Ok, sorry I've been a bit slow, I decided to read all the validated chapters and then come back and review them.
I was surprised at first that McGonagall was so rough on Draco, but then I remembered that she wouldn't know what Harry or Snape or Dumbledore knew about him and her actions are sort of justified then. I liked your interpretation of her, she felt tlike the McGonagall we all know and love. Her comment about how she thinks the governors were wrong to let Draco back in the school reminded me of when she'd stand up to Umbridge...you really don't want to get on Minerva McGonagall's bad side, do you?
Astoria's thoughts about Draco were very realistic and genuine. You've captured her quite well as this young, idealistic yet very strong girl, and despite the madness that is still going on in the wizarding world, she is obviously experiencing something of a crush on Draco. The girlish conversation about fancying Draco was so perfectly placed among everything else that's going on - it makes you realise that wars and prejudice can't stop these basic teenage emotions :)
Wow...the scene in the potions classroom was perfect. I felt so uncomfortable for Draco when he was trying to be quiet and keep out of the way while others were determined to attack him. It creates this brilliant conflict in the reader because on the one hand you feel bad that he's trying to change and people are treating him so badly, but on the other hand, he wasn't really very nice to these people. Yes, their ideas about his involvement during the war might be uninformed somewhat, but he still was on the wrong side and even before the war, he was the worst kind of school bully, who used to pick on people just because he could and used his influence and power to hurt others. I both feel sorry for Draco and feel like he deserves to have his life to be made difficult. I think it was pretty naïve of him to think this sort of thing wouldn't happen when he came back to Hogwarts though.
I love that Luna stepped in to defend him, it was such a perfect Luna move. I think Luna sees a lot more than people ever gave her credit for. She is incredibly perceptive and sees that Draco maybe isn't the black and white character the others have palmed him off as.
The writing was brilliant as usual, I didn't spot any mistakes. I've really enjoyed what I've read so far and I'll be back to review the next chapter soon :)
Author's Response: Hi, there!
I agree that McGonagall was very harsh on Draco, but she has her reasons and they aren't just about the things that he did or didn't do during the war. I actually imagine that Harry did tell her, Kingsley and the other surviving members of the Order about the fact that Draco lied to Bellatrix and Narcissa lied to Voldemort. Otherwise, the entire Malfoy family almost certainly would have wound up in Azkaban. I think her opposition to Draco has more to do with the surviving students at Hogwarts. Many of them lost friends and family members to the war and the majority probably know at least one person who died. Having Draco -- an admitted Death Eater, even if his family did switch sides at the end -- back inside the castle would have been very difficult for a lot of the other students, as we see later in the chapter. More than anything, McGonagall is trying to protect the very fragile recovery that's starting to take root at Hogwarts. And given her deeply-engrained sense of right and wrong, I'm sure she also believes that Draco is a coward for participating in atrocities just to save his own life.
I'm glad you like Astoria. At times, I'm worried that she sounds too mature in this story. So I did try to make her act a bit more like a typical teenage girl in this chapter.
The scene in Slughorn's classroom was my favorite part of this chapter. Luna is a character that I always find myself wishing I could work into my stories more often. She's fun to write but terrifying at the same time because getting her words to sound right is so tricky. Luna is like modern art or being in love: you can't explain what it means to "sound like Luna", you just know it when you read it.
As far as whether Draco "deserves" what almost happened to him, I'm honestly not even sure myself. No matter how much he changed because of the war, the reality is that for the vast majority of seven years at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy was not a good person. Even after the war, he's still prejudiced and more than a little arrogant. But he's also learned that his prejudices aren't worth killing or being killed over.
I'm really glad that you enjoyed this chapter. It's definitely one of my favorites in the story so far. Thanks for another awesome review!