Reading Reviews for Traitorous Hearts
  
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Review #26, by Unicorn_Charm A Family Affair

24th April 2016:
Penny!! Happy Birthday!! ♥

Here for our swap!

Gah! I forgot how much I love this story. Your writing it impeccable, seriously. I love your Astoria so much. She's such a wonderfully written, strong, complexed, amazing female character. Your version of her is my headcanon forever, I swear. She's fantastic. I really like her relationship with Filly. You can tell she cares for the elf a lot, and that's so nice to see, considering she came from a Pureblood background. She comes off so hard and cold, but you know that she can be a very warm person underneath. She has so much depth!

I'm glad that her father was mostly [i]there[/i] when she spoke with him. I thought the whole portion with the Muggle books was fantastic. And I loved the comparison her father made about Muggles, with the hairless cats. It was a little bizarre, but I totally got what he meant. I can't imagine how hard it must be for Astoria, not knowing if her father would realize who she is, or who he is, for that matter. This poor girl has been through so much. I just want to hug her. I really do hope that dinner goes well with them both, but I fear that it won't.

The whole thing with the portrait of her great-great grandmother was interesting. I wonder if she's going to play more of a part at any point? Or if she'll actually speak to Astoria. For some reason I almost pictured her as like a Mona Lisa. Smiling enigmatically at Astoria.

I can't wait to see what happens when Astoria goes back to school. If she'll interact with Ginny more? Or if she'll have more interactions with Draco? And I just want wait to see the state of the school from a Slytherin's perspective.

I'm honestly shocked that Draco didn't run. I get why he didn't, he was right, they would find him. But I'm still surprised he didn't. You did a great job showing Narcissa's love for Draco. How she was ready to sacrifice herself, but just wanted Draco to leave and have a chance to live. I think Narcissa is an extremely underrated character in the whole Potterverse. She's so much stronger than I've seen people give her credit for.

This, as always, was a great chapter. I really need to get back to reading this, because it honestly is one of my favorite stories on this site. Awesome job!! Thanks so much for doing the swap with me! And Happy Birthday again!!!

xoxo Meg

Author's Response: Aww, Meg! Thank you! That honestly means so much to me.

"Your version of her is my headcanon forever, I swear. She's fantastic." My heart just grew like three sizes! ♥

I always thought it would make a lot of sense for Purebloods to become quite attached to their House Elves. I think it's the ones who are insecure and need to feel bigger than someone who look down on them. And it's the awful ones, like Bellatrix, who are outright cruel. But we saw that Regulus Black was very fond of Kreacher, for example. The way I imagine it, in many cases the House Elves function as nannies to the Pureblood children, which at least gives them the opportunity to have a true bond. Between that and Astoria's lack of a true confidante in Daphne, I thought it was quite natural that she would have formed a bond of genuine affection with Filly. And, as you say, it gives us a chance to see underneath Astoria's cold shell and realize that she truly does have a warm heart.

I'm so glad that you think she has depth! I'm always wrestling with Astoria, because she can be so contrary and cold, as you say, but I really have wanted that to come across! She's a lot more than what she shows.

Haha, Astoria probably wouldn't appreciate the hug, but I appreciate it on her behalf. I love when people tell me they care about her. She's my baby! My secretive, contrary, occasionally-morally-questionable baby ;)

Astoria is consistently frustrated by enigmatic portraits in this story. I'm afraid it's her lot in life. As to how much of a role her great-grandmother will play, we shall see...

I'm dying to know what you think of what happens when she returns to school, myself. I shan't reveal anything, but she certainly finds herself on a surprising path.

Ugh. I have to say, writing that scene with Draco and his family, after Harry & Co. have escaped from Malfoy Manor, was one of my favorite parts to write, just because I felt like it was so important. It's really sad, but that's what I've wanted to connect with. Draco is someone who, in his heart, has wanted out for so long, but fate seems always to conspire against him. I wanted to explore how Draco goes from being the person who couldn't kill Dumbledore; the person who wouldn't turn in Harry Potter, even though he had to know it was him; to being the boy who shows up in the Room of Requirement, lackeys in tow, ready to take Harry down with no reservations. I mean, how does that happen? But when I started imagining this scene--what happened *after* his family had failed Voldemort yet again--then I could understand. Draco does the right thing, and gets screwed. He protected Harry, and now his whole family is going to pay the price for that. For someone like Draco, whose moral compass has always been a little off, but who loves his family more than anything, this is unbearable. This is his *fault*. We know that they aren't killed for this failing, but I imagine with Voldemort it's always a near thing. I hope it allows the audience to sympathize with Draco a little bit more. He's someone who *wants* to do the right thing, but gets back into the corner. He's not that different than Xenophilius, really, someone who does the wrong thing, for sure. And it's frustrating, for sure. But you can understand it.

I absolutely agree that Narcissa is hugely underrated. But if all goes according to plan, she'll be back! :D

Meg, thank you so much for saying such lovely things! I really and truly appreciate it so much. That this is one of your favorite stories on the site, just--ack!!! And I always love reading your thoughtful reviews! Thank you for swapping with me, and thanks for the birthday wishes!

--Penny


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Review #27, by dreamgazer220 The Stolen Truth

24th April 2016:
Swap 1 of 2!

Penny!

First of all, happy (technically belated) birthday! I hope you enjoyed your day.

Second of all, thank you for doing another swap with me! I'm really loving this story, and even though it has mainly been about Draco and Astoria's interrogation on her family's loyalty, I've said before that you write it so well.

Even in this chapter, when they didn't move from the parlor and you didn't have a flashback, their conversation was as lively as ever. The way you write, it's so easy to picture the scenes in my head and hear the way they talk to each other even when you don't have anything to describe the way they said something. This conversation really is a game, and it was so nice to see it both from Draco AND Astoria's point of views, because then we get to see how they come across from the other's perspective.

But ooh, Draco pulled one over on her! I'm actually quite glad that Astoria asked about Veritaserum because that answered any questions about why he hadn't used it on her before, just to get what he was looking for and leave. But Legilimency?! That's absolutely brilliant, and absolutely the one thing she couldn't have been prepared for.

I'm so eager to see where this goes. I have a feeling that it was Draco who caught her, it's adorable to see that he's already starting to soften up - just a tiny bit, but barely - around her. His comments about how she's just a girl were very powerful, as he said it's so easy to forget. And he really did seem to hit the target with asking the questions about her family and basically flat-out accusing them. It's still clear that Astoria is VERY protective and loyal to her family and will do anything to keep them safe.

And even though she's the youngest daughter, she comes across as the oldest. I'm not sure why, it could just be her controlled demeanor and the way they talk about Daphne being a fool, but I find myself forgetting that she's the youngest sibling. It's a very neat dynamic you've created here and I'm excited to see how it plays out.

Thank you for another great swap!
♥ Jill

Author's Response: Hey there! Thanks for the birthday wishes! I did have a nice day, thank you.

I'm SI glad that you aren't bored of being in the parlor! In fact, it won't be long before you leave the parlor altogether! There are actually other rooms in this fic! All kinds of rooms! I know it's hard to believe right now, but I promise it's true ;)

Draco definitely did pull one over on her. Astoria's done everything she can--she's played her hand remarkably well for a 16 year old who's suddenly been thrust into the position of the head of the family. And she's very skilled. But even so, she is still a girl. She isn't fully trained. And Draco appears to have got the jump on her. The real question is, how will she play it?

Yeah, Veritaserum is one of those annoying deus-ex-machina inventions that you always have to work around in this world. But the way I see it, we know that it takes about a month to produce, and that it's a very difficult potion to brew. It's not like they're just using it casually all the time at Hogwarts, so I figure it's a rare commodity. That's probably half the reason that Draco wound up with what, from the outside, would seem like a fairly cushy job. Snape covered for him, giving him credit for helping to defeat Dumbledore, and of course we know he's skilled at Occlumency, so it only made sense to me that he could be a skilled Legilimens. It would definitely be useful when your job is essentially performing high class interrogations.

Draco's definitely a smart opponent. Astoria had one true weakness, and he had an uncanny knack for honing in on it. I imagine it's a skill that served him well in his bullying days at Hogwarts, but now he seems caught between enjoying a good challenge and being really weary of his job. I mean, think what happens to the people he turns in. I think it's pretty clear from his worn appearance that, ordinarily, he gets no pleasure from his job, even if he has enjoyed having a respectable adversary in Astoria.

Like you point out, though, he's started to notice her as more than just an obstacle, though. He's beginning to see her as a girl, and I'm glad you liked those bits!

Astoria definitely comes across as the oldest for a reason. I'll leave judging Daphne up to you, but I think it's pretty clear that, at the least, she lacks Astoria's maturity and fortitude. She certainly frustrates Astoria, who has so much on her shoulders in part because her sister either can't or won't share the burden. But despite that, we see that she does love Daphne. She wants to protect her if she can.

Thank you for this lovely review, Jill! I'm having a great time with these swaps!

--Penny


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Review #28, by fwoopersong8 The Weight of the Curse

23rd April 2016:
Hello there! Yay, another chapter! And oh no...Unforgivables... :(

I think the most interesting part of this was when Astoria decided not to apologize. She really is very guarded. Even that's an understatement. I wonder what she thinks would happen if she showed anything that she called "weakness" -- apologizing or being friendly? It's quite an interesting aspect of her character.

