|Review:||nott theodore says:|
Hi Dan! I have to tell you that I was really happy when you requested the first chapter of this story, because I've been wanting to read it for months now without managing to get round to it. Once again, I'm sorry that this review has taken me so long to write - apparently my life is destined to be hectic even in the holidays!
I've heard so much about this story and I definitely wasn't disappointed after reading this chapter! This is the first post-war story that I've read that's actually focused on the 'other' side, the one that didn't win the war, and I'm so excited about it. This chapter felt extremely real and it's so refreshing to read a story like this focusing on Draco and Astoria (I'm sure I don't need to expand on my opinions on Draco/Hermione :P). At the end of the series I'm always left unsure about Draco, and I can never decide how I really feel about him and what he did. Here he seemed really depressed (and possibly suffering PTSD as well?) and I actually felt more sympathy than anything else when I read this. Seeing someone so young in a state where they're drinking away their troubles is really sad, actually.
As a side note, you write drunken people really well. I've read a few of your stories now featuring drunk people, and I love the fact you're not glamourising it here as so many of the Hogwarts party scenes tend to do. It really helps to get across the state that Draco's in, and the fact that alcohol has become a crutch for him and as a result he's being sick in the streets. It's understandable that he's turned to alcohol to drink away his troubles, especially with the war so fresh in everybody's memories, but it's really horrible to see him in that state and it makes me feel really sorry for him.
I think my favourite thing about this chapter was the way that it was really clear the tables have now completely turned - Draco is now suffering persecution from the general population in the same way that he and other Death Eaters persecuted Mudbloods and Muggles. It's so different for him and I think that realising everyone in society - especially a society you've previously been well known and popular in - now hates you would be enough to make someone so depressed. It's a harsh reality, and not one that I think many stories focus on. But I know that after wars, the losing side often suffers even more because the winners are the ones writing history - even though in this case the winning side were right, it doesn't mean that the prejudice which follows is. I think it's great that you really made us face up to the realities surrounding war and the aftermath of it, because too few stories (especially in fanfiction) which don't do that.
The scene in the Leaky Cauldron was actually the one that stood out to me most as representative of what Draco's going through. It really seemed to be his lowest point here, being publicly exposed and humiliated in front of so many people. Especially considering his constant thoughts of his family's reputation and keeping up appearances, it's something awful to happen to him. I liked the fact that his pureblood breeding also showed through, that even though he's suffering from depression and is very drunk, he knows that his behaviour is important because it reflects on his family. It's like it's been drilled into him so much that it's impossible to forget.
I know that you said you were worried that Astoria seemed 'too good to be true' in this chapter, and while I can understand that I don't think it's a real problem. In Draco's state, I genuinely think that anyone who is prepared to stop and talk to him, and even help him, will seem pretty amazing. Considering we're seeing Astoria from Draco's perspective, I don't think that she does seem too good to be true at all. I feel like she's the sort of person who's lived in her sister's shadow a bit, and is quiet but strong, and the fact that she decided to help Draco is proof of that. But I think we have a lot more to discover about her character, and her family and their attitudes in particular are intriguing me.
Draco didn't seem overly dramatic, either. He's drunk, and I think that sometimes certain things seem more important, or more 'dramatic' when you're drunk. So his epiphany of sorts isn't at all surprising (I might have witnessed it a few times with friends).
This really is a brilliant first chapter, Dan, and thank you so much for requesting! I'm really intrigued about what Draco will do next to start detoxing and sorting his life out. I have a feeling that he could end up back at Hogwarts, and I'm really intrigued to find out. Feel free to re-request!
Author's Response: Hi, Sian!
I'm glad you were happy about it, because I'll be coming back to re-request 15 more times. ;)
JKR does sort of leave Draco undefined after the end of the war. She dribbled a few details in interviews, but it's mostly wide open. You're correct in your guesses, at least as far as this story goes. He is suffering from depression and PTSD. Layering anger management issues and a substance abuse problem on top of those, you have something of a basket case. It's really sad, but my goal was to show him at rock bottom before he starts to rebuild himself.
I think the trick to writing drunk people is to keep in mind that there's nothing inherently awesome or terrible about drinking. It's just one activity out of many that a person is probably engaged in at the time and context is what's important. Draco isn't drinking to have fun, he's drinking to escape. That's never a good thing.
That was pretty eye-opening for Draco, huh? There was a time in his life where he probably would have written off the ill treatment he received as mere jealousy, but that was before the war. In his own mind, Draco sees himself as being as much a victim of Voldemort as the ones who fought on the winning side. So when they don't see it that way, I think it makes the experience even more jarring for him. The winners do indeed write the history, and the Malfoys are perhaps the worst kind of villain in that narrative because the price that they paid was never publicly known.
I'm glad you didn't think Astoria was too angelic in this chapter. Readers have been rather mixed in their reception of her. She is kind to him, because in my mind that's just the sort of person she is. She sees a schoolmate in trouble and she tries to help. Draco's alcohol-sodden brain does the rest.
I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it! In a lot of ways, this story felt much harder to write than CoB, which makes me pretty proud of how it ended up. Thanks for reading and reviewing!