Hey Dee! I'm back for more! And happy to be, because I loved this chapter. ^.^
The beginning is great. I thought it was really clever of you to give Draco and Hermione some tension over the case here, especially after their hand-holding moment in the previous chapter - it's the perfect way to continue building their relationship slowly without making them feel out of character. You continue to take your time with them by doing this; allowing them to get along and even hinting at a spark for the first time, but not harping on that moment or overdoing it so that we're suddenly rushed into a new level of relationship. Balance is key, and you're doing it flawlessly. It also helped that Astoria was dragged into the conversation as a key factor of the disagreement, with Draco defending himself in regards to wanting to find her. This line in particular was great: "You more than anyone should know that just because we weren't the perfect couple she made us out to be does not mean that I want her to be in danger."
I really do love your Hermione. Her mannerisms and way of thinking are so very much in character - the impatient tapping of the foot, the annoyed tutting, the mirroring of Draco's actions, the stubborn 'I refuse to speak first' mentality - it's all great! And it plays so well against Draco. They actually have quite a bit in common in regards to the way they react to certain situations, which is fun to see considering how fundamentally different they once were. It's hard to write a good post-war Draco, but you continue to handle him well. Yay! ^.^
Stan is great, too! His accent is perfect and his attitude in regards to everything he's been put through (parts of it his own fault, of course) feels very authentic. I feel a bit badly for him as well. He was such a sweet boy when we first met him in the books, but even nice people fall into traps like these when money is involved. And now he's gotten himself stuck between two sides... That middle ground he's walking makes for a very interesting character and some awesome scenes.
I really liked the Head Guard, Rodger! He's a great balance for someone in that position - friendly and flexible in regards to those trying to ascertain the truth (even if it means putting into question one of his own), but direct and authoritative in regards to the prisoners in question - very no-nonsense when he has to be, but truly good at heart... or so it seems. You've got me on alert of all the guards now, though, because of Corbin, you brat! Though Rodger truly does seem like a good egg. I really hope he continues to be the good guy he seems to be! Don't you go pulling a fast one on me, Dee! :-p
Even as a shorter chapter, it still contained a lot of great moments and important occurrences! You really excel in the art of pacing, in case I haven't mentioned that before, and not only in regards to this chapter, but the story as a whole. It covers a lot of bases at a quick pace, but still slows down for the moments that need it.
"He walked over to the table and put both of his hands on it, looked Stan in the eyes and spoke very slowly to him, "You tell me everything and you tell me now, Shunpike." - So, because of the way the first half of this sentence is setup, I think it would read smoother if you changed the second half to something more like: "...looking Stan in the eyes as he spoke slowly to him." Also, I think that instead of a comma before the dialogue begins, it should either be a period or a colon. All minor things, though, and definitely just opinions! ^.^
"Stan opened his mouth to reply but was stopped when
(spacing here is wonky)
Hermione gasped and stood up so rapidly that she (the, not she) chair she had been sitting in was knocked over behind her; she ignored it."
OMG ENDING! WHERE IS SHE? Part of me is really itching to go back to the chapter with the interview and see if I can figure it out for myself, but I'm forcing myself to hold off and be surprised instead! You've done a great job at not giving the mystery away, which is something I feel like I'd fail spectacularly at if I attempted a mystery novel, so kudos to you! Honestly, you're doing such a great job at keeping the mystery going and revealing facts and clues little by little - it keeps me on my toes and unsure of what's to come, but excited to find out! And that was such a great way to end this chapter! CHAPTER TWENTY COME QUICKLY! (Not that I have any room to beg, seeing as I'm the slowest updater ever, huh? :-p) It's really great, Dee, and I look forward to the next update!
Author's Response: Tanya :D It has taken me too long to reply to this gorgeous review, I'm very sorry!
I'm glad you still like the Draco/Hermione dynamic, I'm definitely dragging out the development of their relationship, but it's the way I'd always wanted it to be :)
Hermione is definitely the character I find the easiest to write, I can totally relate to her. I'm glad you like the way I write her and Draco seperately as well as together. Post-war Draco here is pretty different to Draco from the books, but I try to keep his basic character in his stubborn-ness and sarcasm the same.
Ah, Stan. I really loved his character in the books, he's just so clueless and naive and I can't not have a soft spot for him. As soon as I had the idea for this story I knew I wanted him in it somehow. He's certainly gotten himself in a sticky situation here, and if I'm honest, I still haven't decided how things will end up for him.
Rodger was a really fun character to write. I knew I didn't want him to be a typical surly guard who communicated through grunting, I ended up getting a little ahead of myself with him, in my head he has a wife and kids and a love of gardening :p You can rest assured he won't be going down the same route as Corbin did though :p
Thank you for pointing out the spacing and grammar issues, somehow something always slips through the net :p
I'm not sure if you've read the next chapter yet or not so I won't say anything about Astoria's whereabouts. Chapter 21 is also up now too, and 22 is currently being written. I have lots of motivation at the minute :D Thank you again for this lovely review, you are far too kind!