Chapter Three certainly holds lots of interesting new things! :D
The opening, in which Draco returned mentally to the night of the battle, was really powerful. He's still so messed up, and he's got a lot of work to do on himself! I loved how you described the outside of the castle, with the new structures sharply contrasting with the old. It definitely gave Draco a good shock, which is probably exactly what he needed. He's like a cowardly criminal who hasn't been punished by law, returning to the scene of the crime--where he gets the REAL punishment: knowing that he is guilty of being on the wrong side in the war.
This fact is only continued by Minerva McGonagall's harsh treatment of him. I, for one, was a bit shocked at her biting orders and almost-cruel way of laying down the law, but I totally understand. Even the tight-lipped Head of Gryffindor House can be known to play favorites, and Draco was not one of them even before he became a Death Eater. I think that her words showed some of that favoritism--a lack thereof towards Draco--and it makes sense. She watched some of her babies die, and when she was offered a chance to go face-to-face with one of the students who did things that were the exact opposite of brave and just, she made the most of it. Draco needed that--actually, I think that all the abuse he's getting is good for him, to a degree (but hopefully it'll lighten up as the story progresses--nobody likes abuse!).
About Astoria and Isadore: I have observed my peers, and though I don't really participate (maybe I do a little bit...), I can tell that there's nothing that entertains and enlightens so much as gossip. Isadore is that friend (everybody has one!) who just HAS to know all about Astoria's feelings/love life, simply because she cares (AND because she likes knowing things). I'm really glad that Astoria was a bit unwilling to answer all of her friend's questions--as much fun as it is to talk about oneself, it is also fun (and sometimes necessary) to keep your own secrets. Just going on a hunch here--I presume that you are NOT a teenage girl, however, you wrote the conversation very accurately!
Oooh, those Gryffindor boys made me mad! I mean, they have a right to be angry about the war and sad for all of the destruction it caused, but they didn't need to direct all of their anger at Draco. In many ways, they echo the barman and the customers at the Leaky Cauldron back in the first chapter--they are citizens who stood for the winning side, and whenever they see a member of the losing side, they want to crush the losers again. They acted in a terrible manner, but I understand WHY they did. Thank Merlin for Luna Lovegood!
Speaking of Luna, she was absolutely great! In her Luna fashion, she put a stop to the trouble that was brewing. Shoutout to the Gryffindor guy who took it upon himself to tell Slughorn that the disagreement wasn't her fault! She is a peacekeeper, the voice of reason in post-war Hogwarts. It seems funny that reason should come from Luna Lovegood, but after all, reason speaks as it pleases. Luna seems to have lost some of her airiness since the war--but hey! She spent months in a basement, and that's enough to kill even the bravest of people. I know that you wouldn't be so stereotypical, but THANK YOU SO MUCH for not even mentioning Nargles. Post-war Luna has bigger fish to fry now. :)
Well, that's all for now! See you next chapter!
Author's Response: Hello, again!
It's still really messy inside Draco's head. I'm glad that came through clearly. His first sight of the castle since the end of the war triggers a flashback of sorts. Dealing with that was definitely a sort of punishment.
McGonagall is beyond angry at the fact that Draco is being allowed to return to school. In my mind, she was presiding over a very young and fragile recovery at Hogwarts. All of the returning students had to deal with so much trauma and death during the prior school year. The wizarding world is not very large, population-wise. I imagine that every one of them knows at least one person who was tortured, injured or killed by the Death Eaters. Draco is a living, breathing reminder of that suffering, and he's walking around the castle, taking classes. She doesn't want her students to have to deal with that. And she knows full well that Draco is only being allowed back because of his parents' money. All in all, not a recipe for a happy Minnie. ;)
I'm glad that the conversation between Astoria and Isadore sounded right to you. I had quite a bit of help fine-tuning the teenage girl-talk from Jami and sophie, so a lot of credit goes to them. You are correct that I am not a teenage girl, nor have I ever been one. So it tickles me pink that it all worked.
Luna is definitely in the right place at the right time, and that's a good thing for Draco. Gah, I can't tell you how relieved I am that she sounded right. There's no way to put into words what it means for something to sound like Luna. It either sounds like her or it doesn't. Dumbledore is the same way. Scary stuff. I think she is a bit more grounded after surviving the war, but part of that is also just from growing up. She's pretty hard to shake.
Thank you so very much for the lovely review! Until next time...