Reading Reviews for Traitorous Hearts
266 Reviews Found

Review #26, by TreacleTart The Weight of the Curse

6th May 2016:
Penny. Penny! PENNY!!!


Alright. Now that that's out of my system, let me get down to the nitty gritty.

I think you know that Seamus is one of my all time favorite characters, so I was quite pleased to see him make an appearance in this chapter. I absolutely love the way that you write him. He's so adorable and happy and he has just the right amount of snarkiness. He's pretty much exactly as I picture him in my head. I also love that you make him clever, witty, good at managing things. You put so much work into making even the side characters come to life and it shows in particular with him.

Astoria is her usual brilliant self, except I think a few cracks are starting to show in her usually perfect exterior. I loved that performing the Imperius curse really got to her. She usually is so good at acting like nothing affects her, so it was nice to see her have a more emotional moment.

I'm really curious about Astoria's seeming inability to cast a reductor curse at the dummies. Towards the end we see her cast a very effective one at her own reflection, so we know that she is capable of doing the spell. I'm wondering if she has some sort of mental block on it and can only complete it when she's mad.

Oh! And Asotria's apology or whatever we're calling it. That was sort of cold. I mean she told the truth, but still she could've softened if up just a bit. Even an I'm sorry would've made it sound a little bit better.

My only tiny bit of CC on this particular chapter comes in the beginning with the Impreius Curse. I found myself wishing that there was just a bit more intensity to it. Like there was something almost dreamlike going on and it seemed just a little too peaceful for the horribleness of it all. Maybe it's because of how rational Astoria is. Even though we know she's upset, she's wearing the mask, so we don't get to see a lot of reaction. Anyway, the scene was still really good, but if I had to nitpick that would be my only bit.

Again, I'm so happy that you're back to updating this! I love this story so much and can't wait to see where you take it! I'm off to read the next chapter right now!


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Review #27, by dreamgazer220 In Dark Spaces

5th May 2016:

Okay, here for our review swap, and I LOVE this chapter!!

You did a fantastic job of building up the tension and suspense once we were actually in the cupboard with Astoria and Cardigan Boy (I literally laughed out loud when I read that line!). She is absolutely the type that would reprimand him, that would call him out. She has no time or patience for whatever he has to say, and it comes across so very strongly on the page.

It was also remarkable, really, how well she could see his facial expressions in the dark. It makes sense, though; Astoria has sharp eyes, and the small details you provided gave us a chance to see them, too. It was a great chance to SHOW us Neville shrugging his shoulders, or raising an eyebrow at her, and you really did not disappoint.

I just loved that scene so much. It was true to Astoria's character, that she doesn't want to be involved in something when she doesn't get anything out of it - that's the true mark of a Slytherin right there. But she listened to him, and Neville clearly got it into her head.

And I loved how you characterized Neville! You can tell he's sweet - he's worried about the children and the people they're hiding, and not having enough food or real supplies to give them. He's stressed and he's worried, but he's also tough. He knows that he's the leader now that Ginny's gone, and you do such a fantastic job of showcasing that development. He'll do whatever it takes to help, even if it means pulling an angry dragon into a supply cupboard.

Can I just tell you that I love what you're doing at Hogwarts? The torture is so cruel, so downright evil, and I never even thought of the Carrows using boggarts as means for torture. But they're Death Eaters, and like everything else you do, it just makes SO MUCH SENSE. That poor girl, though. I can't imagine what she must be feeling, so many fears going at her again and again. Do we get to find out what actually happened to her? I think she's just knocked out cold - Astoria mentioned something along those lines - and I hope that she'll be okay. The poor thing, so afraid and intimidated that she can barely speak.


You're brilliant. Okay, you're just brilliant. I could feel the tension dripping off the page as I read everything in the Great Hall. And the fork was something so unexpected, but I found myself saying "Yes!" when it actually was Astoria who had done such a thing. She's selfish, but she's already starting to change. So very slowly, but it's happening, and she can recognize it too.

And what's up with Slughorn saving her?? I'm very curious to see where you go with this! You manage to leave bits and pieces of intrigue as the chapter progress that honestly leaves me at the edge of my seat and nervous for what's going to happen next. Because really, I don't see any of it coming, and then it happens, and I'm like, "Well, of COURSE!!".

This was another amazing chapter! You're doing such a great job of building the story arch and Astoria's character growth. I'm also amused that she refers to Neville as Cardigan Boy, even after she knows who it is. It shows that, even though she's kind of selfish, she's still got her own sense of humor, and it's really refreshing.

So. did you get the part where I loved this chapter? :)

Thank you for another great swap!

♥ Jill

Author's Response: JILL JILL JILL!

Did you?! YAY!!! :D

I have to say, I'm fond of the Cardigan Boy bit. Astoria's sense of humor is generally very dry and understated, and she hasn't had a *ton* of opportunities to really bring it out. After all, things have been pretty grim. So I love writing those moments where you get a little glimpse of that side of her personality.

Astoria is definitely sharp, with powerful observational skills. I tried to make sure that most everything she does notice is either what she glimpsed and mentally catalogued in that brief moment before he counteracted her Lumos charm, something she's putting together through hearing, or else something she sees in that final moment when her Lumos overpowers his countercharm. But she really does notice a lot just by hearing. It was a fun chapter for me to explore just how well-trained Astoria is. She can gather a lot of information from a conversation in a dark room with a boy she doesn't know. But I'm really glad that you felt like you knew what was going on and, in the parts where there was something to see, you could envision Neville's expression. If there's any area that struck you as something she oughtn't to have been able to see in the dark, though, please PM me, bc I'd want to fix that right up.

I'm so glad that you weren't terribly upset with Astoria. I thought some people might dislike her decision, but I really couldn't right her any other way. Her first instinct is to protect herself and her family, and Neville *is* asking a lot. But you're right; he definitely got it into her head.

And yay! You loved Neville! Working with the canon characters is always the toughest part, so it really makes me happy that you enjoyed this glimpse of him.

