
Oh my word, I'm rambling. I really need to get to the point.
I know what you mean about wishing Draco sort of wouldn't get back with Astoria. I can reveal now that, well, it doesn't end happily. Of course not. I don't do happy endings ;D I'm having writing the SA prequel - the only angsty bits in an otherwise humour fic are when Draco and Astoria are around. I can't help it, I love the pairing too much.
All in all, Gubby, I think I'm slightly in love with you. It's not wrong to say that, right? Right? To get such wonderful praise like this from the person who wrote snow red and lovely - snow red AND lovely!!! - ah, it feels awesome. You really cheered me up with this review, and I'm really glad you enjoyed the story ♥