I don't think I have any CC for this chapter. I'm interested to see what you do next. With the Carrows in charge and the Battle of Hogwarts coming, I have a feeling this is all going to blow up in Astoria's face.

See you soon, I hope! :) :)

~Songs

Author's Response: Hey Songs! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

Yeah, Astoria's come a long way. She's joined the D.A. in all but name, even though it goes against most of her self-preservation instincts. She's made great strides, but I thought that being vulnerable--and apologizing is being vulnerable--with someone she doesn't even know would be a bit of a stretch, at this point.

Astoria is a girl who has had to keep her emotions in check her whole life. Her mother tried to fashion Astoria after her own example, and spies have to conceal how they're really feeling. Never mind the fact that she's lived most of her life without any real confidante, outside maybe her House Elf, Filly. And, of course, the person she trusted most--her mother--betrayed her. Astoria has no real reason to suspect that sharing her feelings is a good option. The only person who has truly seen beneath the facade is Draco, after an emotionally exhausting day, and she still is horrified at *that* breach of her defenses.

Of course, no man is an island, as they say. Astoria can't keep it up forever. She has too much weight on her shoulders to bear it alone, and she's begun to care for some members of the D.A. Eventually, *something* is going to have to give, one way or another.

"With the Carrows in charge and the Battle of Hogwarts coming, I have a feeling this is all going to blow up in Astoria's face." Why Songs, what an interesting choice of words! You're closer to the truth than you probably know. If you keep an eye out through the next few chapters, though, you'll find out ;)

Thanks again, lovely! I really appreciate it!

--Penny


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Review #29, by Ohpl The Weight of the Curse

21st April 2016:
So happy to see an update. Astoria can be her own worst enemy. She is wound so tightly something is going to break. I loved the interaction with Seamus. Can't wait for more chapters.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for writing the first review I've received since hiatus! I'd almost forgotten what it feels like to see one on a new chapter! Sorry it's taken so long. You're absolutely right about Astoria--she *can* be her own worst enemy. She's a bit tied in knots right now. She's come really--her actions speak louder than her words, and she's all but joined the DA. But there's a part of her that still wants to cling to the cold, distant, pureblood persona she's used to. I'm so glad you loved the Seamus part! Thank heavens for that boy! He keeps it from getting too angsty.

She is wound pretty tightly. Either she'll have to bend, or something *will* break. We'll see which!

Thanks again!

-Penny


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Review #30, by dreamgazer220 The Malediction Perfidious

20th April 2016:
Hiya Penny! Here for our 2nd review swap :)

So, quite a long chapter! Admittedly, the word count is daunting when I looked at first, but honestly, you did amazingly with this chapter. I really liked being able to see into Draco's mind a bit, especially since you opened the chapter with it. You write him - and Astoria - so well and convincing. You just write well in general and you had my attention the entire time. It felt like I just started by the time I reached the end!

There was so much good in this chapter. I loved Pomfrey going to Snape (I'm assuming it was Snape?) for help healing her. A brilliant move, and once again, you do a fabulous job of capturing the horror within the walls of Hogwarts without going overly detailed. And I LOVE the idea of blood magic. That probably sounds warped, but it sounds so in-line with those old pureblood families, and of COURSE her mother would have a way to keep her secrets hidden. Otherwise she just wouldn't go spilling them, even to her youngest daughter!

I love how you wrote all the characters here, and I'm really beginning to enjoy this alliance between Ginny and Astoria. I hope we get to see more of them in future chapters because it really is a brilliant idea. And you do a great job of characterizing Ginny; Astoria noticing how worn she is from all of the pressure, her smuggling in things from her brothers' joke shop- it's all fantastic. And setting off dung bombs is such a Weasley thing to do, Fred and George would be so proud of their little sister :)

The other thing I love about the alliance between them is they're still sizing each other up, still not entirely convinced that they can trust each other, which is completely realistic. And hidden messages in chocolate - another amazing idea. (I'm running out of positive adjectives here!)

And as always, your style, flow, dialogue- it's all incredible and clean and easy to follow. I love it so much.

I'm so, so glad we started doing swaps together! You have a great talent and I can't wait to read more chapters in the future.

♥ Jill

Author's Response: Hey Jill!

I'm so glad that you thought the word count was okay when you got into the chapter. I used to worry about that a lot--I have some longer chapters where I thought splitting them would be detrimental. I worry sometimes that it'll scare people off, so I'm really happy that once you got started it didn't seem long!

Aww, you are so sweet!

You're right--she did go to Snape. I imagine that she did it somewhat reluctantly, but if she'd run across an emergency in the past, I think she'd have gone to Dumbledore. And Snape, despite his failings, is definitely a master potioneer. I'm really happy you think I'm capturing the horror so far without going overboard. I'm always trying to keep the balance. There are some darker chapters as I try to chart the progression of what's going on inside Hogwarts' walls, but I try to break them up with lighter moments. Usually there's a pretty small amount of real violence--it's more mental than physical.

And I don't think loving the idea of blood magic sounds warped at all! But I supposed I'm biased, since I did write it in. It just seemed natural to me that magical families that went far back would know some spells that others didn't. I imagine there are blood magic spells that could be healing, or put to great good. This one, of course, is harmful.

Lavinia is a very complicated character, and this betrayal is something that definitely affects Astoria going forward. It was one of those things that--tragic as it is--just had to happen. As you point out, it made sense that someone who was literally the Dark Lord's chief spy would have to guard her secrets. But besides that, Astoria had convinced herself that she was helping the rebels in order to avenge her mother. Now her mother has betrayed her, so that's not an option anymore. Whatever Astoria does from now on is because *she* wants to. It's on her own head. And that's pretty important to her development.

Astoria is honestly in too much emotional pain to think too much about her mother right now, but the mystery of Lavinia's death still matters. There's certainly still more to that story.

Thank you! Writing Ginny has been so fun for me. Introducing her really changed the course of this story for the better, and I've loved writing her character. I didn't want them to be best friends from the first time they met, but I think it's reasonable that they soon establish a sort of grudging rapport. They're still sizing each another up, and they aren't ready to lower their guards quite yet. But I think they definitely have a begrudging respect for one another.

Fred and George *would* be so proud!

Thank you so much for saying such lovely things! This was such an great review, and I loved our swap. Let's do it again soon!

--Penny


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Review #31, by dreamgazer220 A Dangerous Revelation

19th April 2016:
Hey there Penny! Here for our review swap ♥

So another great chapter and you manage to answer a lot of questions, but you've got that talent still of keeping me intrigued. I love the way you've chosen to tell this story- giving us flashbacks at prompts of Draco's questions, it's all very clever. And as from a previous chapter, we know that Astoria's a good actress, so I'm very curious to see how she's going to react and how well Draco will be able to read her (or not).

Going to Ginny was brilliant. You gave it such a thorough explanation as to why she was going that of course she would, who else would she go to?! And you characterized them both here so well too, with them sizing each other up and still not sure if they should trust each other. It speaks volumes of Astoria's character that she doesn't want to be labeled a hero even if the outcome is in her favor, you give us little snippets of how she's not like most Slytherins/Purebloods.

The only little thing in this chapter is that I'm not sure how Astoria sneaked into the Gryffindor tower? I would've liked to hear more description about that since I always thought the other common rooms were secrets from other houses, but it's a relatively minor detail and it doesn't lose focus on the heart of the scene.

And once again, your language, flow, and dialogue are all outstanding.

Keep up the great work!
~Jill

Author's Response: You are so on top of your review answering! It's inspiring me to try to do a better job of answering them in a timely fashion.

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the flashbacks. So far, judging from response, they've worked out, but I was definitely nervous about them in the beginning.

Haha, that's pretty much the dance of this section of the story--Astoria's acting and Draco's trying to figure her out. And a bit of the other way round.

I am THRILLED that you agree that going to Ginny was the right thing. I really thought it was the most rational solution. And then I put those two in a room together and immediately had *so much fun*. They're really great foils to each other, and there's more GInny Weasley in this story down the line.

Astoria's the type of person who is comfortable flying under the radar. You could almost say that she's shy. Despite definitely being a force of personality, she's more the "still waters run deep" type. Not only would she not want to be a hero bc she wouldn't want the attention, but she's kind of in denial that she's doing any of this. She's had it drilled into her that 'doing the right thing' is essentially irrelevant; that you do right by your family and that everyone else is on their own. At this point, she's convinced herself that she's doing this as pure revenge, bc that's easier for her to swallow. But Ginny makes a good point--if all she wanted was revenge, there were other ways. Astoria chose something that could help people. She doesn't believe Voldemort's line, and she's taken action to oppose him. And that does say something about her, however disinterested she might be in the concept of being "good".

You know, you are not the first person to make that suggestion. Initially I had left out Astoria's sneaking into Gryffindor Tower for two reasons. 1. For time--I wanted to cut to the chase. But 2, I kind of liked the mystery of it. It's no small feat, but for Astoria it's something she can manage easily. I didn't want to give away all her secrets. I do have an idea of how she did it, but I kind of liked letting the audience wonder. However, since you mention it, and someone else has as well, I am going to reconsider it.


Thank you so much for the lovely review, Jill! This swap has been so fun!