Ugh. The Carrows. That part of the chapter was hard to write. I mean, it really is sickening. That's some deep mental scarring, right there. But it was the kind of thing I could see them doing. I think that torture might be the one area where the Carrows had some imagination, as they were clearly sadists. And that's just sort of where my imagination went immediately--I don't remember really considering multiple torture scenarios or raising the stakes or anything. But it just ended up being the exact sort of thing that would get to Astoria. After all, she's been that one girl, standing alone with the weight of the world on her shoulders. And here she sees this child, younger than her, suffer worse than Astoria herself ever did, and for what? Stealing a DINNER ROLL. It absolutely horrifies her and brings out a different side to her personality. I think the deal is that Astoria becomes protective of the people she shares a connection with and, in that moment, she sees her own horrors magnified in what happens to Amara. It brings out the part of her that isn't controlled and cautions--the part of her so deep and instinctual it looses uncontrolled, emotional magic. She reaches the breaking point, where there's just no way she can stand by and let this happen.

:D :D :D The fork was a big moment for me, writing wise. I am SO GLAD that you enjoyed it so much, bc I really wanted it to be an instance where everyone could just go "YES!" and really be cheering for Astoria, even as they held their breath at the potential consequences.

I wanted to show just a bit of Slughorn's progression. He's clearly a coward, but we know he's *amazing* at the Battle of Hogwarts. Everyone thinks he's fled, and then he turns around and brings the reinforcements that turn the tide of the battle. He *personally* duels Voldemort (with help). This man who once turned into a couch to hide from visitors! So I wanted to show a little bit of that. No one except Astoria would have any idea of what he did, but I imagine he's building up to that moment, too, slowly shaking off his cowardice until that time at the Battle when enough is ENOUGH!

Jill, thank you so much for this WONDERFUL review! I truly loved it. It's so encouraging. Hugs!


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Review #28, by FireOpalQueen An Unwelcome Visitor

4th May 2016:
Traitorous Hearts, Chapter 1:

Hello, there, Penny!

This is Kapa, here for our swap! Thanks for the two(!) reviews you left me, they were really insightful (and don’t worry about being nit-picky, I love nit-picky!). Oh, and sorry that this review is a little late! I thought I’d spend yesterday at home in front of my computer, but instead I went on an impromptu excursion to visit a museum which took up the larger part of the day. But now I’m here, and it’s time to get reviewing!

As you may or may not have noticed, Traitorous Hearts has been on my Favourites-list since Dobby-season last year, and I’ve been planning to review it for a long time, so this swap of ours is a good opportunity to get my lazy butt to actually do it. The problem with stories that are both as good and as long as this one is that I feel that they deserve my very best reviewing efforts, and that takes a lot of time. So even though I plan to review all of this story ‘unprompted’, so to speak, it might take me a while to get around to. So yeah, maybe it would be a good idea for us to make another swap soon, as you mentioned… : P

This first chapter, and the ones immediately following it, approaches perfection. Really, if the whole story had just been Draco and Astoria matching wits in the Greengrass parlour for 80 000 words I’d happily have read it; I’m always a fool for tense games of mind-chess. I mean, I enjoy the later chapters too and I appreciate that the story you want to tell is about more than just this moment, but this scene is so well executed that it could easily have stood on its own. Actually, this chapter is so good that I doubt I’ll have much of worth to say about it; through edits and reviews you’ve clearly already polished this chapter ‘til it shines. I mean, with lines like “Tall, blonde, thin and sharp as a rapier. Draco Malfoy.”, how could I not love it? Of course I know that the very same Draco Malfoy spent much of the year before crying in bathrooms, comforted by Moaning Myrtle, and yet your characterisation of you is not only compelling, but also enough in keeping with canon to not be jarring. We’re seeing the persona that Draco himself wants to show to the world (just like Astoria is presenting hers to him). And Astoria sees through it, at least somewhat, when she thinks that he looks “like a child playing in his father’s clothes, filling a role he was not made to fit.”

There are so many good lines in this chapter, omg! “Draco Malfoy was here to do what he had to do to survive.” is great (and reminds me of Hamilton, haha!). Another favourite of mine is “Austerity in one’s tea additives had never struck her as admirable”. Lines like this is what makes good character writing, and it’s just plain funny! : ) My absolute favourite line in this chapter is probably “She could not afford to be kind in front of Draco Malfoy.”, tough. It perfectly encapsulates the whole scenario set before us in this first chapter, and sets off the constant interplay between kindness and tartness in Astoria’s personality that runs throughout the story as the main inner conflict.

(Also, hehe, it always amuses me when people talk about light blonde hair as an unusual hair colour –because I’m from Sweden, where it’s almost the default. I actually used to have almost white hair myself, but it has darkened with age.)

All that said, I have found a few things to remark on:

When Astoria first sees Draco you describe him as looking “as if he might have emerged from the grey mist”. You seem to mean that he looks so much like the mist that he might as well have materialised from it, but due to the dual meaning of the word ‘emerged’ I first read it as you saying that he looked like he had arrived through the mist, which he probably really did, unless he Apparated straight to her doorstep, which I imagine would be a bit rude.

You also mention Draco wearing a ‘suit jacket’ which strikes me as a pretty weird piece of clothing for a Pureblood wizard. I think I’ve read somewhere that you’re going with a mix of book and movie canon for this story, though, and movie Draco admittedly wears clothing that book Draco probably wouldn’t be caught dead in, so maybe this is a moot point…

“‘That would be kind of you,’ he confirmed”. I think ‘confirmed’ is a somewhat weird word choice here. Maybe ‘agreed’ or ‘acquiesced’ could work, though none of those is perfect either…

“You will bring Mr. Malfoy and I some refreshments” – here, the correct phrasing, for once, would actually be ‘Mr. Malfoy and me’, haha!

“She had thought to let him begin the conversation, but he wasn’t,” – I believe ‘hadn’t’ would work better here.

“He tapped the manila folder” – the last ‘he’ that you mentioned was Mr Greengrass, and it’s been a little while since you mentioned Draco, so calling him by name here wouldn’t hurt (wow, and you thought you were nitpicky!).

The last sentence is great as it is, but maybe it would pack even a little more punch as “From the perspective of her daughter, the unexpected death of Lavinia Greengrass was a sight more than ‘unfortunate'.”

And lastly, a more general piece of advice, for you to take or leave as you want. This is actually advice that I’ve gotten myself in the past (and am still looking to implement better, oops), and it is to look over your paragraph spacing. You have many very short paragraphs, which runs the risk of making the text seem ‘choppy’ and not flowing well. I’ve heard that each paragraph should contain one whole idea, and with that rule in mind the progression of three paragraphs that begin with “This was not the boy she had known at school.” and end with “Draco Malfoy was here to do what he had to do to survive.” could easily be one paragraph instead of three (as just one example).

