I told myself I wasn't going to do anything aside from write today, but I read this chapter last night and wanted to post a review while it was still fresh in my head. At least that's the excuse I'm going with...
What is it with bridesmaid dresses? The whole process is torturous for everyone but the bride. Though I suppose that could be said for most wedding preparations. It's nice, though, to see you turn Daphne and Astoria's relationship on its head a bit. I don't read a LOT of stories focused on these two, but when I do, they seem to more often than not portray Daphne as the demure one, with Astoria being the one with a touch more fire and passion. I like the idea of switching that up. Astoria does show some good gusto later on in the chapter, but in his current state, Draco needs someone with a cool head more than anything. Of course, I'm not sure it's totally fair to judge the true character of a woman in the middle of planning her wedding, so I won't be too hard on Daphne here.
Hmmm... I'm disappointed in Astoria's mother. Not it the way you've written her... I was just hoping for more from her for Astoria's sake. I get the sense that she might, in another time and place, be more inclined to encourage her daughter to seek out true love, but perhaps she's just not quite ready to let go of the "old ways," particularly in world that seems to be moving on without them. But I'm not ready to give up on her yet. I'm holding out hope she'll see the light.
Oh, and...As far as his hygiene... well, I'm certain his mother will see to that. My favorite line of the chapter!
I was surprised to see Astoria lay her cards so fully on the table. Up until the letter, it felt a bit more like she and Draco were dancing around the idea of being a couple, but she pretty much comes out and tells him here that if he wants her, he better be prepared to move and move fast. Good for her!
I'll admit, I'm a little disappointed to see Draco as put together as he is. After the end of the last chapter, I was expecting to see him slip back into a much darker place. Clearly he's no longer abstaining, and that alone is a slippery slope. I just thought we'd get to see you kick him around a bit more. But perhaps that says more about me than your story, so I won't press the issue :P
I did like the way you've brought us back to the scheming of Draco's former friends. Obviously, I'm not sure how it will all play out, but I can see how both this element and his relationship with Astoria are heading for a nasty collision... perhaps at the wedding itself? And I loved Draco's line: I wouldn't know. My family tree has fewer grafts. Zing!
Just a couple of typos below. Otherwise another great read. Oh, and what you said in your author's note about knowing what you want to happen but not being able to come up with the words... I feel like that with EVERY chapter, so you're not alone!
-- Once they reached the safety of Astoria's bedroom, the Madame Pinking started the laborious process of extracting her from the cumbersome dress. (no the before Madame...?)
-- Her mother swept back across the room and gently cradled Astora's face between her hands. (Astoria's)
-- I wanted make sure that you found out directly from me, and that you know that none of this was my idea. (wanted to make sure)
-- He admired the deep, amber color and complex aroma before downing the drink in a single gulp. (possible POV change? I suppose admired could be a substitute for looked at/studied, but it reads here a bit like we jumped into Blaise's head for a moment)
Author's Response: Hello, again!
First off, thanks so much for the edits. Much appreciated. Amazing the things that you miss even when you stare at a chapter for days before actually posting it.
I've never had the pleasure of being fitted for a bridesmaid dress -- I wore a prom dress to a party once; that's a whole different story -- but I get the impression that around 90% of all bridesmaids secretly loathe the whole process. Daphne, in particular, has chosen some true horrors of late 19th century women's fashion to inflict upon her bridesmaids. I'm not sure I think of Daphne as fiery. More just excitable, moody and pretty self-absorbed. Astoria is definitely the more reserved of the sisters, but she has her own excitable streak as you see later in the chapter.
Astoria's mother is a product of her upbringing. At some level, she wants to break free and allow Astoria the freedom to follow her heart, but she's just not there yet. It's a big leap for her, seeing as how everything she's ever valued in her life is a function of her family and her social status. That doesn't make it right, but at least I hope you can see where she's coming from.
Poor Emery gets picked on a lot in this chapter. He more or less deserves it, though.
I think Astoria is so upset and her mind is being pulled in so many directions by the time she writes to Draco that her emotions are pretty much laid bare. Madame Pinking does have a point. Even if the experience is boring and uncomfortable, being part of a wedding does tend to make a young, single person think. Astoria wants to find for herself what her parents stumbled into through dumb luck. She wants to love and be loved, and she thinks that Draco is The One to make that happen for her.
I don't think of Draco as being "put together" so much as he's holding it together at this point. Rather tenuously, at that. You'll see more of it in the next chapter when he has his chat with Gamp, Flint and Zabini. Aside from his drinking, he's having a lot of problems controlling his anger at this point. Draco's problems, Lucius's scheming and the insidious plans of his old friends are all starting to converge, but I can't exactly tell you where it all ends. That would spoil the surprise.
Thanks so much for the review! You're always so thoughtful and detailed. It really makes my day!