--Penny


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Review #32, by dreamgazer220 The Lady of Greengrass Hall

18th April 2016:
Hey there :) Figured I'd come back for chapter 2!

So, we learn - almost - what happened to Lavinia Greengrass. I'm really glad that you decided to jump back and tell us what happened so we know where Astoria's coming from, but you leave us with just enough to ask a million questions! Did one of the Death Eater's turn on her? What actually happened? Does that have something to do with Draco really being there?

Again, your flow, language, and writing is all quite beautiful. The chapter was the perfect length too.

It's really quite interesting that Astoria's loyalties are the ones in question here and it has something to do with what happened after her mother's funeral.

I'm curious to know more, this is definitely going on my reading list.

Keep up the great writing! ♥

~Jill

Author's Response: Hey! Thank you! Nothing is more exciting than when people tell me they liked chapter one enough to keep going with it! :D

Heeheehee. Yes, the questions. *rubs hands together gleefully* This is definitely, in part, a mystery story, and the truth behind Lavinia's death is something that will take a while to unpack. She was a woman who was much more complicated than she appeared from the outside, and her death was definitely much the same.

As far as whether Lavinia's death has something to do with Draco's appearance...yes. In a way. He'd never have shown up on Astoria's doorstep if it weren't for the events that followed Lavinia's death. If you're asking whether Draco had anything to do with her death or knows anything about it...I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. You will find out the answer later, though, at no risk to yourself ; )

Astoria's loyalties at present--at least in *her* mind--have *everything* to do with Lavinia's death.

Thank you so much, again, for this wonderful, encouraging review! It really made me smile.

--Penny





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Review #33, by dreamgazer220 An Unwelcome Visitor

18th April 2016:
Hey there, Penny!

Jill here from the forums with our swap, and thanks so much for doing it with me! I don't normally read Astoria/Draco stories (well, I just haven't really dived into them as a pairing) and I'm so glad I started reading yours.

You have such a strong opening here. I love that you started with dialogue and with a conversation between her and her mother at a young age; it's obviously an important conversation that she's going to remember and will probably play a good role in the story. It sets the tone well.

I also really liked that you jumped from Christmas Eve to Easter and over the span of a decade. You did the time jump flawlessly though. What I also enjoyed was your language and your descriptions about Draco. You didn't tell us "Astoria doesn't like him" you showed us by the way she described his appearance, his movements. One line that jumped out at me was: His presence would not leave a stain on any place she cared for. It was really powerful and descriptive, as most of your language was.

The dynamic between Astoria and Draco is obviously very tense, but I could really feel the tension between them. The silence may have dragged on, but the scene didn't, and I appreciated the appearance of Finny. It gave a nice contrast to Astoria's relationship/meeting with Draco and shows how she really is putting on a show.

I'm very curious to see where this story goes and how their relationship unfolds. You've definitely got me interested.

Great chapter and thanks again for the swap!
~Jill

Author's Response: Hi Jill!

I'm so glad you enjoyed this chapter, even though it was a new pairing to read for you! I'd never read too much Drastoria before I started TH--I had never given it much consideration, as a ship. But one day I got to thinking, "What kind of person would Astoria, who we don't know at all, have to be in order for me to love this pairing?" And that is, in part, how TH was born!

Thanks! The opening between Astoria and Lavinia definitely an important conversation. I really wanted to set the tone for their relationship--something that seems loving, but also ominous.

I was so worried about the time jumps when I started this story. I'm glad you thought it went "flawlessly" :D That is so sweet! And I'm happy that you enjoyed the description. I guess it's obvious that I really love those details, so with characters as hyper-observant as Astoria and Draco, I kind of went to town.

Navigating this conversation between them--all the silence and the tension--without letting it get dull was my number one challenge in the first chapters, so I'm really pleased that you think it stays interesting!

I'm delighted that you're interested! Thank you so much for the swap and for this lovely review!

--Penny


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Review #34, by TreacleTart The Eyes of the Crowd

27th October 2015:
Hey Penny!

I'm here for our review swap! I'm so excited that there's another chapter! Just when I was about to start going through Astoria withdrawals.

I was so happy to see Seamus in this chapter! He's one of my favorite characters and I absolutely adore how you've written him here. I always pictured him as a bit of a flirt too (or at least until the war), although I do have to say Dean/Seamus is my OTP, so in my mind he only ever has eyes for Dean even though he flirts with everyone else. Sorry. Overshare. Anyway, I thought Seamus brought a good bit of lightness to this story.

Lavender came across very childish and immature, but I always felt that way about her in cannon as well. She's very gossipy and annoying. I feel like she better be careful who she goes mouthing off at cause Astoria could wipe the floor with her in a heartbeat.

I like that you've continued Astoria's conflicted feelings. I think if she were straightforward and gung-ho about being a member it would lose that special quality.

I can feel the weight of the war creeping up and I'm getting really anxious to see how Astoria and Draco are going to get drawn back to each other and if Astoria will do anything amazing during the war to help the D.A.

As always, your writing is amazing. I didn't notice any typos or odd grammar in this chapter. Good job! Now, please tell me the next chapter is on its way soon!

~Kaitlin

Author's Response: Hey Kaitlin! I am *finally* trying to clear out my unanswered reviews. I got behind on it and now I'm finally trying to get it all sorted.

Aww! Astoria withdrawals! Well, then, I'm really sorry about my hiatus. But at least that's over now? You're so sweet. I'm so glad that you missed her.

Oh Seamus. What would I do without Seamus? Seamus is currently the comedic heart of this fic. Without him, things would be much too gloom and doom. I really enjoy writing his flirtiness and his lighthearted attitude in amongst all the angst.

Astoria wouldn't even need magic to wipe the floor with Lavender. She isn't mature, and she doesn't trust Astoria on the grounds that she's a Slytherin, but she's not the only one. Lav's just the loudest voice in the crowd.

Yeah. I worry that people will get frustrated that Astoria doesn't always jump up to help without angsting over her (many) reservations, but I just can't write her any other way. It wouldn't be true to her character progression. When she gets involved, she does it against her better instincts. Working with the D.A. is chipping away at her frostiness a bit, but that can't be a super-quick process, or it just wouldn't feel believable to me. I'm so glad that you think that, too!

The weight of the war is creeping up on *me*, that's for sure. My timeline for the weeks leading up to the Battle of Hogwarts is out of control! Well, really, it's rather strictly tied up, but there's definitely a lot that's going to happen. Things are definitely about to pick up in terms of speed and intensity.

Thank you so much, Kaitlin! Your reviews are always so enjoyable and well thought out. The next chapter is already up! And hey, if my beta approves of the chapter I just sent her, there could be another one in the queue any time now! Here's to hoping! And thanks again.

--Penny


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Review #35, by Ginny Padfoot The Eyes of the Crowd

26th October 2015:
This book is so good and I can't wait for the next chapter!

Author's Response: Thank you so much for taking the time to write that encouraging review! I've been on hiatus lately--which is also why it's taken so long to answer this review. But I'm back and the next chapter is with my beta! Thanks again!

--Penny


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Review #36, by Veritaserum27 A Dangerous Revelation

25th October 2015:
Hi there Penny!

I'm here for the third chapter of our review swap.

Okay - so confession time here. I'm a HUGE Ginny Weasley fan - a nut actually. I think she gets SUCH a bad rap in some stories and I'm always wary when she appears that she'll be misconstrued or portrayed as a helpless damsel - or worse - a Mary-Sue character.

You did not disappoint.

You totally got her S.P.O.T. on. She's tough and been dealt a bad hand. I mean really, ALL her family were allowed to fight but her. She must've felt so entirely helpless at Hogwarts that year - worried about Harry (and her parents and brothers), dealing with the Carrows, and Slytherins. But probably the worst was being accused of "knowing" things that she simply didn't. I imagine that she was driven half-mad with the culmination of all those pressures. I felt all of those things while reading this chapter. At the same time, you let Astoria's character develop as well. She wasn't just trying to avenge her mother's death, she was trying to do good, as Ginny pointed out - which was definitely something she didn't have to do. I don't entirely believe the reasons she gives to Ginny, I think deep down, Astoria knows the Dark Lord is going to lose - and she's not necessarily aligning herself against him, but rather following her own path during a time of grief.

I'm always impressed of how good Slytherins are at reading people's facial expressions and body language. They are constantly cataloging the minute meaning of a flick of the eye or a nervous tick. At the same time, I always chuckle at their awe and shock of how unguarded and blatantly honest the Gryffindors are. They see it as a weakness. You've done a fabulous job of getting them both just right - and the dynamic played well (personally, I think Ginny could take Astoria both in a duel AND wits, but I'm a bit biased).

Draco seems to be a bit too reserved in this chapter. If I recall, he was pretty much a complete mess during this time. Although we didn't get to see too much of him, the little we saw was the picture of a scared young man who was desperate to not get noticed by any of the higher-up Death Eaters. I imagine that his "act" is just another role he was forced to play in all of this. And I have to keep in mind that we are seeing him through Astoria's tainted eyes - she's already made her judgement of Draco.

CC: This was the only bit that stood out to me, here:

Though she suspected that the fiery redhead, whose friends followed her lead so willingly, was probably no halfwit, herself.

I don't think you need the comma after "halfwit."