All in all, this is an amazing first chapter of one of my absolute favourite stories on the Archives, and re-reading and reviewing it has been a treat! : D


Author's Response: Kapa! This review was such a treat! And I completely understand about it taking a day or two--that happens :) I absolutely love museums, though, and I'd love to know what sort of museum you visited!

You know, I hadn't thought of it, but now I think I do remember seeing your username on the list. Haha, I understand. I find myself frequently leaving short reviews on my favorite stories when I'm trying to catch up, and then feeling terribly guilty for not leaving longer ones. It's always the question of what's best--a bunch of short reviews that I'll remember to give right then, or long reviews that it may take a while for me to get around to. I try to intersperse them, but definitely understand that feeling. And I had a great time with our swap, so I'd be delighted to do more!

Honestly, this review made me so happy that I literally did the thing where you are forced to cover up your face and peer through your fingers from sheer delight. I didn't even know people really did that, but apparently *I* do! :D I feel like you put into words what I was going for, just, near perfectly! On the inside, Draco is still the sort of boy who cries in bathrooms and is lost and miserable, but Astoria's first glimpse is of what he *wants* her to see, just as he first notices the false image that she projects. But both of them are perceptive enough to notice, fairly quickly, that neither person is exactly what they're pretending to be. It's only that neither of them initially knows the extent of it. You just NAILED that, and I am so, so pleased! You really got what I was going for.

Favorite quotes are such fun for me! It's cool to see what stands out to different people. I have to say, I've always been rather fond of the "tea additives" line, so I'm glad you found it funny. :)

Also, I'd definitely never thought about how that might sound--the rare blonde hair thing--if you're Scandinavian! I'm American myself, and while blonde hair is common enough, that white-blonde shade is pretty rare here outside of childhood. Mostly if you see it, it's dyed hair. But that's pretty funny, and I'm glad you shared it!

And Kapa, thank you so much for CC! I'm sure you can tell that I'm a perfectionist, so it means so much to me that you'd take the time to give me notes--I always want to be making everything better, so I appreciate the nitpicking. It helps me to grow as a writer!

You make a bunch of really good points, and I'll have to run back through and do some editing on these things. The word choice and grammar stuff is especially useful, as is letting me know when "he" might be misleading! At some point it just gets hard to see all those things, as the writer. And you're right about the robes vs. suit jacket conundrum. I veered a little towards movie Draco, there. When I first read that comment, I thought about going and changing it this very minute, but the suit jacket *does* serve a sort of purpose in chapter...5, I think it is? Maybe when you get there, you could help me brainstorm a solution on that front, and I could switch it to robes? Because I certainly see your point. I'd just need to do a bit of adjusting in order to change it.

I totally understand what you're saying about paragraph spacing. I believe some of them used to be chunkier, and I ended up splitting them because some people say that, when reading in the on-screen format, they find split paragraphs easier to process? That must be more of a personal thing. I can see the point of it, but I'd always been given to writing in larger paragraphs prior to. So, I guess it's something I'll have to work harder at balancing. I definitely see what you're saying, and when I make those edits I'll try to have a look through and see where it might be possible to pull some sentences together.

Thank you so very much for this review, Kapa! I absolutely loved it. And certainly let's swap again sometime!


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Review #29, by dreamgazer220 Behind the Bleeding Walls

4th May 2016:
Penny! I'm back! *squishes*

Firstly, I'm so glad you found your wallet! I know how terrifying that is. And I'm glad you got my Grease reference, I was hoping you would! :)

ANYWAY. Onto your actual requested review. ♥

So I did notice one thing, I'm not sure if you meant Black Friday or Good Friday? Black Friday is in November, so that's why I was convinced about the timeline. It happens somewhere in the beginning, where Pansy's talking about the other families that are abducted.

And speaking of Pansy: your characterization, girl. Spot-on once again. I loved this line: "Pansy was the sort that liked to have a little blood on her, so long as it was someone else's. That way she could claim a part in the victory." SO TRUE! I really liked that we got to see inside the Slytherin common room during the brink of the war. It's so interesting, and I'm wondering if the names you mentioned will come back somehow?

I feel like Astoria's feeling a twinge of guilt that she let her family survive, but I'm glad she's also relieved about it. It says a lot about her relationship with Daphne that, while she would sacrifice herself for her sister, that doesn't necessarily mean she has to like her. I think that's a very true fact about a lot of families, and it's nice to see that not all siblings - even if they're sisters - are particularly close to each other.

I know you were worried about the suspense before she gets taken by a Gryffindor (I have some guesses, but I'm going to keep them quiet and see if I'm right!), and I think you did a good job. It did seem a little draggy in some parts, but at the same time, you don't want to rush everything and it's a nice tack to Astoria's humanity that she wants to be left alone for a while. She's definitely feeling the burden, and you do such a great job of showing us that she has feelings, too.


Ahem. There's something so amusing about the Death Eater's setting up camp in the Forbidden Forest. I don't think it was too draggy in this part - it was nice to get inside Draco's head, as we've spent a good amount of time in Astoria's, and it's so good to see where he's coming from. And girl, characterization. HOW DO YOU DO THE THING?!

Draco's fears, his guilt, his worries for his mother- it all felt so real and so raw to me. And details I forget, like that Bellatrix is his aunt- it's so interesting to see how those family dynamics work out. And I LOVE that one of the Malfoy family rules is that family is first. It just makes a lot of sense (how many times can I say that in a review?).

Another thing I loved was the descriptions of Hogwarts looking like it was bleeding. And Draco's worried about having to face Astoria! I KNEW IT. :D He's so confused it's kind of adorable.

Ooh, and I also really loved the opening of this chapter, I forgot to mention that earlier. You just. Your descriptions and language and characters. A+

I really enjoyed this chapter! Not a lot was happening, but for the most part, you did a good job with trying to keep the balances. I'm not sure how to work up the suspense in the first part because I'm really not sure if you could cut anything, y'know? I am really bad at giving advice sometimes, haha.

Thank you for another request! I can't wait to see where you take this! All the exclamation points!

♥ Jill

Author's Response: Jill, with your prompt review-answering, you have inspired me to be more on top of my review responses than I have probably ever been. What a star!

