I have a hard time writing and reviewing on the same day, but I finished my chapter earlier than expected this evening and decided to treat myself to another chapter of this lovely story.
I'm not going to lie; I was super, super surprised to find myself both in Draco and Hermione's head in this chapter. Not that I didn't like reading both of their perspectives. It just didn't occur to me that the story wasn't going to be told entirely from Harry's POV. You just capture him so well it was a little jarring not to have him there. Not that the scenes you wrote weren't great...
Draco read a little, erm, softer (???) to me than I imagine him personally, but I thought you hit on some outstanding points with him. I loved the whole section that starts: Draco quickly realized that the particulars of his personal hell were different from those of his mates...
This whole bit so perfectly captured Draco. He may have started out as just spewing the hate he'd been taught as a child, enjoying the idea that he would be part of a class that ruled over others, but that wasn't him by the end. Once he was given his special assignment, he had to have understood then that he -- his entire family -- were disposable. There would be no winner aside from Voldemort since he valued no one's life but his own. How devastating to learn that a cause (even an evil one) is a farce, and all the terrible things you've done are not only terrible, but meaningless too.
Oh, and the line: She saw him the way his mother did. YES. YES. YES. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion on characters and their capacity for change, but a momma's boy like Draco -- you just know he's going to end up marrying a woman just like his mother. I mean, the line is also rather sweet in that his wife sees the good in him, the same way his mother did, but still... And your Astoria totally lives up to it too. When she tells Draco they aren't leaving the house until they've torn it apart, I can absolutely picture Narcissa saying the same thing to Lucius if she thought there was something in the Manor that could bring harm to her family.
One more thing on Draco, then I'll move on, I swear. I love how you referenced his affection for his grandchildren, regardless of the rocky relationship he has with his son. That not only fits with the Draco in my head (I can't imagine him being an outstanding father-of-of-the-year type, what with how his own father behaved), but it seems that there is something about grandchildren that can soften a parent's heart. They can often show these children more affection than they can show their own children.
Another random great line that really needs to other comment: My husband's problem is that he spent so much time in the Dark Lord's company that everyone else seems benign by comparison.
Gah, this review is already getting long and I didn't even get to Hermione yet, or how I totally did not see the guy with the toupee being in on the attack. I loved that twist! The bits with Flint were great too. I love how much you've amped up the plot with everything that happened here. The idea of this missing book...if it really even exists. Percy better not turn out to have it :P
Okay, enough from me for one night. I can't even really think of any CC to offer (other than maybe a few extra "dears" -- I can see one character being inclined to address others that way, but they were all calling each other that and it was just a tiny bit odd). I do hope we go back to Harry's POV then soon, but only because I like the way you write him so much. Until next time...
Author's Response: Sigh. Taking four days to respond to a review is really embarrassing. Please forgive me.
This is the first chapter where I hop around between different characters' points of view, but it's something you'll see a lot over the rest of the story. It's one of my favorite narrative techniques, because it lets the reader experience the story through many sets of eyes and ears. There's an old saying that says, "always write from the point of view of the character who knows the least or has the most to lose." I always try to keep that in mind.
I've really grown to love the character of Draco Malfoy. I thought JKR did amazing things with him and Narcissa both in HBP and DH. Draco was such a generic villain in the first 5 books, almost a throw-away. But then he became really complex and interesting. I've tried my best to capture a lot of that in my portrayal of him. He still isn't a "hero" in the conventional sense. Many of his bad traits and prejudices are still there. But he did learn a lot during the war about what's important in life, and he would do anything to keep his family safe.
I'm really pleased that you like Astoria. She became one of my favorite minor characters as I wrote this. She'll be part of the story almost until the end.
I do think that spending time around Voldemort and Bellatrix made the rest of the world seem like a cake walk to Draco. This topic gets a fair bit of attention later on.
I really don't mind the long reviews. I love finding out how different things in the story affect people.
I *think* this is the last chapter I wrote before I started working with my beta reader, sophie_hatter, so you'll probably notice a major improvement in the quality of the writing soon.
Thanks so much for reading and leaving such detailed, thoughtful reviews!