My favorite thing about your writing is your simple yet evocative descriptions. Rather than quote entire sentences, I'm going to put up some of my favorite descriptions:

He eased the papers into alignment and shut the folder,

...wand-happy brunette...

She felt some of the chinks in her armour repair themselves.

It fluttered around the edges of her mouth, like the wings of a bird long kept in captivity,

Those are just some of my favorites. I feel like instead of simply reading your story, it's as if I'm allowed to be in the same room as your characters, almost like I'm under the invisibility cloak and watching the scene right in front of me. It's really quite remarkable.

Fantastic job with this story - I can see why it's garnered so much attention. I'm so glad we did the review swaps - and again, I apologize for taking so long to get to all of mine.

♥ Beth

Author's Response: Beth!

I ♥ you so much right now! It means the world that you think I got Ginny Weasley right. That was so important to me. I absolutely agree that she's an awesome character who sometimes gets a bad rap. But I think she's completely awesome, and I really wanted to do her justice.

Ginny definitely got dealt a bad hand, especially this year--but even back to her first. She's had some terrible things happen to her, and she always keeps soldiering on. I loved writing her. As determined as Astoria is to look down on the Gryffindors, she has to give Ginny some respect. And as much as Ginny may dislike Slytherins, she clearly sees that Astoria is a clever witch and potentially a surprisingly decent person. You're wise to disbelieve Astoria's professed motives. I'm not so sure she thinks Voldemort is going to lose--though it never hurts to have a foot in both camps, as it were. But I think she truly hates him. And I think Ginny's right--she's may be avenging her mother, but she could have done that any number of ways. And she chose to help people. And that does have to mean something.

Writing Ginny and Astoria into the same room was some of the most fun I had in ages. I don't want to spoil anything, but I *can* tell you that it led to Ginny playing a much bigger part in the story. Without that, this probably would have remained a short story or a novella, but the addition of Ginny Weasley changed things so greatly that we went into full novel mode. That's just Ginny for ya. They really do have a great dynamic. I'm not sure that, at this point, Astoria had met anyone who could challenge her so well (of course, now she's met Draco, who may also give her a run for her money. But this was some months before he and she met).

I'm gonna say I think it would depend a bit on luck. Ginny's quite smart, but Astoria's is incredibly intelligent and a strong strategist. Still, it's not as though she never makes a mistake. Either way, in a duel of minds they'd be well matched.

Thank you so much for the favorite descriptions, bit! That just warmed my heart, and it's so interesting to see what stands out to people!



"Those are just some of my favorites. I feel like instead of simply reading your story, it's as if I'm allowed to be in the same room as your characters, almost like I'm under the invisibility cloak and watching the scene right in front of me. It's really quite remarkable. Fantastic job with this story - I can see why it's garnered so much attention. "

--Beth. You're going to make me cry.

Thank you so much for these incredible reviews. They've been so encouraging. And you know I'm up for a swap anytime. I hope you're doing well, and thanks again!

--Penny


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Review #37, by Veritaserum27 The Lady of Greengrass Hall

23rd October 2015:
Hi there Penny!

I'm here with review #2 out of 3 for our swap - and I need to start off by first apologizing for a million years because it took me so long to get to this. Hopefully, this review will make up for my lateness. :(

First off - I'm in love with your CIs. They look fabulous. I haven't added any to my stories yet, but the more I see, the more I'm interested. I also really, REALLY like they way you draw us in with your quick back story at the beginning of each chapter. I wonder if this will continue throughout the novel? I hope so. I feel like you're giving us two stories - both Lavinia's and Astoria's. Sometimes that can get confusing to go back and forth, but it really works here. Your brilliant writing allows us to delineate between past and present. Also, your character development is impeccable. It's clear that Lavinia and Astoria are two separate individuals, each with their own motivation and "lot in life." While they both show strong principles, cunningness and drive, they clearly are defined by their own personalities.

The Lavinia you've given us is nothing short of amazing. I'm blown away by how much I relate to and care about this character who's ALREADY DEAD! (haha) I feel her struggles of being highly intelligent and yet held back by her station, and the fact that she turned spy mainly to occupy her brilliant mind is entirely believable and intriguing at the same time. I LOVE a female character that is strong for herself and unapologetic at that. Lavinia didn't become a spy for "the greater good" or "true love" or any of the other cliched reasons. Simply awesome.

I'm also really, really curious about Lavinia's death. Or even if she's really dead. It would have been very convenient for her to "disappear" and carry on with her... erm... career. She could use lots of techniques to conceal herself and continue to serve - well, either side, actually. Right now I'm a bit on the fence as to her death, but I'm leaning toward the fact that she is, indeed no longer in the land of the living. THAT just leads me to a whole host of other questions. Who wanted her dead - did Voldemort himself order it? I wonder if this is what Astoria is going to set her mind to figuring out.

That's a nice segue to move onto Astoria, isn't it? :) I'm really enjoying the automatic tension you've got going between her and Draco. The best part is that it's believable. Neither one is going to give away their hand and you've done such a fabulous job of showing instead of telling that I can sympathize with both of them. The story unfolds slowly and you demand your readers to be clever enough to pick up on the clues. If this is Easter Holidays, and Lavinia died during the "Seven Harry's" misdirection, then Astoria is still grieving the loss of her mother very much. At the same time Draco is most likely at his lowest point yet. There is no end in sight and his family and home have been taken over by the Dark Lord. He is at the mercy of Voldemort's every whim, with little hope. He's probably grateful for the assignment to see Astoria and the other families - it gets him out of his own personal hell for a few hours.

CC: Again, it was tricky for me to come up with something and I actually read this chapter at least three times in full. Each time this sentence struck me as awkward:

After the Dark Lord had been forced to retreat that night, bodiless, defeated, and largely presumed dead, from Godrics Hollow, Lavinia had not given up hope.

It just seems like a lot of commas and though I would never claim to be a grammarian, I'm not sure the one after "dead" is needed. Or actually, you could just take the phrase "from Godric's Hollow" right out. Most readers would know of the time and place that you're referring to. :)

I loved this line:

Honestly, Miss Greengrass, if there is one thing I doubt, it is that you are ignorant.

You give us just the merest of hints that Draco sees more than he lets on. Astoria isn't the only one who is good at reading people and playing the game of controlled emotions and carefully chosen words. In this one sentence, I found myself rooting for the pair, because it seems that she may have just found her match - even if she doesn't quite see it yet.

And I'm off to the next chapter!

♥ Beth

Author's Response: Whew! Sorry again that this is so late. I'm working my way through my unanswered reviews. If you're apologizing a million years for lateness, then I reckon I'm apologizing for at least a couple billion.

I have been so fortunate with CI's. I've found some great artists and they have done work that I absolutely love. I have to say, this one is one of my favorites!

Lavinia's story is definitely key to understanding Astoria's. She plays a huge role in shaping her daughter, and as the story continues, more and more will come about about her life--and her death. I'm so glad that you liked it and that you didn't find the switch confusing! She's a really dynamic character, and I'm so glad to see so many readers appreciate her. She's done some very bad things, but it's worth reading into the situation a little bit, I feel. Where Lavinia Greengrass is concerned, there's always something more to the story.

Astoria identified the body herself, as her father was incapable, so she is pretty sure that her mother is dead. But she's asking a lot of the same questions you are asking.

Astoria and Draco are meeting in a very dark time for both of them. You're absolutely right--both of their worlds have fallen apart, and they're each clinging by their fingernails, trying to hide the fact. Right now, both of them see the other as an obstacle, maybe a bit of a challenge, but as something they need to overcome.

Thank you for the CC! You're right, that IS a lot of commas. I've played with it before after getting CC, but somehow I can never get it just right. Thanks for your suggestions. I'll try to take another whack at it when I get a chance.

:D I'm so glad that you loved that line. I'm fond of it. We find out a lot more about Draco's thoughts as time goes on, but I really enjoyed writing that hint that Astoria Greengrass might--just might--have met her match, just as you say!

Thank you so much for this ABSOLUTELY LOVELY review. Your reviews have been some of my all-time favorites! Especially coming from a writer as good as yourself, they truly mean a lot.

--Penny









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Review #38, by cherry_pop94 The Eyes of the Crowd

21st October 2015:
Hello again Penny!

Ah, this chapter was marvelous like always! I really enjoyed this look into the dynamics of their group. I think Astoria's right about the little council thing they've got set up with the houses. And though she probably wouldn't admit it, Astoria's the Slytherin representative.

I think you've written all the characters here really well - and there were so many of them! I particularly enjoyed Astoria's inner thoughts, especially when Amara showed up. It really was so emotional at that part. I would love to know more about Amara. Astoria's right about her, that's true bravery.

Seamus was a great bit of comedic relief in all this! I love him so much and I do hope there's more of him! He's a delight. I wonder, do Luna and Dean still get caught in the Malfoy cellar then? Because in canon Luna was there since Christmas and I don't think they'd be out yet...

Oh well. I love them both so much, I'm just thrilled that they're here. I can't wait to read more of this Penny! I hear you're doing NaNo! Good luck on that :)

Stefanie

Author's Response: Stefanie!

I'm so sorry! I've been gone for far too long, and am only just answering this review now. It, like all your reviews, meant so much to me.