Ah! I appreciate CC so much. Please keep it comin'! So, in this case, it's actually a thing. I think Black Friday is mostly an American deal? But, for far longer, that term has been another name for Good Friday. They're synonymous. I thought about saying "Good Friday", but "Black" seemed to capture the mood of the moment a little more. I'll keep an eye on it, though, and if it seems to be causing a lot of confusion I may switch it, or at least clarify in the author's note.

Thank you! You're very perceptive. I'd try to remember those names, if you can. They might come back to haunt you ;)

I think one of the best things about Astoria is her loyalty. It doesn't matter that Daphne has mostly been useless and unpleasant. Astoria still loves her, even if she'd maybe rather not ;) Maybe she doesn't have the universal loyalty that's prized among the Gryffs and the Puffs, but the people she does love, she'd die for.

Haha, I'm so happy that you were so glad to see Draco! I'm envisioning how baffled he would be by that in his current state, and it's cracking me up.

The Death Eater camp is definitely a bit unusual. They're set up like that for a number of reasons, and I *think* you should be finding out most of them in the chapter I'm trying to finish up right now. I'm glad that you said that you could see where he was coming from--that's what I really wanted. I think Draco is enormously conflicted. After all, he tried to do the right thing once or twice, and so far, it's almost never worked out. And from a plot standpoint, I think JK did a brilliant job with Dumbledore's death--no complaints (except my tears), but I always hated for Draco that that moment was stolen from him. Because I think he would have made the right decision, and now we--but especially he--will never truly know. And I think that would haunt him.

I really do feel for the Malfoys, or at least for Draco and Narcissa. Draco may have bragged about "wanting" to be a Death Eater, but he was always just doing it for attention. He was a child, and he had no idea what he was talking about. I think that, now that he does, he'd take it all back in an instance. And in the end, he didn't *choose* to become a Death Eater; he was forced by Voldemort as a sick revenge for his father's failure. He spent a year suffering under the weight of an impossible task that it's clear some part of him didn't want to carry out at all. He's in a bad way, for certain, and even though he isn't "good", I think he's interesting and sympathetic, with lots of potential.

Oh, Draco is so confused (and maybe a bit adorable, yeah) He doesn't totally know how to process what he feels for Astoria, but it has clearly made him make DANGEROUS CHOICES. And what could happen to *her* if he saw her again, in a Death Eater capacity? Like, he wants to stay away, but also...she has really pretty eyes, you know? ;) (heehee, poor Draco) How is he supposed to deal with THAT??

Haha, I'm *glad* so many things make sense! It's sort of my idea of what Pureblood ideals were supposed to be, before they were corrupted. I think loyalty to family is a huge deal to them, and probably where a lot of this bloodline mania came from. Witches and wizards once (pretty rightfully) felt it was them against the world, and I think that would have made family loyalties quite strong. Therefore, I don't think it's any surprise that the Slytherins value "fraternity" over "loyalty"; it implies extreme devotion to a brotherhood, versus the idea of just being a stand-up person all around.

And I appreciate your advice. If you don't know of anything I could cut, I'll leave it for now and see if anything pops out at me in my next round of edits. Thank you so much for this absolutely LOVELY review!


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Review #30, by Ohpl A Trace of Home

3rd May 2016:
Wonderful chapter. Your Luna is perfect. Exactly the right mix of strength and oddness. While the room may have created what Astoria needs it is the people around her that will allow her to do what she needs to do. Start to heal. Her realization that she was also her fathers daughter was touching. She is both bending and breaking here. In a good way.
If you ever wrote a story in this time frame with Seamus in the lead I would be the first to read it. I love him in this story. His irreverence and kindness is what they all need.

Author's Response: Have I told you how much I appreciate you? Thank you so much for taking the time to write up a review when you read! It is so encouraging.

Also, that really means a lot! I was worried about balancing Luna out, trying to show her serious side as well as keeping her her lovable, loopy self.

You are exactly right! I think Astoria appreciates the grand gesture, but it's the people that mean the most. She's shut out human connection for far too long, and she really needs this.

And haha, thank you! Maybe I'll consider writing a Seamus one-shot companion piece, if I ever get the chance. That could be really fun. I love him, too. He keeps the rest of them from getting too serious :D

Thank you again for this lovely review!


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Review #31, by dreamgazer220 The Writing On the Wall

2nd May 2016:
Penny! Here for your requested review ♥

Okay, so, this is by far my favorite chapter so far. And I mean, not just because there was a lot of Ginny Weasley, as it shouldn't come to a surprise to you that she's my favorite character. ;) I know you said in your request that this is your favorite chapter, and I can see why.

There are so many things I LOVED about this chapter. I loved the way you built up the tension for Astoria returning to Hogwarts after the holidays. It's really so sad that Filly was the one to bring her there, and it shows the truth and rawness of her father's condition. You do such a brilliant job of weaving in and out of Astoria's thoughts and moving the scene along without it droning on. It's so clear that something is wrong and everyone can feel it, even in that opening chapter. It just makes so much sense that they would be so subdued, not wanting to draw too much attention to themselves.

I really, really liked that Astoria was irrationally angry about Ginny not being there. Of course she knows she's on the run, but having her want to have some girl talk after everything that happened makes her seem less hard and even more human. It's a subtle reminder that, despite everything, she's still a sixteen year old girl with a lot on her shoulders. It also painted this picture of her being lonely, which we didn't really get to see in the last few chapters because of the interrogation. You did an amazing job of showing that vulnerability and that need for human connection.

And then you bring us to another flashback, prompted by something that Astoria remembers saying to Ginny. Everything you write about Hogwarts makes me go, "Why yes, but why didn't this happen in the books?" Of course, there's stuff we know that's canon - like Dumbledore's army and the graffiti on the walls - but you twist it around and make it just so raw.

I love the power play that's still going on between Astoria and Ginny. It's clear there's been some development, at least on Astoria's end, but they're still staying so true to their characters and their strong personalities. You just write them SO WELL.

And OMG, Ginny's breakdown was so brilliant and I didn't even see it coming! It makes SO MUCH SENSE that that's why she's doing all of those things, to make up for what had happened to her first year. I really loved the line where you said, "Everyone had known what happened to Ginny Weasley, and everyone had forgotten." I GOT CHILLS, PENNY. CHILLS. (It's electrifying!)

Ahem. And Peeves showing up, brilliant. And that conversation between Astoria and Ginny about Harry - you did such a great job of, once again, showing us Ginny's brilliantly strong character and her strong will, but also being scared and vulnerable and not knowing where Harry is or what's going to happen to him. I can't imagine what that must be like, but you did an astounding job of painting that picture for us.

