I thought I had already read and reviewed this chapter, but, upon reading it again, I realized that I never finished reading it - I never got to the second half!
But, let's get to that in a minute.
As usual, the small details that you choose to add to a scene help to define what the character is feeling. Starting this chapter off with Draco's internal diatribe about the firewhiskey sets the tone for how unhappy he is to actually be in this situation. And it obviously lets us know that he is drinking - again. Although, it would seem that he is exhibiting some control.
The hints about the "new partner" being Lucius are pretty clear - I am wondering if it is too obviously Lucius and is, in fact, someone far worse. Hmmm. You're keeping me guessing on this one.
I am also curious about the "man who is carrying messages" between Gamp and the new partner. I don't know why that stuck out at me in the story, but it did.
Draco's anger resurfaces here, but he seems to regain control rather quickly - far better than he did in Hogsmeade. I think you've done a fabulous job with slowly changing Draco's anger. He still maintains his same basic personality traits, but he is growing and wants to become a better person. Astoria has a lot to do with that. I also felt a little bit like Draco was trying to convince himself that he had to be a part of this group, for Zambini's sake if nothing else.
Admittedly, I haven't yet read "Harry Potter and the Conspiracy of Blood," but I wanted to finish Detox first. I haven't felt that I have missed anything regarding any of the characters, but you hinted that Gamp might be a tad more threatening than he appears in this story. Just a drop. However, I was already freaked out by the crazy laughing and the way he seems just a bit off. People, even the sons of death eaters, don't know how to react to straight up crazy. Perhaps Draco feels a bit like he needs to there to protect his friends from Gamp.
Yet again, you've successfully accomplished a dichotomy between the two scenes with opposing sentiments. The image of Astoria getting sick in the Gringotts cart is comical (I giggled - although I'm sure it wasn't funny to her). And this entire scene had a much lighter, slightly humorous feel to it. Of course, I loved it.
So... a little heart-to-heart with the future mother-in-law, eh? It was really great to see these two women interact. I think it was really important, as well. Astoria, while willing to go against her own family, might be a little intimidated to pursue Draco if his mother also didn't want the match, being that they are so close. As for Narcissa, she probably views Astoria as the woman that brought Draco back to the land of the living. Before he met her, he was drunk, wallowing in self-pity, and on a track of imminent destruction.
I also liked the little parts where you let us know that Astoria's feelings for Draco go beyond the emotional attachment. Since they can't actually be together physically, these moments are important.
Until next time!
Author's Response: Hello, again!
You're right: Draco's gripe with the quality of the Zabinis' firewhiskey isn't really about the firewhiskey. Not completely, anyway. He is exercising a measure of control, although the battle is far from over.
Could be Lucius. Could be somebody far worse. You'll just have to wait and see. ;)
Draco's ability to manage his anger will come and go, depending on just how bad the circumstances are. Flint pushes him a little too far and Draco snaps, but basic self-preservation reels him back in fairly quickly. You don't turn your back on Gamp, period. I'm kind of curious what you'll think of Gamp if you get around to reading Conspiracy of Blood because I don't know of anyone who's read the two stories in that order. He's a real piece of work.
I always find a little humor can add something to an otherwise "heavy" dramatic scene. It breaks up the mood a bit and highlights the serious parts. Besides, not everyone in the magical world can have the kind of cast-iron stomach that's immune to the Gringott's cart ride.
I really, really enjoyed writing the interaction between Astoria and Narcissa. Narcissa has a habit of stealing scenes in my stories, and I'm afraid she did it again here. There's something really tragic about her character, yet very strong at the same time. She's fascinating.
Hang onto that thought about Astoria's non-emotional feelings for Draco. Soon...
Your reviews are always lots of fun to read and respond to! Thanks!