...Wow. This story gets more intense with every chapter. Draco just can't catch a break, can he?!
Going back to the beginning, though... The Harry/Ginny cuteness was absolutely perfect! In recent years, I've lost my appetite for reading about Hinny, but this little scene made me like them again. The fact that their joyous meeting is juxtaposed with Draco and Astoria's catastrophic escape at the end makes quite a striking comparison. War heroes can fall in love and show their faces in public, but ex-Death Eaters should never show their faces out of doors.
In my opinion, Ron has always been a bit over-the-top. He gets mad at Hermione for going to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum, for goodness' sake! With Draco, I think he acted in a very Ron-like manner. He perceived Draco's words about gold as a "jab" about him being poor, which makes sense. That's something that happens A LOT in the books, and a Ron newly trained to be an Auror is not likely to forget that.
Draco doesn't seem overly noble at the end, at least, not so much that he acts out of character. I have a feeling that if Astoria were any other person, he might've tried to avert his enemies' eyes to them so that he could escape. However, it ISN'T any other person--it's Astoria, and he likes her and wants to get to know her better. Trying to protect her from the vindictive wizards is a sign of how much he wants to change.
I think that I'm starting to hate all of the people who want Draco dead. Those wizards were being entirely unreasonable--killing BOTH Draco and Astoria?! That makes them just as bad as the Death Eaters. I think that's something that I really love about this story--it shows that there is no fine line between the good guys and the bad guys.
Merry (late) Christmas!
Author's Response: Hello, again! I'm always excited to see what you have to say!
Ginny and Harry aren't a focus of the story, but I wanted some way to start to get Astoria thinking outside of the limits of her stuffy, proper little pureblood life. Of course she stares down her nose at their public display of affection, but there's a tiny bit of her that's jealous and wants that kind of unbridled passion for herself. Certainly nobody is going to call The Chosen One and his girlfriend out on a little public snogging. ;)
I don't mind Ron seeming a little over-the-top, I just didn't want him to seem ridiculous. He's absorbed so much abuse from Draco over the years that I couldn't imagine him not taking advantage of a situation where the tables were turned. The snide comment about not being able to pay a compliment was just the last straw. That punch had been coming for years.
I'm not sure how he would have reacted if someone other than Astoria had tried to intervene. At that point, it would have been his self-preservation instincts competing with his pride and I'm not sure which would have come out on top. But, like you said, it was Astoria, the girl to whom he's attached his hopes for a better life.
In the next chapter, you'll find out that the old witch and the two wizards have a pretty good reason for wanting Draco dead. I wouldn't go so far as to call it justified, but there's more to the story than what you've seen in this chapter. You're definitely right about the line between good and bad. It's very fluid, to say the least.
Happy Holidays to you, as well! Thanks so much for the awesome review!