It really felt like I was there in that corridor with them. The hushed whispers and everything - it was just SO GOOD, Penny! I envy your talent with language and description. I can see this alliance blooming and it's so brilliantly done that I'm not even questioning it.

I'm a little sad that we didn't get a chance to see Draco in this chapter, but there was enough going on that it makes sense as to why he wasn't around. Will we get to see more of his POV once we get to Hogwarts? I wonder what their first encounter will be like.

Honestly, I can't think of any CC to give you. I mean, if anything, I'd say that the beginning was a bit slow, but you did such a good job of setting up the tension and then throwing us onto the train and the flashback that it really worked for the chapter. I know not everything can be fast-paced all the time, so it was a nice balance.

Thank you for the request! It just gives me an excuse to keep reading this fabulous story that you've created, and I'm so excited to see where you go with it. It honestly keeps me guessing and has me at the edge of my seat.

Amazing job!

♥ Jill

Author's Response: Jill!!!

Jill, ohmygracious, this is the *loveliest* review! I had to pause to go put it in under the "Reviews That Made My Day" thread on the forums, because it really did. I've had a crazy day. I was out shopping with my mom and suddenly couldn't find my wallet, and was worried it had been lost or stolen. I finally found it back home - literally thank God - but I had been so worried and it had kind of turned my day upside down. Even after I found it and was so grateful that it wasn't gone, I was still kind of shaken up. But then I logged on and saw this LOVELY review and all the warm-fuzzies came to help chase away the last of my anxiety. I can't tell you what a gift this was. I was so grateful to receive this review.

This *is* probably my favorite chapter at present. Definitely one of them (though I have one coming up that may almost rival it). But Ginny and Astoria's dynamic is one of my favorite things about this story. I never expected them to balance each other in quite the way that they do, and it's changed this story drastically, and for the better.

Everything you write about Hogwarts makes me go, "Why yes, but why didn't this happen in the books?"
--so, you're actually going to make me cry

Ginny's breakdown was so important to me. I never wanted her to be just a side character, stuck in for convenience. Everyone in the D.A. has a reason to be there, but none have more reason than Ginny. When I thought about that statement in the books--the graffiti on the walls--I guess the parallel just struck me and it seemed perfect. I feel like in the books we get a glimpse of the fact that Ginny is a powerful, fierce witch, and a brief reminder that she knows what it's like to be possessed by Voldemort. But I wanted to explore what that *meant*. Ginny is so determined to be a part of things, to not be left behind, and I just wanted to point out that it's not just because she's a Gryffindor, or because the rest of her family can fight and she feels left out. Those things are true. But I think that Ginny Weasley has a personal score to settle with Tom Riddle. I think that really gets lost. And I wanted to talk about why that might be, too, because Ginny--shy, terrified Ginny--becomes so cool in the later books. And we really do almost forget about what she went through. And I just thought that that might be intentional. Ginny has so much fire and swagger, and I don't think it's *despite* the fact that Voldemort nearly broke her when she was just a girl. I think it's *because* of it.

It's also pretty significant that she's telling these things to Astoria. I think Ginny can be braver about her feelings than most girls in her situation might be, but she's still very proud. She's the only daughter among a whole pile of boys; I don't imagine she often shows emotional vulnerability. You mentioned that Astoria made progress in trusting Ginny, and she really has. But this is Ginny's show of trust, and it's considerable. I think she knows that Astoria can keep a secret, but still. It's a risk. But I also like the connection it shows between them. Both girls are used to concealing a lot and bearing heavy burdens, and it's that connection that's allowing them to grow a little closer here.

Also, when you said "it's electrifying!" all I could think about was John Travolta in Grease :D

I do love that girl talk moment. Like, after all the high emotion, a little bit of low-key, normal vulnerability. A little bit of humor. In my mind, Ginny and Astoria are sisters beneath the skin, and here I think they are just starting to realize it.

As to your question, yes, there *will* still be scenes with Draco once we get to Hogwarts. They are spread out between Astoria's scenes, and you'll see why. Essentially, Astoria's life is just a lot more fast-moving than Draco's for these next few chapters, but he's still a huge part of the story. Never fear!

Thank you for this wonderful review! It truly did make my day.


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Review #32, by Startafire An Unwelcome Visitor

1st May 2016:
Hey there! So sorry this took so long!

Here for the first part of our swap and I'm just going to dive straight in and get started...

This is the first Draco/Astoria fan fiction I have ever read, I've been working my way around to find one as I am a fan of Draco, and I think yours may just be it!

You have such a strong opening to this chapter and I love the influence her mother sets of Astoria about keeping secrets. It's rather sly in a way and tells me this little scene will most likely link in later with the story?

We then jump forward to 1998 and the way you displayed the time jump was done so well and so smoothly! It just flowed perfectly and I really do applaud you for that!

I absolutely love the imagery of the dress and the political way it can be represented. Astoria obviously feels strongly against everything it could stand for and simply deems it Green for her surname. Already you're displaying her as a strong and independent young women who can clearly think for herself, I can already tell she is going to be such a like able character!

And oooh Draco, where to even begin! the pleasantries they exchange almost has be writhing in my seat, it's an awkward situation and I just wanted him to say something, to show us how he had changed since the war. But of course he'll always have some Malfoy in him and this is shown so well when they get straight down to business.

One particular part that is my favorite is the way we see Draco through Astoria's eyes. Clearly she's not the biggest fan of his, and instead of outright telling us she doesn't like him, you tell us through the way he sits, the way he speaks and dresses.

At the same time I don't know whether to feel sorry for him or not. He's skinnier than usual which tells us he's not eating and maybe going through a hard time? Yet at the same time I don't want to like him for Astoria's sake and whatever she has gone through.

I want to know more, no I NEED to know more!

There is so many questions, about the war, about Draco and especially about her mother!

I'll stop baffling now and just say this was a fantastic first chapter. A little short, but I think this is why it was so brilliant, it was the perfect length to make us, as a reader, want more!

Onto chapter two!


Author's Response: Hey Ella! What a lovely review! Thank you.

I am such a fan of Draco! He may not be the best role model or anything, but he's such an interesting character to read and write! It's great fun to write characters who *don't* always make the right choice, who don't have heroic instincts and have to truly *work* at being good. If, of course, he chooses to do so.

