Slow chapters... pfft! There should be no slow chapters. Only slow reviewers. *cough* Sorry about that. I'm back for another chapter here. Let's see if I can string some intelligible words together.
Draco really had to have a huge amount of resolve to overcome his angst about returning to Hogwarts. He'd probably had loads of practice at doing things he hated, so I'm sure the revulsion and dread was like an old friend, but still extremely uncomfortable. I'm glad that you're not stopping to justify his position, or even ask the reader a tiny bit to feel sorry for the guy. I know I said I felt that way a bit in the last chapter, but you're not asking us to. That way, it comes across as much more genuine and personal. The way you write him here, we can't help but fall into his shoes for a moment.
The crazy cinematic falling to his knees in the snow... I could see it, and so did McGonigal probably. No one who was looking would miss a display like that. I like how you made the headmistress tough and no-nonsense. We're not getting any glint of sympathy or concern from her like she'd give to one of her own, and Draco doesn't deserve it. He doesn't deserve anything and he knows it.
And after all that, I think the sweetness in Astoria just about kills me. Hehee. At this point in the story, I just can't see Draco and her in the same room, much less having anything to discuss with one another that wouldn't be ridiculously awkward. You've set these two characters so FAR apart in my opinion that you've made the mere act of saying "hello" to each other as realistic as a fanciful pipe dream. And I know they're Slytherins and all, but Isadore seems to be the type who might go so far as to fangirl over a serial killer if he wore the right shade of green and put a swipe of gel in his hair. Ugh, girls. If she didn't have such a strong point on throwing blanket judgments on everyone, I might have had to throw fruit. The red, staining kind. I think raspberries are good for that. Bing cherries. They have pits and a longer trajectory. Split them open a bit, and... anyway.
Back to the story. Where was I?
I thought Slughorn was a great choice for a less-biased authority figure to usher Draco into the castle. You know, I really feel that Draco doesn't need any further training in Defense. I think that surviving the war should automatically give one a NEWT level certificate of some kind. The reactions of his classmates were highly appropriate, and no doubt tested Draco's resolve to play nice within the castle walls. It was a nice surprise that Luna was there to intervene. She's not one to hold misplaced grudges.
Ok, I see what you did there. That was cute with the flames and the shy smile and the larger metaphor.
I should try to get back here more often. Where was the slow in this? :)
Author's Response: Hi, pix!
It did take a lot of guts for Draco to try to come back, although in typical Draco fashion his expectations were a little too lofty. McGonagall addresses those expectations pretty quickly and lets him know what he's really in for. I wouldn't dream of asking the reader to feel sorry for him because honestly I want the reader to make up his or her own mind. Draco is still not a good person in most any sense of the term. He bought his way back into school, simple as that. Nobody wants him there, including McGonagall.
It's certainly going to take a while for Draco and Astoria to come together. That said, I hope she doesn't come across **too much** as being all sweetness and light. She's a Slytherin, after all. More of her traits will come out later.
OK, I get it. Isadore isn't exactly your favorite at this point. I'm glad I gave you just a bit of hope with her bit about blanket judgments. She will be useful later on. Trust me on this. ;)
Poor old Sluggy just sort of keeps doing what he does without overthinking things. In that respect, he is a pretty good match for Draco. I really wish I could find a way to write some good Luna moments into *every* story I write. She's awesome. She brings so much clarity to every situation.
Well, this chapter was pretty slow compared to the first one and especially compared to what's coming up next. I hope you get a chance to check it out. The pace picks up considerably.
Thanks for reading and reviewing!