You're absolutely right that Astoria's the Slytherin representative. By necessity, at this point, but quickly becoming a huge asset . And you're also right that she wouldn't want to admit or acknowledge it. Astoria's in this against her better judgment, and she likes to maintain the illusion that she could pull up stakes and leave at any time, even if she knows in her heart that she couldn't ; )

But really! There are so many characters! That's been the hardest thing to balance in these chapters with the D.A. Before, it was only a handful of characters at a time, but now there are dozens of people to keep up with in my head when I'm writing a scene! So I am really glad you thought it went well! It's a relief.

Oh Seamus, what would I do in this angst-ridden story without you? There is definitely more Seamus--he's great fun to write, and he keeps things from getting so terribly intense all the time.

As to your question about Dean and Luna, this story does keep with canon, but I consider both the books and the movies canonical sources. When they diverge, I just go with whatever suits the story best. Dean and Luna are already out of the Malfoy's cellar, since they were rescued when Harry & Co. broke them out over Easter holidays, which is vaguely mentioned in...I believe it's chapter 7 of Traitorous Hearts. That's why Draco's been separated from the family and is with the second army in the Forbidden Forest, and why Lucius & Narcissa are basically in disgrace--they let Harry Potter himself right out from under their noses.

In the movies, after Dobby's burial, Luna declares that she's going back to Hogwarts, so that's the way I decided to go. I thought it only natural that Dean would accompany her.

Thanks so much for your lovely reviews! I've been on hiatus, but I'm back now, and there's a new chapter in the queue that should be up anytime! I hope you're well!

--Penny


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Review #39, by cherry_pop94 The Edge of Insanity

21st October 2015:
Penny! I'm finally back! I'm so happy to have two chapters of this to read now!

This was a great chapter. I loved the bit with Draco. Seeing her in the window, replaying her memories. I mean, the memory thing is a terrible invasion of privacy and Astoria would hate it, but I can't help but love Draco Malfoy here. I ship them so hard.

I also think you've perfectly characterized Aberforth here! He's grumpy, a little resentful, he's got a touch exterior, but underneath, he does care. And he'll always care. Astoria's speech to him though was scathing! I love when characters speak in great monologues, though they are so daunting to write.

And speaking of Astoria, she was phenomenal in this chapter. All her lines are gold. I could just picture the way she popped out of nowhere and just stole the show. There's something very dramatic about her, but also she's quite understated. I'm just talking nonsense now... Like Draco, Astoria drives me to insanity too.

Her last line was particularly marvelous. "It's really more of an army." I love that so much. I think that might be my favourite line in all of this.

I'm on to the next chapter now!

Stefanie

Author's Response: Stefanie! I'm back too, answering another review after absolute ages. I've been so remiss with these, and I'm sorry!

Yay! I'm so glad that you ship them. I love them, too. Yeah, the memory thing is def an invasion of privacy, but what would a romance between two morally grey characters be if no one did anything dodgy once in a while, am I right? And, I mean, he knows he shouldn't, but his motives are pure...Well, you know, for Draco they're pretty pure. He wants to know her better, and it's not as if he can just call her up. And he also just wants an escape from how miserable his situation is. She's been the one bright spot in his life, of late, the one thing that inspired him to be brave!

Just typing that out is making me ship them more ;')

Whoo, so happy you liked Aberforth. I know I worked really hard trying to get the voices right in this chapter, and to stay true to their characterization in the books/films.

I'm really, really glad you liked Astoria's monologue--that was a labor of love. I really wanted her to have this strong moment where she really called things out, and sort of realized what she had to do in the process. Girl called her own self out, so from there she had to back up her own talk.

And no, you're absolutely right about Astoria. She likes to stay in the shadows most of the time, but that doesn't mean she doesn't like to make a splash, as well. She's a study in contrasts. I wanted her to be a character that's a bit hard to pin down. She's also changing right now, of course--she's really growing and coming into her own. But you never completely know what to expect with Astoria--she defies predictability and that's one of the things I love about writing her.

That LINE! I am THRILLED that you liked it. There was something about that that I just loved, the entire time I was working on the chapter. For me, it felt like the perfect punctuation to the chapter, and I am SO, SO excited that it stood out for you.

Thank you again, Stefanie! I cannot tell you how much your reviews inspire me.

--Penny


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Review #40, by MuggleMaybe The Eyes of the Crowd

18th October 2015:
Hi Penny!

This was so so good! Astoria is her superb self, as usual, and you've captured all the others just brilliantly. Especially Seamus. I was LOVING him! (Although, I don't think he's going to have much luck flirting with Astoria.)

I can understand why Astoria doesn't feel comfortable being a full-fledged member of the DA, but it makes me said for her because I think she's truly a good person, but she doesn't operate based on that goodness. She operates based on logic and mistrust, and Lavender is taking that quality and throwing it right back in her face. I think it would be quite interesting if Lavender did See something to do with Astoria, for the record. ;)

You are seriously SUCH a talented writer, Penny! :wub: Looking forward to chapter 16!
xoxo Renee

Author's Response: Hey Renee! Thank you so much for this lovely review!!! *hugs*

Haha, I love writing Seamus so much! And no, he probably won't. But somehow I think Seamus will soldier on ;) He really *does* flirt with everyone.

I think Astoria is a far better person than she thinks she is. A lot of that has to do with her being raised to think having a "hero" mindset was weak. But another part is that, in some ways, she sees herself rather clearly. She knows she can be selfish and harsh and a liar. And those things aren't good. But other people are that way, too. It's sort of an internalized prejudice. She's a Slytherin, and everyone knows what the other Houses thing of Slytherin. What they say. The prideful part of Astoria thinks that it's more practical not to be "good", but there's also a part of her that kind of thinks she couldn't be good, even if she tried.

Lavender is pretty much the polar opposite of Astoria. She's driven by emotion, whereas Astoria is primarily logical. She's being a jerk, for sure, but the D.A. has already been burned once, and like I said, anti-Slytherin prejudice is pretty strong. Still, it really sucks for Astoria, who really is trying to help.

*Reads line about Lavender Seeing something to do with Astoria* *smiles enigmatically*

Aw, thank you so much, Renee! For your review, for saying such lovely things, and for answering my question when I PMed you about the chapter length. You are an absolute gem!

--Penny


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Review #41, by Veritaserum27 An Unwelcome Visitor

17th October 2015:
Hi Penny!

I'm here for the fist chapter of our review swap (finally - I'm so sorry)!

I love the little vignette at the beginning of the story. It helped to set the tone that Astoria grew up with Pureblood values running through her family to their very core. They were taught from a young age that being cunning and ambitious were a part of life.

The time period that you chose to start the story is awesome. Most Astoria/Draco stories are set after the war is over - and many of them take place several years later. This is fascinating, because I feel like I'm right in the thick of it and I know the Final Battle is about to take place in a few weeks time and you've done a good job of keeping that underlying tension of the imminent clash between Harry and Voldemort running through this chapter. Well done!

Astoria is the perfect Pureblood daughter - not revealing a hint of any underlying emotion, and always on the lookout for what Draco's true intentions may be. However, I enjoyed that the Point of View was hers, and that was rather necessary for two reasons: First off, we don't know anything about Astoria's character from the books, so you have to spend some time developing it for your readers, and secondly, because the Slytherins are so DARN SNEAKY, it would be impossible for the reader to discern all the hidden meanings of the word choices as well as the plotting going on by both Draco and Astoria.

It's no surprise to me that Draco looks so ill at this point. He's been under duress with the "houseguests" at Malfoy Manor. Hopefully, these two can will actually talk to each other at some point and realize that they BOTH have allegiances in the same place - with their immediate families only. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this couple finds solace in each other.

Austerity in ones tea additives had never struck her as admirable, but then, a Death Eater like Malfoy would prefer something bitter, wouldnt he?

Ah... it seems we've a long way to go before these two consider each other as anything more than fellow Slytherins, huh?

This first chapter had everything it needed. It introduced the characters, set the time period, and gave us some conflict. Also, there's a bit of a mystery looming about with what exactly happened to Lavinia. Also, I think it's a good length. Many readers get intimidated by long chapters and I think it's wise to have a few introductory chapters that are shorter to draw them in. :)

CC: I really like how you set up your reviews and I thought I'd copy your style of leaving CC at the end. There really isn't much to put in this chapter because it was great! There were only two spots that stood out to me, but I'm going to give the caveat that I know these are super nit-picky.

She had thought to let him begin the conversation, but he wasnt, and she felt that if she allowed the oppressive silence to continue she would blurt out something she oughtnt to.

I don't think you need the word "to" on the end of that sentence. It's a preposition (I know, I do it all the time), but the sentence sounds just fine without it.

The other cc I have is to perhaps add a little of Astoria's feelings toward her mother in the first section. She comes across as an inquisitive child, but I think that if you added a sentence or worked it into part of a sentence about how Astoria wanted to please her Mummy or that she looked up to her, it might pack more of an emotional punch when we learn later on that her mum died in some way that had to do with aligning themselves with Voldemort. It would also let the reader be more understanding as to why Astoria is wary of Draco. Again, it's not a big thing at all, and the story reads just fine the way it is, I just thought of it as I was doing my second read-through.

Anyway, thanks so much for the swap! I'm off to the next chapter!