I'm so flattered that you think this might be the Draco/Astoria story for you! That really means so much! I do hope you continue to like it!

I was so nervous about slipping through time when I was first writing these chapters, so I'm really pleased that you thought it was done well. Thank you.

I know?! They are *so* awkward. I always imagined that, amongst themselves, Purebloods would have this very stuck-in-time, 19th century way of speaking. The great thing is that that speech style really lends itself towards the uncomfortable. It sounds so stiff and starched, and I loved playing with this forced politeness while there are basically conversational sharks swimming around in the subtext.

At this point, Draco hasn't actually changed since the war. We're still in it. This story takes place in the background of Deathly Hallows. Draco is a Death Eater, and he's in relative favor at the moment, since Snape lied and claimed that he was instrumental in helping him to kill Dumbledore. He's got a cushy job, by Death Eater standards. But he doesn't seem to be wearing it well, does he?

We're at Easter Holidays now. Which, on the book's timeline, means we're some days ahead of when the trio get Snatched and taken to Malfoy Manor, if that helps put it into perspective at all.

I'm glad that you're already inclined to be on Astoria's side! I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not you pity Draco. There's plenty more to find out about his situation, both good and bad.

There's lots more to find out! I hope you find the answers intriguing!

This *is* a short chapter, but I'm glad you thought it was right for the opening. If you read past chapter 2, the per chapter word count increases considerably, if long chapters are more your jam! But I think there are still plenty of questions, even then :D

Thanks so much for this lovely review, Ella. It was great fun to read! I definitely look forward to seeing more of your thoughts.


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Review #33, by dreamgazer220 A Family Affair

27th April 2016:
Penny! Here for our swap ♥

I loved this chapter so much. I'm always impressed by your ability to keep things interesting, even when Astoria is doing mundane things like packing for school. She certainly has a lot on her mind, and I don't blame her! I would be confused too (well, I am confused!) about Draco saving her, and what his motives might be. It's also so interesting to see this dynamic with the house elves because it speaks so much about Astoria's character. I really like that she's not like other pureblood children who would torture them, but rather looks at Filly as more of a companion.

And we finally get to meet her father! I absolutely loved your description of the library- again, it's just your command of language and description. I really want to live in that library and I don't blame Astoria for spending much of her childhood in there. I can totally picture her as a child sitting in uncomfortable positions in the armchair and just devouring novels! I also really liked the fact that he called her Tori and she called him Papa. It made everything feel less formal and more familial, which I enjoyed. And for Astoria's sake, I'm glad that it was one of his better days, even if he did mistake her for Lavinia originally. That scene really made me feel for Astoria, though, as I can't imagine what she must go through on a daily basis when she's home - and it certainly doesn't help that she doesn't have anyone else to lend a hand. Ugh, Daphne!

You also did a great job of painting a picture of Astoria's family by giving us some of her heritage. Her great-great grandmother seems like a very strong, powerful woman and I can't help but wonder if we will see more of her portrait in future chapters. I certainly hope so!

And then you bring us to the Malfoy Manor! Immediately you set up an amazing contrast between what's going on in the two homes. And it was interesting to see the Narcissa/Draco relationship here after Harry's escape. Draco is right, though. Voldemort will find him no matter what, and I don't want to think about what he's going to do when he finds him. It really was a beautiful parallel scene, with Greengrass Hall and Malfoy Manor. Well done!

Another thing I really enjoyed was that you brought us right back into the heat of book 7. I'm so excited to see where you're going to take this and I can't wait to read it from both Astoria and Draco's perspective.

Keep up the great work, and thank you for another wonderful swap!


Author's Response: Hey Jill!

I'm glad you didn't find Astoria's packing too boring. It definitely gave her no opportunity to avoid everything that's on her mind.

Bahaha! DRACO is confused about Draco saving her. He's not really known for his compassion or bravery, and he's well-aware of it. Astoria *tries* to be honest with herself, but she isn't always successful, and sometimes she's too harsh. At this point in his life, Draco is pretty much exactly harsh enough with himself. He's facing the fact that he's a coward (or has been most of his life), so he was as shocked by his actions as anyone else was.

There are definitely reasons. He just hasn't fully sorted them out yet.

I love Filly the House Elf! As does Astoria. I imagined that our view of House Elves in the books was fairly one-sided. Most of the people we see with Elves--Walburga Black, Hepzibah Smith, Lucius Malfoy, Barty Crouch Sr.--well, they're all pretty terrible people. I imagine that there are decent families with House Elves, too. The way I imagine it, a lot of Pureblood kids with society parents are largely raised by their family Elves when they're young. That would give them the opportunity to form a very close bond. And maybe not everyone would take that opportunity, but Astoria did. She's never been the best at making friends--a trait she gets from her mother--and Daphne isn't winning any award for world's best sister. So I think that Astoria and Filly would have grown quite close. And Astoria is not alone in this. For all his fault's, even Regulus Black--a Death Eater!--clearly valued Kreacher. It was Voldemort's poor treatment of Kreacher that was the final straw, leading Regulus to betray Voldemort and lose his own life in the bargain. That's the sign of someone who loved a House Elf very much. And I thought that could be the case for more than just one Pureblood child.

The library is definitely the best, most comfortable place in Greengrass Hall. I'm sure it's old, but I imagine that it was very much in Felix's style, and he's a fantastically warm person. I loved writing this scene! It was fun to show what Astoria was like with at least a little of her guard down. I mean, she's still on edge around Felix. She never quite knows how he'll be or what he might say, and when he forgets her, well, that's very hurtful, even though she knows he doesn't mean it :( So she still isn't totally vulnerable, but she loves him, and we get to see a bit of that warmth come through. It was fun, after all the cool posturing of the scenes between her and Draco or Ginny.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Honestly, I should just write a side fic called "Ugh, Daphne!" with a list of all the things she's doing wrong.

I'm glad you liked getting a glimpse of Astoria's heritage! My main problem with the HP books was that they always seemed a little low on diversity. I love the cast and all, but the fanart of Black Hermione and Indian Harry gives me life!

The scene at Malfoy Manor was one of my favorites to write. I always wondered how we go from a Draco who would spare Harry--because he must have known--to the Draco that goes after him in the Room of Requirement? But when I thought about what must have happened to the Malfoys after they let Harry Potter slip through my fingers...well, it made a lot more sense. I wanted to include that so that Draco's character arc would make sense. But I also wanted to show that I think he merits *some* sympathy.

