Ooops, accidently posted this under my staff account. Let's try this again...
Astoria is really starting to grow on me. She's a bit of a cool cucumber, reserved and proper and a bit hard to warm up to, but I'm liking more and more with each passing chapter. She's got a bit of a Jane from Pride and Prejudice feel about her -- that sort of conducting herself properly air, keeping too much emotion from showing on the surface. She's got these sort of throw-back to a bygone era ideas about how to conduct herself that really speak to the way she was raised.
Awww, I loved this little nod to Harry and Ginny. Even in this brief glimpse, we can how much more of a free spirit Ginny is than Astoria and how free she is in expressing her affection. It makes for such a lovely contrast to how I'm guessing Draco and Astoria might be as their relationship progresses.
Draco's initial reaction to Ron's aggression was perfect. Very "here we go again..." This boy can't go anywhere without getting his butt kicked. Of course, Ron's behavior was atrocious here, and I don't like seeing him act this way, but we're seeing this all through Draco's eyes, so it's understandable that Ron comes off as nothing more than a bully.
The actual confrontation was really great. I've seen you write a few "combat scenes" now and you've got a real knack for them. I am very happy that Ron came out on top though. I think there is a tendency for people to write him as an oaf, but he is an Auror, or maybe an Auror-in-training at this point in his life. Either way, he should be good at defensive (and offensive :P) spells.
Hermione's line about the pair acting like children was great. It really dispelled the tension. In the moment, Draco is focused on the fight, but when it's all over, they both walk away looking a bit like idiots.
Oh boy. Another butt kicking! Draco seriously needs to think about investing in an invisibility cloak. But mostly I'm just annoyed this gang showed up and ruined their date. I was looking forward to some more Draco/Astoria interactions. Oh well, I guess that just means I'll have to come back for another chapter really soon!
I spotted a few typos. Other than that, another great chapter.
--So why don't you take your your shiny little Ministry badge and go bother somebody else? (take your shiny)
-- He struggled to reign in his temper, recalling McGonagall's warnings about the consequences of any sort in incident (sort of incident)
-- The time it took to shrug off the confusion was rarely worth it you were in danger (it if you were)
-- Granger stood in front of him,offering the handle of his wand. (him, offering)
-- He was vaguely aware of the pain in his chest as his arms and legs flailed about and then the hard cobblestones of the street knocked the air our of his lungs. (air out of his)
Author's Response: I don't really care who reviews from what account, but I could see how the implied endorsement might be an issue. Anyway, I'm thrilled to see you back again so soon!
Astoria and Draco are both at a phase in their lives where they seem to spend a lot of time trying to work out the conflicts between what they were raised to believe and the new reality that's staring them in the face. In Astoria's case, she's been raised to be a proper, respectful, somewhat deferential girl who maintains a lot of facades. Coming from that background, I thought she would have very mixed feelings about seeing Harry and Ginny engage in such an open display of affection. Disapproving, but also more curious than she'd ever admit.
I wasn't especially nice to Ron, the way I wrote him in this chapter. He definitely comes off like a bully although, as you say, the story is told through Draco's eyes. But I don't think that Draco's perception is all that far off from what a dispassionate observer would have seen, assuming you could find such an observer in the emotionally charged, post-war world.
I love writing dueling scenes. Why have all these amazing abilities if you're not going to use them? And I don't think there was any risk of Ron losing to Draco. Ron was too angry and too determined to win, while Draco just wanted to get away from the whole situation. Throw in Ron's nascent Auror training and it wasn't even close to fair.
Ah, Hermione! I really loved the opportunity to bring out a little flash of that bossy eleven-year-old, at least for a few moments. But then Draco messes up. Badly. And she lets him have it. Truthfully, even he would admit that he deserved no less.
You'll find out some more about the Ratcliffe family (the old witch and her two sons who were attacking Draco) in the next chapter. Suffice it to say, they have a grievance with him and neither side is completely in the right.
Thanks so much for pointing out the typos! Not many reviewers do, and now I can edit and see my chapter-read count update with a clean conscience.
I'm really pleased that you liked it. Thanks for reading and reviewing!