♥ Beth

Author's Response: Hey Beth!

I'm sorry I'm just now getting to responding to these reviews! They've been some of my favorites on the whole story. I love seeing you're perspective, and you're so thoughtful.

Yeah, I love the time period of this story. I didn't read that many Drastorias before I started writing it, but most of the ones I did were like you say--after the war. And in all of them, Astoria was either this terrible shrew standing in the way of Draco's romance with someone else, or she was a bundle of light and innocence, whom the war hadn't touched at all, and she kind of just...*existed* in order to be Draco's refuge. Which, none of that made any story inherently bad! I enjoyed several. But when I was thinking about what kind of person did *I* thought Astoria would have to be, for them to match up as well, I really wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted someone who was maybe a little braver than Draco, and who *could* inspire him a bit. But I also wanted her to really get him. I wanted Astoria to understand the urge to hide, or to go along with the flow for self-preservation. I wanted her to be clever and cunning with Slytherin instincts, and maybe be a little morally ambiguous, but to still very clearly have a lot of good inside her. And, most of all, I wanted her to be a part of this war, too. To have her own memories of it, her own involvement, her own things to deal with. You just know that this war shaped their whole generation, and it didn't seem right for her not to be a part of it, too.

Haha, yes. I definitely had to wrestle with that in these chapters--when to give whom a POV, to make sure that the audience was able to see beyond what was happening in the conversation, and to make sure they were in the right head to get the most important bits of any one scene.

I love--LOVE--that you pointed out that their allegiances are with their families at this point. They care about the people they love, and screw everyone and everything else. It's one of the main things that unites them, and I think you are the first person to comment on it this early in the story! :D

Thank you so much for taking the time to do CC! I really appreciate it! Because of spoilery things, I don't think I can work out Astoria thinking too much about her relationship with her mother in this chapter without giving something away. But you make a good point! If I could, that would be a great way to give the audience a window into Astoria's true feelings. I did delete the "to" after "oughtn't", though. I don't know for sure, but I think that was a bit of a colloquialism from my region sneaking in--I live in the Southern United States, and it's about the only place where I still hear Americans even using that word. But we say things like, "He oughtn't to have done that, bless his heart," with a little bit of a drawl ; ) Around here it's almost always followed by a "to", but you're right. Astoria is very precise, and very on edge, mentally. I doubt she'd be relaxing her grammar much at this point in the story.

Thank you so much for this lovely review! And sorry again that I've been so late in responding to it!

--Penny


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Review #42, by Rumpelstiltskin The Lady of Greengrass Hall

13th October 2015:
Hello!

Fancy chapter image you have, there :).

Wow, first of all I *loved* the backstory for Lavinia Greengrass! I love how she used her position and her abilities to become a spy for Voldemort, and earn a rank amongst the Death Eaters. This line, "Secrets were spilled before women like seed before birds" was lovely as well, and emphasized how easy it was for her to obtain information by way of mere gossip! Her loyalty is noteworthy, and I can definitely see why Astoria feels bilked.

Of course, she's terribly angry -- her mother's dead, someone who had confided in her for years. I feel for her, I really do. I can only imagine that the form of compensation she's looking for from Draco is assistance in her plot against the Death Eaters.

This is very exciting!

-Rumpel

Author's Response: Hey Rumpel! Congratulations on your 600 reviews! That is so awesome!

Isn't the chapter image *gorgeous*?! katharos @ TDA is brilliant. I was so excited when I saw it. Frankly, I'm still fangirling. That *smoke*! :D

Yay! Lavinia is a really interesting character to write, and I'm so excited that you liked her backstory. She's very complex, and she casts a long shadow over the story, even though she's dead the entire time. OOoh! I love knowing what quotes people enjoy. It's fun to see what people pick out. Thank you!

I think Astoria's anger is very understandable. Most people would have an angry phase after a parent's death--it's part of the mourning process. But not only did her mother die, and not only was the news broken to her family in a very coldhearted manner, but then she figures out that her mother was probably *murdered*?! And that it was an inside job? Yeah. Astoria has a lot to be angry about. I'm glad to hear that you could understand her anger and feel for her loss.

At this point, Astoria isn't really looking for help. She's looking to survive, and she sees Draco as a threat. Which, to be fair, he is. However, what actually unfolds...

Well, I really couldn't say ;)

Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by, and for this lovely review. And congratulations again on hitting such a big reviewing milestone! That's so fantastic!

--Penny


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Review #43, by greenbirds The Writing On the Wall

5th October 2015:
I DO NOT bat my eyelashes.

I was talking about Potter.

i literally laughed out loud at that! there are many witty, humorous writers at hpff, but you've managed to encompass such a rowling-esque type of humour- british (fitting for the characters), quite dry, and you know, i can imagine ginny having that conversation. which is such a testament to your talent as a writer- same goes for draco, especially his "brawn over brains" line. absolutely amazing- i ADORE traitorous hearts! it's amazing, it's brilliant, it's perfect. i'm so glad i decided to give it a read- usually i stay within the realm of next/gen rom-coms (which clearly this isn't) but there's such an essence of jk rowling's tone within your writing, i'm in love.

and astoria! what a GREAT character! i WISH i could write a character like how you've portrayed her! i love love LOVE how you've set up the dynamics between her and draco- the two teenagers caught up in this very adult war, it's spellbinding. i just couldn't be happier i have a few more chapters to read.

also- love astoria's scenes with ginny. there's a real sense of girl power (although the term 'girl power' seems perhaps a bit too adolescent, almost spice girls-esque for these two) between these contrasting, but ultimately very similar characters. and i love how you've portrayed ginny- again, so faithful to her portrayal in the books, especially how you've written her persepective on /that/ chamber of secrets scene. scenes? i'm exhausted, sorry. just brilliant.

Author's Response: Hi!

So, your review absolutely made my day. I'm sorry that it took me so long to respond to it--things have been a bit crazy around her of late, but thank you SO much!

I'm glad that you like the humor, and I'm SO excited that you think it fits in with JK's style. That's just such an incredible compliment and I'm so honored. With Astoria, I knew the humor couldn't exactly be slapstick--it just wouldn't fit her character or her circumstances. But I didn't just want it to be grim and gloomy without some jokes, even if they were drier than the Sahara desert.

Heehee, and that's one of my favorite lines :D

Honestly, I'm just so overwhelmed. Like, I don't even know HOW to give this a proper response other than to say "Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!" over and over again. But I shall make an attempt!

Ack! i'm so happy that you love my baby. She's so fun to write, though definitely a challenge. I originally had her as a total anti-heroine, but as time went on I realized how much better a person she is than she *thinks* she is. Astoria has been told all her life that she fills a certain stereotype--she's a Slytherin: ruthless, cunning, intent on saving her own neck. She's been told that she can't be a hero, and has been taught to look at "heroic" people with disdain, as idealists and hopeless romantics. But obviously a lot has happened to make her question her upbringing. She's still got a long way to go, but so far it's been a really fun journey for me, and I'm glad to see that you've enjoyed it as well!

Writing her and Draco has been fun, too, because it's definitely been a bit of a slow burn romance. They're separated by necessity and by distrust, but they are also pulled together by those things. I love getting to explore how these two kids, who have been forced to grow up very suddenly, face war in different ways.

Astoria's scenes with Ginny are some of my favorites. I knew as soon as I first wrote them into a room together that, oh, this was going to be fun. They kind of surprised me with how well they played off of each other, and it's made a huge difference in the trajectory of the story. And haha, I think girl power, works, though I see your point about the Spice Girls ;)

Ginny is another delight to write. I loved her character, but the movies never did do her justice, and even in the books we only ever got glimpses of her. So taking her character and getting to kind of flesh it out has been an absolute delight! This chapter was so important to me--it's one of my absolute favorites--because so much happens in it. I wanted to explore exactly what heading Dumbledore's Army meant to Ginny, why she was willing to put herself in so much danger, and what was driving her. Because the truth is that it wasn't just "bravery". Ginny has as much a vendetta against Voldemort as anyone, save perhaps Harry. He tried to destroy her, and she came out stronger. Getting to really show that was so important to me. And then, of course, Ginny's strength gives Astoria a reason to question what she's always thought about what it means to be "good". Ginny isn't weak. She has a reason--not so different than Astoria's own reason, when Astoria first thrown into all this--to be fighting the Death Eaters. Astoria has always thought that Slytherins were kind of on their own, the only sensible people, but she can respect Ginny. And really, that kind of changes everything.

I'm just still absolutely giddy to hear that you liked the story so much. There's a new chapter in the queue, so that should be up soon if you're interested. Thank you so much for writing this lovely review. I can't even tell you how encouraging it is. You've made me smile so much.


--Penny





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Review #44, by rover_bond007 The Edge of Insanity

30th September 2015:
This has been on my to-read list for ages, but I only just got round to it. Now can't believe it took me so long - this is one of the best things I've read on here for ages! Can't wait to see how the story continues :D

Author's Response: Hi! Thank you so very much! That really means a lot to me. Thanks for reading this story. I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying it and looking forward to more. The next chapter is with my beta now and should hopefully be in the queue soon! Thanks again for taking the time to write a review. It's really encouraging and I truly appreciate it! :D

--Penny


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Review #45, by Felpata Lupin The Malediction Perfidious

26th September 2015:
Hello, Penny!