Yeah, that was the other benefit--tying us into Deathly Hallows! From here on, the story is much more closely tied with those events, so I'm excited to see you get to those parts and to see what you think.

Thank you for these awesome reviews, Jill! You're so wonderful!


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Review #34, by Gabriella Hunter Behind the Bleeding Walls

27th April 2016:
Hello! >:3

I am so sorry that it took me so long to stop by with a review for our swap! Man, life has been kicking my butt lately. I got a weird stomach thing for a second and my laptop died last night! What's up with that?

I'm going to be honest and say that I would probably debate offering up my soul in order to binge read this story. I've wanted to delve back into it for ages now but things kept getting in the way so I'm so happy to be back.

What's strange is that it doesn't take much to get back into this either. Some stories either stick with you or they fade away but what's so lovely about this is that it's so rich and detailed that it would be like, impossible to forget I'm in love with it.


I really loved the way you opened this chapter, I've never started one this way. It seamlessly goes from various POVs without a hitch and you also give us some darn good exposition. Hogwarts sounds like a grim place and I could really feel that while I was reading. You took a much more nuanced approach than I did because in A Force of Wills, I'm just like:

"Everything sucks and people are gonna die, yo."

What's great about what you've done is that I can see through Astoria's eyes so perfectly. I think that with all of the information that she has and all of the secrets that she must keep, it must be difficult to find a safe place. The gossip about the missing and dead students just really added a nice touch to this as well.

There's this sense of emptiness about Hogwarts now in the students and the grounds. You can breathe it all in and what's great about this is that the Slytherins are aware of how fragile they are. They're not safe.

So, shut up Pansy.

The looming threat was hinted at but not overdone like some stories tend to be when it comes to the eventual Battle. The disgust, relief, fear and dismay were written beautifully but I'm going to tell you what my favorite part of this is:

Astoria admits to not being a perfect person.

Can I just hug your face? I get so sick and tired of these main characters being written like they're made out of gold. I want to see them make mistakes and what makes your Astoria so darn fantastic is that she admits that she is NOT without faults. She's glad to be alive and knows that it's wrong to feel that way when someone else might have died in her place.

Also, that's another twin moment! My Astoria is in denial but she does admit to not caring about that sort of thing later on. She also kind of gets kidnapped in the dark too! Zing!


Gah, I friggin' love your Draco. He's such a complex character! I like how you haven't made him into some tragic hero too just because he helped Astoria, he's still looking out for number 1 when it all boils down to it. I like that he's not selfless here, he's really afraid about what might happen and although he does show a few moments of regret, you can tell that if he had a choice, he would always pick himself.

I loved the similarities between the pair and I hope that we get to see them together again. I think that Draco might have some other problems going on though and he should be more careful about eavesdropping on his nutty aunt. I wonder where she's off to? Bella is taking her role as Grand Jerk too seriously, I believe but that entire scene was written beautifully by the way. You describe hateful, evil people so well and Draco's narration is simply superb.

I just hope he doesn't get eaten or something.

I'm not sure when this story might take on a more romantic note, considering how both of these character are but I like that Astoria has made Draco feel off balance. She's lingering in the back of his mind and I'm curious to see what might happen when he does meet her again.

So, this was a wonderful chapter as usual and I'm glad that I've started reading again! We need to swap more!

Much love,


Author's Response: Gabbie! This review is wondrous!

Also, don't worry about it at all. Seriously. What with all your computer craziness *and* getting sick. Besides, we have the evil twin curse of "every time we go to do a review swap, RL does something and we get slowed down". It's chill. We both know we're good for it.

Oh gosh, Gabbie! I'm so, so flattered! But you don't need to offer your soul, or your firstborn, or anything in that realm. You might decide you want them later ;)

I'm so glad that it's easy to slip back into it. I've been worried about that since hiatus. It's really good to know that you were able to pick it back up without a problem.


I mean, "Everything sucks and people are gonna die, yo" is still a pretty good summary of what's going on ;)

You're definitely right. Astoria doesn't have anywhere right now that she can go and feel like it's a refuge. She's in a very lonely place right now, for sure.

I really wanted to portray Slytherin House during this period partly because I think it would be such an impossible place to be. Not everyone was pro-Voldemort, but while I imagine the other Houses could openly discuss issues with the Carrows/Voldemort, that would not have been safe in Slytherin House. Everyone had to keep their fears and doubts all bottled up. Some people in that room are legitimately horrible. Some of them just don't know what to say, and don't want to be caught saying the wrong thing. But they really aren't safe.

Ugh. *Please* tell Pansy to shut up. I get more annoyed with her every time I have to write her. ick.

*Hugs back* Yay! I'm so happy that you approve of Astoria's moral grey areas. I know there are people who only like those golden heroes, but that's not what this story is about. Like, the Harry Potter books are great, but one thing about Harry is that he doesn't often have to really *try hard* to do good. And that aspect of his character is less interesting to me. I wanted Astoria to *struggle* with right and wrong. Sometimes she does the right thing, sometimes she doesn't. Often when she *does*, it's against her primary instincts. And really, on the occasions that she *does* do the right thing, I think it's almost a bigger deal because it isn't easy for her. I want her growth to really be a process, and I'm really glad to have readers that are on board for that.

Kidnappings in the dark = ~twin connection~ :D

Thank you! That means so much to me. Draco has definitely been a tricky character to work with. His primary concern has always been himself and his family. He had a...deviation there with Astoria, and frankly he hasn't even figured out what the heck was going on with that. But yeah, I didn't want it to be like, "I did one single not-awful thing and immediately everything has changed. Now I shall be an unproblematic fave!" Does he have a conscience? Yes. Does he have regrets? Absolutely. Is he still for the most part focused on himself and his family? Oh yes.

I want him to grow and all, but it's early days yet, and he's still very much himself.

Draco definitely needs to watch out for Bellatrix. She is very bad news.

"You describe hateful, evil people so well" -- Why thank you! Haha ;)

"I just hope he doesn't get eaten or something." -- I'm gonna be honest. I smiled all through this review, but this actually made me laugh out loud.

Ah, the romance. We'll get there. They're on each other's minds, but there is definitely more to come before it quite qualifies as an out-and-out romance. At this point, they're basically both going over it in their heads all the time being like, "Okay, like, are they screwing with me? Or did we have a ~moment?" Draco is actually more of a hopeless romantic than Astoria, which has been pretty fun to play with so far.

