Hello Dan! I'm finally here! Yay for three-day weekends and no lesson preparation! Have I ever read anything of yours? I feel like I haven't and we somehow keep missing each other on the read/review spectrum!
You know, I'm very picky about my Draco stories. Very picky just because I feel like he's one of those characters that JKR does so well - she has this particular characterization in place and he is just so completely complex. I say this because I am in awe of your talent when it comes to Draco (among other things, but I'll get to those later). I believe you've hit him spot on and yet, extended his characterization. We would never see an intoxicated Draco in the series, but it is so canon. It seems exactly like something the post-Hogwarts Draco would do. He is much more than insulting, intolerant foil for Harry: he is conflicted individual much like Severus Snape. If you can understand all of that nonsense, I'm basically trying to say that I love your Draco. I will try not to fangirl over him, but you write him so well, I might turn into a ball of mush!
I admire your descriptions and dialogue as well. The chapter is description heavy, but not in the least dull. You are setting up the scene and novel(novel, right?) nicely. And you know, the length of the description here reflects Draco's characterization - he's from a pureblooded, formal family with certain traditions. The decision/writing style to create such wonderful description adds another layer to the character you've created. It gives us insight without steering into purple prose.
The encounter with Astoria is so perfect: it's officially my headcanon. I can't wait to find out more about her and how you characterize her. I'm so fascinated by her already. Now, I might be totally off the mark, but this is how I view her now: She's sympathetic not just because she's a pureblood, but because she sees that Draco needs sympathy and even pity during this time. Astoria seems like my idea of a twenty-first century pureblood - she sticks with the traditions simply because they're traditions, but not necessarily agree. I'm probably way off your characterization and this will sound stupid, but that's what vibes I'm getting! Furthermore, the way Astoria seems to somewhat sober Draco up is wonderful. You'd think he would be cold and unyielding, yet I believe he would gravitate to a woman akin to his mother - loving to him and sympathetic to his needs. I hope there are parallels between the two (so maybe I'm not completely off!).
I also enjoyed the reverse-racism we see here. I hope this theme continues to come up now and again. The wizards and witches almost don't realize that what the Death Eaters and Voldemort sympathizers did to them that they, in turn, are doing. It's so literary and intense - not something you see every day in fanfiction.
Well, anyway, after that ramble...I loved every aspect of this first chapter. No constructive criticisms from me in this chapter! It's impeccable. Okay, so every week I try to make my rounds and review at least one chapter in all of the stories I love (Jami's, Amanda's, Becky's, etc.) and I'm DEFINITELY adding you to my list of fanfictions to keep track of. You have great style and a great command of the English language! I will be back for more!
Author's Response: Hi, there!
I agree that Draco ended up being a very complicated character in the books. He definitely didn't start out that way. For the first 5 books, he was more or less a punching bag for the Trio who occasionally punched back. But starting with the sixth book, JKR introduced a lot of subtlety to him. In very limited appearances, his character gave us a window into what it was like to be a very conflicted participant on the other side of the war. So like you, it frustrates me when people write him as either a one-dimensional villain or as a white-washed redemption story. I don't think of him as either.
I'm glad that all of the descriptions didn't make the chapter drag. There honestly wasn't much for him to say until he encounters Astoria, so it was the only way to go. This story has become a novel, somewhat to my surprise. I was thinking short story or novella when I started out. Funny how these things can get away from you.
I actually think you have a pretty good handle on where I'm heading with Astoria. She does tend to honor tradition, but it's more out of a sense of duty to her family than because she agrees with the letter of the rules. At times, she doesn't see the point. But she does obey her father because that's what proper pureblood young ladies do.
I tend to think that once the initial shock and grief from the war passed, there was a lot of anger directed at those who were identified with the Death Eater cause. In Draco's case, the anger isn't completely unjustified. There was definitely a time in his life where he idolized his father and wanted to be just like him. I'm sure there were also moments during the war -- whether out of immaturity or just plain fear -- where he flaunted the mark on his arm. The fact that his family changed sides at the end almost makes it worse in a way, because they're mistrusted and hated by both sides.
I'm really glad that you enjoyed it. I hope you get a chance to read more. Thanks for the review.