So, I decided to read another chapter now, because this story is too intriguing to let go! And wow! What a chapter!!!

I loved the bit of Draco's perspective at the beginning, really helped to empathize with his exaustion and resignation. I loved his receptiveness and how Astoria's impassibility puzzled him. And I loved his bitterness and all the little details like the china set. I think he and Astoria have more in common than they both realize...

Also, the Dark Mark thing... Death Eaters are coming? This can't be good... I wonder what will happen...

Oh, I can't believe her mother would do that! Or maybe I can... When you started talking about this pain, I immediatly thought back to the childhood memory at the very beginning of the story, when Astoria asks Lavinia what would happen if she revealed her secrets...

I like the concept behind the Curse, its subtlety because, in contrast to the Unbreakable Vow, it doesn't require consent, and the fact that it can be performed only on a relative. I can't imagine how horrible it must've been for Astoria to learn that her mother would do this to her!

And last but not least, Ginny! I love her portrayal of her! And it's kind of amusing to see her through Astoria's biased eyes, because while she see a reckless and silly girl, we see a smart and brave young woman who can hold her ground and knows how to obtain her goals. And I really love her strenght!

Another great chapter! Can't promise you I'll be back soon, but be sure that I'll be back! ;)

Many hugs and much love!
Chiara

Author's Response: Hey!

Oh, thank you! That is so nice of you, and I'm just so glad that you wanted to read more *and* that you took the time to review!

Astoria and Draco have a ton in common. A lot of Drastoria stories that I've seen (I mean, I haven't read all that many, but from what I've gathered) have Astoria being Draco's opposite--this ray of sunshine and sweetness and hope. And I think that can definitely work, but I wanted to do the opposite of that. I wanted Astoria to be someone who could really understand Draco, who knew what the war had been like firsthand. They aren't exactly the same--at the end of the day, I'd say that Astoria is naturally more secretive than Draco. He's closed off by circumstance; she's closed off by personality. She's also braver than he is, and she inspires him to find his own bravery.

But they both love their families and put them first. They are constantly worried for their loved ones' safety. Neither of them finds it easy to put themselves in danger; their natural instinct is self-preservation. They are both very observant, and about equal in intelligence. That's my favorite thing--how they spar. Neither of them has every found anyone that kept up so well with them, and it definitely makes an impression.

You caught that, hmm? Good job! I think some people missed that bit amidst ALL the stuff that happens in this chapter, or at least they didn't comment on it. But yes, someone is coming. And no, it is NOT good ;)

"Oh, I can't believe her mother would do that! Or maybe I can..."
--the constant dilemma when it comes to Lavinia Greengrass! Astoria suffered through much the same thing. She's logical enough that she *knows* who it had to be, but her heart doesn't want to believe it, because she loved her mother fiercely. All I can tell you is that there is more to the story.

Thank you! The curse was fun to create. Which sounds terrible, but I mean...it was interesting...as an academic exercise and--Guys, I'm a Slytherin! It can't be helped ;)

But it was so devastating for Astoria.

Ginny! I love Ginny! I'm so GLAD that you are loving Ginny! And I'm glad that you pointed out Astoria's bias, because she's definitely in no way a perfect narrator. She's got a definite anti-Gryffindor prejudice, and I wanted that to show. But Astoria does begin to question her beliefs. She sees that Ginny is a powerful player in this game, and she does respect her, even if it is rather reluctantly.

Thank you SO MUCH for this review! It's just lovely and I really appreciate it. Talk to ya soon!

--Penny


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Review #46, by Felpata Lupin A Dangerous Revelation

22nd September 2015:
Wow! This is always more intriguing! Penny, you are seriously an amazing writer!!!

I love your take on Ginny! She is smart and strong and a leader, and I love that.

I loved the exchange between the two girls, how they evaluate each other, how wary, yet straightforward they both are.

I also agree with Ginny that there is more to Astoria's actions than simple revenge. I think she is a hero, even if she doesn't want to be recognized as such.

Another awesome chapter! I will definitely be back for more soon!!!

Thank you so much for the swap and all my love!
Chiara

Author's Response: Aww! Chiara, thank you!

Ginny is so fun for me to write. As soon as I wrote those two into a room together and saw how fun their interactions were, I knew there had to be more. Astoria is capable of talking around a subject endlessly--that's her training--but there's a part of her that really craves frankness, and Ginny is such a straight shooter. It's refreshing. Plus, they are opposites, but in that Slytherin vs. Gryffindor two-sides-of-the-same-coin way. They've been able to get through most of their education thinking the worst of the others' house, but suddenly they're meeting someone that challenges their expectations. Astoria has always thought Gryffindors were fools, but Ginny is clearly quite clever. Ginny has always thought Slytherins were too cowardly to take a risk, but Astoria shows that, with the right motivation, Slytherins are capable of acts of great courage. It's one conversation, but it's a huge catalyst towards changing ideas on both sides.

Astoria has pretty complicated ideas about "heroism". She doesn't see herself as a hero because (A) she knows her motivations aren't totally pure, and she thinks that a hero's would be, and (B) she's been trained not to *want* to be a hero. All her life, she'd have been told that heroes are foolish idealists who stick their necks out and die for it. When something like that is drilled into you, it doesn't change that quickly.

But I'm glad that you realize that Astoria does have some good, even heroic, tendencies, even though she's as Slytherin as it gets :D

Thank YOU so much for the swap. It's always a pleasure, and I hope to be back to The Lark and the Nightingale soon as well!

--Penny


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Review #47, by Felpata Lupin The Lady of Greengrass Hall

22nd September 2015:
Here for the second chapter of our swap (sorry for the lateness, I really couldn't get to it sooner...)

Lavinia had quite a story indeed! I found it really interesting the way she found herself involved with the Death Eaters, not because of ideology but simply to follow her own nature and talents that were supposed to be a male prerogative.

I also loved the structure of the family. It's sort of endearing the relationship between Lavinia and Felix, how they grew affectionate to each other over the years even if their marriage was only for interest.

Astoria's rage at her mother's death is very much understandable. And from what you tell us it is quite clear that the "unfortunate incident" wasnt an incident at all...

Now I wonder, what is this secret Astoria has been made aware of? And obviously, I'm also very curious about how this meeting with Draco will turn out... I've found their interactions so far absolutely fascinating!!!

Well, now I'm off to the third chapter! See you in a bit!
All my love,
Chiara

Author's Response: She does, doesn't she! Lavinia is an interesting character to write, because she's so ruthless, but still kind of sympathetic. She'll do anything to achieve her ends, and she won't really let whether it's "right" or "wrong" get in the way--or, at least, she'll convince herself that the good (getting what she deserves, feeling fulfilled) outweighs the bad (erm...Voldemort).

But then, of course, it honestly is sad that she's so hemmed in, that her society kept her from putting her talents to any *good* use for no good reason other than "it simply isn't done".

Yay! I'm glad that you liked the Greengrass' backstory. I wanted it to be clear that Lavinia did feel love, even if she made some bad decisions, and she loved Felix very much. It's just that she needed someone who could appreciate what she did, and Felix couldn't be that person. He'd always love her, but she couldn't earn his esteem--he gave it freely. And she wanted so badly to earn something of her own.

What is the secret? Muahaha. This whole story is just secrets on secrets on secrets.

I'm glad that you find their interactions intriguing. It's working! I get to laugh evilly again. MUAHAHAHA!

Thanks again!

--Penny




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Review #48, by Felpata Lupin An Unwelcome Visitor

22nd September 2015:
Oh, my, Penny!
I can see why this was nominated for the Dobbys! And it is only the first chapter!!!

I love your writing, your word choosing and sentence structures, your description! Just brilliant!!!

And wow! The way you write Astoria is just brilliant too! I loved how she and Draco interact, so... Pureblood-y. I loved how her every move is thought out, planned, how she keeps the appearences, starting from her dress choice to the way she treats her house elf.

It's interesting to see Draco through her eyes. The poor boy, I can't help but feel sorry for him...

Astoria's mother must've been an interesting woman too! Oh, that little glimpse of Astoria's childhood at the beginning was just adorable... I'm very intrigued. What happened exactly? What is this "unfortunate incident"? WWhat's going to happen between Draco and Astoria now?

I think I'll cut here with this review, so I can read on... :)

Brilliant opening, anyway! So intriguing and so wonderfully written!

Much love,
Chiara

Author's Response: Chiara! Sorry I'm so late in responding to these. You're always so on the ball when it comes to review responses. I have to work on catching up to you!

Oh, thank you! That is so sweet! Thank you so MUCH!

Heehee, I loved getting to write in a way that was very old-fashioned. My headcanon is that Pureblood society would be very formal and stuck-in-the-past, the logic being that wizards prize older things: quills, carriages, torches and lanterns, etc. So the people who consider themselves, for lack of a better term, the "wizardy-est" would probably cling to older things for much longer. Therefore, I thought I'd give them speech patterns more appropriate to the 1890's than the 1990's.

Aw, Draco. I'm glad that you feel sorry for him. It's always interesting to see what people initially say about Draco, because people come into the story with such firm ideas about him--whether they like him or hate him. I feel sorry for him, too. I didn't want to erase the fact that he's been involved in some terrible things, but I did want to show that it wears on him, that he's utterly miserable as a Death Eater.

