You've been leaving me such wonderful reviews, I thought it was high time I left one for you!
First off, I have to discuss your descriptions. They are absolutely beautiful and amazing. I especially love they way you described Hogwarts with the parts that have been rebuilt and the parts that were still being worked on. I felt like I was there, seeing it right in front of me. You do a fantastic job of *showing* the story instead of simply telling it.
You mentioned that it was a slow chapter, but I don't exactly agree. Quite a lot happened. First off, we have Draco's return to Hogwarts. I particularly liked the part where he collapses in the snow. Perhaps, I'm over thinking it, but I felt like this was another step in his "Detox" process. Almost like he needs to have these breakdowns along the way to his recovery - be it from the physical addiction of the alcohol or, in this case, "detoxing" himself from his dirty past.
Also, we meet Isodore (love the name!) and can see that her friendship with Astoria is so important to both girls, but they are also both dealing with the fallout from the war. That is a lovely touch, how you manage to portray that there were truly victims from both sides and that war is never a simple as good versus bad.
Also in this chapter, we see that reality smacks Draco hard in the face. McGonagall's reaction was harsh - it even caught me by surprise. I think Dumbledore would have been a bit more forgiving, but he was the true, kind educator to the very end, wasn't he?
I really enjoyed the appearance of Ginny, Hermione and Luna. You stayed true to each of their characters. It is so like Luna to consider unwanted beef stew as a gift and a favor that needed to be returned! Oh, and we get to learn a little about Narcissa - I gasped at the realization that she was sending food to the prisoners. I had pictured her as a person who focused solely on her son and husband, to the exclusion of all else. I am intrigued (almost as much as Draco was) to learn more about her.
Through the entire chapter, you have also been true to Draco's character. Through all the humiliation and discomfort, he still remains arrogant and a little hot-tempered. Although, I do see a bit of courage poking through every now and again. I suppose he will need some of that in the future.
Of course, I couldn't help but let out a little squee when I saw that you left us with a tiny bit of hope. I can't wait for the Hogsmeade trip!
Thanks for the great read!
Author's Response: Hi, Beth!
I experimented a lot with Detox. One of the bigger items I tried was the style of keeping dialog completely separated from the surrounding text and not using any tag verbs. Because of that, I felt like I had to work harder on the descriptions and visual imagery to make sure that the reader didn't lose track of what was going on.
Draco does a lot of "three steps forward, two steps back" in this story. I agree with you that his first visit back to Hogwarts was ultimately a step forward, but it was a difficult one.
I'm glad you liked Isadore in this chapter because I'm not sure you'll like her as much by the time it's all over. She does fill a pretty important niche for Astoria. She's "that friend" who challenges Astoria's preconceived notions about things, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way.
Reality hits Draco really hard in this chapter. When he was walking around Diagon Alley, getting dirty looks, at least those people were far away in a relative sense. In this chapter, the people who loathe him are in his face. I spent a fair bit of time trying to decide how to write McGonagall's reaction. She is an immensely fair-minded person and above all else, she's an educator. Two things swayed me to write her as harshly as I did. First, I'm sure she hasn't forgotten that it was Draco who let the other Death Eaters into Hogwarts on the night Dumbledore died. Even though his death was planned, the physical and mental damage to the other students and teachers was immense. Second, McGonagall is nurturing a very gradual, very fragile recovery at Hogwarts. I'm sure a lot of parents struggled long and hard with the decision of whether to send their children back to school after the war. And nearly everyone in the castle -- even the Slytherins -- probably lost a friend or loved one during the war. As a marked Death Eater from a family of Death Eaters, Draco would have been a walking, talking reminder of the horrors of the war. I'm sure McGonagall didn't want him disrupting the normality that she was trying to restore to life at Hogwarts.
I'm glad you feel like I've stayed true to Draco's character. That was really, really important to me. I don't like stories that white-wash his character or portray him as some sort of arch-villain. Draco was neither of these things. He's a very complicated character, and the prejudices that make him complicated aren't likely to ever go away.
Yes, there is hope for Draco and Astoria. You'll find out more over the next few chapters.
Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!