Thank you so much for this FANTABULOUS review, and I'm looking forward to more review swaps! You're the best evil twin a girl could hope for! :D


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Review #35, by dreamgazer220 A Changing Tide

24th April 2016:
Swap 2/2.

Penny. Penny.

WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING HERE?! And, of course, I mean that in the BEST possible way! I just - my heart - and you - and Draco -

Okay. So. I loved the opening of this chapter. I loved the imagery of Astoria unconscious on that uncomfortable sofa, and the language you used to describe it was perfect and reminded me of the first chapter, as when she was describing Draco coming into the parlor and how unwelcome he was there. She's uncomfortable, but she knows she's safe, and she's still home, merely by simple things like the fireplace and the rug. And really, isn't that all you need to remember where you are?

And, of course, I loved Astoria trying to defend herself with a fire poker. While it's not a wand, it certainly was a weapon, and I loved how she recognized it.

Once again, the banter and conversation between Draco and Astoria truly is remarkable. They really are a good match for each other, both intelligent and cunning in their own ways. If only he wasn't there to interrogate her on her innocence. Though in this chapter, it was clear that they were starting to see each other differently. We saw that a bit in the previous chapter, but it was nice seeing it from her perspective, as they're getting better readings on each other. He can already sense when she's doing something completely uncharacteristic, and she can sense when he's terrified - and, of course, who WOULDN'T be terrified of Greyback?!

Astoria begging for her father's safety is just so beautiful. It shows, again, that she's very strongly protective of him, even if she doesn't quite feel that way about Daphne. I do hope we get to meet her later on, I'm curious to see how she would stand out against the way that her sister describes her - and even Draco, as they were in the same year at school.

This chapter played out like a movie in my mind. The writing, as always, is so beautiful and clean. It allows me to get sucked right into the world that you've created, the different dynamics that are playing so well with each other. And I sort of really enjoyed that Astoria went into a fit of laughter when she realized that they were coming for her, no matter what she said or Draco did. Interesting, though, that she asked him to help her.

AND THEN HE DID! I was honestly as shocked as Astoria probably was, he had been so silent and then had done the thing I least expected of him. And I love that he has no idea why, though I suspect it's got something to do with the fact that he fancies Astoria, or that he might begin to fancy her, but with you, you never really know ;) It will certainly keep me guessing, especially now that the interrogation is over.

But will he find out that Draco's lying? What will happen to him then, and will it be up to Astoria to save him when the time comes? As you can probably gather from these questions, I'm very intrigued to see where you take this because I have honestly no idea. I've never read anything quite like this and I can't wait to see how it plays out.

Thank you so much for another great swap! We'll have to do more in the future.

♥ Jill

Author's Response: Is it *wrong* if the first thing I say is MUAHAHAHA? ;)

My favorite thing is reviews that start in all caps :D

Squeak! Astoria defending herself with a fire poker is one of my favorite things. It's ironic, in a way, that as a Pureblood, she often enough goes for a non-magical solution, but it gives her an edge, because no one ever expects it. I think Draco was just like "wait, wut?" One of Astoria's chief Slytherin traits is her resourcefulness, and when backed into a corner, she can be outright vicious.

I'm pretty sure when Astoria jumps up, bonks him on the head, and then slices his arm with a fire poker, there's a part of Draco that's just like, "You know, I don't know why I'm surprised anymore. This sort of thing could only happen to me."

You're right--they're definitely getting better reads on each other in this chapter. Emotion is running high, and the walls are crumbling. *waggles eyebrows*

Yeah, I really wanted to stress that idea about Slytherins--that it isn't that they are *disloyal*, but that they are selectively, fiercely loyal. The people they care about? That's a sacred list; no one touches them.

You've actually already met Daphne. She made a brief appearance back in Chapter 4--the Malediction Perfidious, when Astoria was injured. I'm not surprised if you don't remember her, though; she wasn't terribly helpful. There will definitely be more Daphne down the line. She's Astoria's sister, after all. I'll be interested to see what you think of her when you see a bit more of her in person. Astoria *does* care about Daphne--she'd save her if she could. But Astoria knows that saving her father is a stretch, and he's the one who wouldn't be able to save himself. Daphne, if nothing else, has plenty of self-preservational instinct. Felix is a man with shaky health, both mental and physical. He'd never manage life on the run.

Aww, thank you! I love that it played like a movie! My background is theatre so, often as not, I write the dialogue and then fill in the scenery, but that's how i always am hoping it will be--like it's playing out right in front of you. Thank you!

I liked writing Astoria's breakdown, too. Obviously it was highly irregular, but these are extreme circumstances, and it was fun to explore what she's like when she's just...done. I think it was a wry laughter, but also full of genuine relief. The idea that she failed--her family, herself--was in many ways worse than the idea of death, at least at that point, when she wasn't yet actually facing it.

Ugh. Greyback is awful. He'll definitely be haunting Astoria's dreams for a long time. Are we lucky enough to have seen the last of him? Who can say?

And she asked Draco because he was all that was left to her. It was a true last resort, an act of pure desperation. She was definitely shocked to see everything that happened next.

I KNOW!! HE DID, RIGHT?! Draco did a thing! A *good* thing! What is this world coming to??

I'm SO glad that I'm keeping you on your toes. Writing Astoria and Draco's story is so fun because the background is all there, you know? The building blocks are laid out, but there is so little known about where they were in between all the action of Deathly Hallows. We know a little bit about Draco, and almost nothing about Astoria. It gives me a lot of room to play, which I'm really enjoying. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it plays out, too!

Thank you so much for this wonderful review! I had so much fun reading it--might have cackled once or twice ;) And yes, we definitely have to do this again soon! It's been so much fun! Thanks again! I'm using too many exclamation points!


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Review #36, 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!


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Review #37, by dreamgazer220 The Stolen Truth

24th April 2016:
Swap 1 of 2!


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!


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Review #38, 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! :) :)


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!


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Review #39, 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!


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Review #40, 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!


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Review #41, 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!

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!


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Review #42, 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! ♥


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.


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Review #43, 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!

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!


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Review #44, 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!


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.


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Review #45, 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!


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Review #46, 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!


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Review #47, 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 Godric’s 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.


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Review #48, 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 :)


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!


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Review #49, 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!


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.


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Review #50, 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!


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