The unfortunate incident--dun dun DUN!

What will happen indeed?

Thank you so much, chicadee!

--Penny



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Review #49, by MadiMalfoy In Dark Spaces

22nd September 2015:
PENNY I DO NOT HAVE WORDS FOR THIS. ALSO SORRY ABOUT THE HUGE DELAY IN GETTING THIS REVIEW TO YOU, I GOT SUPER BUSY WITH SCHOOL AND WANTED TO MAKE SURE I REALLY TOOK TIME WITH THIS.

Anyway, can I just say how absolutely stunning and breath-taking your writing was in these last two chapters?? Your descriptions of scenes and emotions were so unbelievable that I legitimately visualized everything in my head as I read on. I don't usually do that when I read fan fiction. But this, this has got me HOOKED and really into it! I actually like that you didn't split the chapter--I think it would have been far too short in relation to all of your other chapters, and there's beautiful character development in the latter half of this chapter that really fits here to juxtapose the opening scene in the broom cupboard.

In chapter nine I quite enjoyed the scene with Draco in the Forbidden Forest--it was just enough of a glimpse to see how things are going for him/what he's doing and also how he feels about the situation (read: LIE) he created with the Greengrasses and Astoria specifically and how he has to determine the best way to handle it once the real battle comes to Hogwarts. You've got his character down pat, and last chapter really exemplifies that. Loving it!! Astoria's characterization is just so complex yet simple at the same time, I can't get enough of it! She's like an mystery that looks solvable and easily manipulated when in reality she's this entirely unknown enigma that Draco wouldn't even begin to know how to piece together. You've done a seriously great job with your characterizations in general too--Amycus Carrow instills fear like no other in me, and I feel Neville's hopelessness like a dagger in my heart, and Astoria's confusion and frustration so much.

As far as the flow goes, like I said above I think you should keep the chapter length as is. Your transition from the end of chapter nine to the beginning of this chapter is smooth and is very logical. The different snapshots of Hogwarts life from Astoria's POV was done fantastically because the situations are all so different yet similar at the same time because of her conflicting feelings. They really paint a picture of how life is at Hogwarts now and the internal battle being waged within the castle by the DA and the Carrows, mirroring Astoria's internal battle as well.

The balance between Draco/Astoria's POV seems pretty good to me--as Astoria is your main character, she should have more anyway, but you strike a good balance to give insight to things happening she isn't around to see/be apart of. Draco is definitely intrigued by her and how she managed to make him lie to the Dark Lord for her and her family, and I think that will play a major role in how things play out once everything comes to a head. Astoria definitely has mixed feelings about him because she doesn't truly know what made him lie to keep her and her family safe, but she also knows she's now indebted to him, which she hates. So she has to devise a way to pay back her debt and also figure out his reasons for lying for her family. It's all very complex and nothing is clear cut for these two, which not only makes things fun and interesting, but also showcases your talented writing skills!

Seriously Penny, such good chapters!!! I can't wait to read the next couple!! ♥
~MadiMalfoy x

Author's Response: Hello there! Finally--FINALLY--I am answering this review. I'M sorry for the delay in that, so think nothing of it. I understand. We all just get crazy busy. Me included :D

AW! Madi, thank you SO MUCH! That really means a lot to me. I put so much effort into the descriptions, especially in those chapters, that it makes me so excited to hear that it's paying off and that you could see it all. I'm a super visual person. I was in theatre for a long time, so everything in my head has to play out like a staged show or a movie--I have to be able to see it all when I write, and I want people to be able to picture it when they read my writing. I'm so incredibly happy that you did! :D

And thanks for affirming the decision to not split the chapter. That's what I thought, too, that the character development just flowed better with both scenes in the same chapter. But getting that feedback helps.

Plus, I just love when elegant, put-together Astoria, who has managed to keep her cool through so much, is stabbing her mashed potatoes like an angry child. It's one of the reasons I love this chapter.

Thank you! I'm so excited that you think I got Draco's characterization right. He's a tricky one, because I wanted to make him more sympathetic without pretending that he's been some great person. He's such a prat much of the time, but I wanted to lend him some of the complexity that I knew had to be there, and I'm really just so glad that you think it's working!

"She's like an mystery that looks solvable and easily manipulated when in reality she's this entirely unknown enigma that Draco wouldn't even begin to know how to piece together."
--I LOVE this description of Astoria! This is so great!

Ick. Amycus. He grossed me out almost as much as Fenrir Greyback. When I've freaked myself out, that's when I guess I know I've gotten it where it needs to be. *shivers*

Okay, I'm relieved to know that you felt that Astoria and Draco's POV's are balanced enough at this point. I agree with you that Astoria is the protagonist, which *is* why she has more face time, but I don't want readers to feel like Draco is getting left in the dust. Problem is, he's kind of sulky and miserable right now, and less is happening on his end, so I only want to subject them to so much of that. But I don't want him to get totally outweighed. It's a problem for the next set of chapters. Until Something Happens on Draco's end to change his trajectory, there's only so much of him that I can show, but I do want to strike some sort of balance. I'm glad to know that, for now, it's working :)

You really just summarize all this so well. You totally get how complex Astoria's feelings about Draco are, which makes me happy. The poor girl. No one ever just does nice things for her, do they? Although, as a rule, not trusting Death Eaters is probably a good way to go. [I can see Ginny here, like, GINNY: "Hey! I invited her along on an exciting mission! That was nice!" ASTORIA: "Yes. Dangerous, death defying stunts are my favourite. So nice."]

Thank you so, so much for your fantastic review! I really appreciate it! ♥

--Penny


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Review #50, by manno_malfoy A Changing Tide

18th September 2015:
FIRST OF ALL! WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT FIERCE ASTORIA WITH A FIRE POKER? DO YOU SEE HER?! OH MY GOD! Okay, now that we've got that out of the way.

"It was as though she were a marionette, with all the responsibilities stringing her upright suddenly sliced through."

"Not the mundane sort of magic that had run in the veins of their families for centuries, but an indomitable force of will."


There were multiple beautiful passages in this chapter, but these two are my favourite. There was an overpowering sense of vulnerability in the second half of the chapter that, I suppose, gave you more of a chance to craft sentences that really do appeal to emotions. All the pretences were off, and they both were finally saying what they mean. For a brief while, they were just two young people in a room, caught in a dilemma too huge and complex for their age.

The way you made Draco waver so gradually until that moment in the end when he let her go was fantastic. It started out with Draco admiring her wits (all the way in the beginning of the story), to his stopping her from saying Voldemort's name (in a most admirable manner too, I must say. My Drastoria-loving heart quivered in admiration!), then it went onto an honest conversation where he confessed to how little control he had over matters, to her begging him to exercise whatever little influence he had to the fullest. The sequence of events made things so realistic and it all went so smoothly.

Your description of Fenrir was so magnificent. You went beyond describing how he looked and it just brought him to life and really scared me. I don't know how Astoria kept herself together, but it made me agree with Draco. She probably could hold it together in front of Voldemort as well, that beautiful piece of work.

I really do admire how you're writing her and developing her. I love, love, love the moments where you remind us of how she's just a young girl despite of the tough act she puts. I just want to give her a hug.

Oh, and I do apologise once again for the mistake in the previous review. Lesson learned: no more reviewing without absolute silence and a cup of tea!

Lots and lots of love!

-Manno

Author's Response: YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!

Isn't she awesome? I'm so proud of my baby!

Hey, I had said she might want to join you on beating Draco with a blunt (or sharp!) object.

Aww, favorite quotes! I love favorite quotes! Thank you.

"All the pretences were off, and they both were finally saying what they mean. For a brief while, they were just two young people in a room, caught in a dilemma too huge and complex for their age. "
--I feel like that's such an excellent description of what this chapter is like and of what I wanted it to be.

Having Draco waver was definitely like chipping away at an iceberg with a screwdriver. You see now why it had to be six chapters in the parlour! I mean, apart from all the background info that we needed, I just knew that Draco needed time to thaw a bit, to develop an admiration for (and, perhaps, an interest in...?) Astoria. And, of course, he sees plenty to admire in her: she's clever and quick, and surprisingly brave. And family is everything to her, which he can relate to. After all, Draco is *in* this terrible situation because of his family.

That bit where he wouldn't let her say the name is something I'm really fond of, too. Yay for quivering, Drastoria-loving hearts!

The honesty at the end of that conversation is cool, too, because up till now we've so rarely seen Astoria be honest. Even when she's been vulnerable, like with Madame Pomfrey, she dries her tears, puts up a front, shakes it off. This is maybe the first time we've seen Astoria with all her walls down. It's a rare view of her.

Aw, thank you! Honestly, I can never read that passage about Fenrir without cringing. He freaks me out. And you're absolutely right – Astoria frequently underestimates her bravery (and, to be fair, she does have a very well-developed sense of self-preservation). But when it comes down to it, she can hold her own. Draco sees that bravery in her, and he's probably right. She probably could hold it together in front of Voldemort far better than most.

And thank you, again! I love when people love Astoria. I don't know how well she'd respond to that hug, but I can tell you that *I* certainly appreciate it.

Absolutely no worries!

Lots of love back atcha! Your reviews always brighten my day :D

--Penny


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