There were a few things in this chapter I found a bit confusing. That's nothing new, per se. You've always been able to keep me on my toes with this story. Having to think -- sometimes a lot -- to sort out what's happening is one of the things I've come to enjoy about it. With this chapter, though, it might be a little more than normal.
The first section, however, was pretty straightforward and unambiguous. My dream came true, Draco was busted by the Auror Vincent. I can understand Harry's discomfort with Devlin finding out, or at least finding out from a newspaper article. The poor kid's head is so twisted up, I sort of feel like he thinks that everything that happens is part of some diabolical master plan of Voldemort's.
Ooh, so Devlin has recovered enough from the emotions of the previous chapter to get a little testy with Harry about how best to keep himself safe. Harry has his ideas, Devlin has his own.
The next section is the first spot where I got a bit confused. Is it Madam Bones or Hermione who's dropped by to visit Devlin? Or is Madam Bones's first name Hermione in your version of events? Based on context, I'm thinking it's much more likely that the visitor is Madam Bones, head of the DMLE. I liked the way you wrote her. She seems friendly, but it doesn't extend from her words to her facial expressions. There's plainly an ulterior motive, and she doesn't fool Devlin for a moment. The two of them engage in some brilliant and entertaining repartee, then he dismisses her with a combination of gallows humor and an almost casual refusal to help.
In spite of the way he tells her off, I liked the fact that Devlin actually took something of value away from their conversation. It seems to finally be dawning on Devlin -- maybe he's just heard it from enough people at this point -- that everything Voldemort taught him or shared with him was part of a carefully woven plan designed to cultivate and ensure his trust and loyalty.
Returning for his first appearance in a few chapters, it's the wise, old werewolf. Another thing that seems to finally be sinking in for Devlin is that Geoffrey's "loyalty" to Devlin is really more about Geoffrey's desire to ensure his own survival by following Voldemort's orders to their illogical conclusion.
I was a little unclear on the point of the exchange between Devlin and Geoffrey that begins with Devlin's observation about Draco being stupid. Then I reread it and I realized how it ties into the ending. So Emma was listening to their conversation from at least that point on. And Geoffrey seems to know it, too. I'll bet Emma was what he was looking at "toward the side out of the corner of his eyes". I'm quite curious as to what Geoffrey hopes to accomplish by allowing Emma to overhear the things she did. Perhaps he thinks that Emma is the one person that Devlin won't be able to emotionally shut out or lie to.
The rest of the exchange is brilliant, the way that Geoffrey illustrates how Voldemort used the appearance of understanding Devlin -- of knowing more about Devlin than Devlin knew about himself -- as a means to control him. Following on, Devlin starts to question who was really tangled up in whose head. Awesome moment for him.
And then the blood-chilling moment, when it becomes obvious that Emma overheard much more than Devlin first thought. That she overheard the conversation about Devlin and Voldemort, even if she's too young to really know what to make of it. I cannot wait to see the aftermath of that.
Three things I saw that you might want to take another look at:
There was an older lady where at the kitchen table, sipping at tea that afternoon when he came down to sneak a cookie. -- there at the kitchen table
Are you not than capable of those things since I would deem them unfavorable? -- not then capable
Geoffrey chuckled and rolled on the balls of his heels. -- balls of his feet?
I'm really eager to see what comes next. Knowing the way you've paced the story, I'm suspecting that we might see a setback for Devlin before he makes any more big steps forward. Til next time!
Author's Response: Gerr! The Hermione bit is simply an illustration of how two versions of a chapter do not always get cleaned and braided properly together. I meant to remove her from the scene, but clearly uploaded the previous, not proof-read, chapter. I fixed it a second ago. :) Thanks!
Yes, Harry doesn't want him to see from the newspaper.
I'm glad you enjoyed the Bones and Devlin interaction - and the thoughts it stirs in his head even after he dismisses her. I think she was pretty sure she would be dismissed - going in. I don't imagine Harry sugar coated it or suggested she might be successful - or perhaps did not actually want Devlin to tell her.
"Another thing that seems to finally be sinking in for Devlin is that Geoffrey's "loyalty" to Devlin is really more about Geoffrey's desire to ensure his own survival by following Voldemort's orders to their illogical conclusion." I do SO love Geoffrey for this reason. To the reader he seems to flip-flop quite a bit, and I cannot wait until we truly KNOW which it is. Don't judge him yet. You might feel differently in the next chapter - and differently again later.
Emma was listening yes. I won't yet say whether Geoffrey saw, and I urge you not to take his reactions/actions as evidence of his knowledge. We all know Geoffrey is tricky to pinpoint. :)
In the beginning of the chapter when Devlin sees the newspaper on the kitchen table, he notes "The boy had gotten bigger." This suggests he KNOWS the boy, and I hope you picked up on that.
""The boy didn't seem to have mastered such a facade," Geoffrey said thoughtfully
"The boy had a stupid father," he argued, his voice chilly."
These are further clues I dropped about Devlin having met the boy. In fact, he mentions it many chapters back too, but I can't recall which one. Anyway - more will be revealed in the next chapter. :)
I think you will really really enjoy the next bit. Remember that roller-coaster you were so fond of - well we've been climbing to the top of the hill and we're about to pick up speed here. ;-)
Remember Draco wanted a Time Turner? He brings that up in the next chapter. ;-)