Reading Reviews for Detox, Chapter 3: Regrets
27 Reviews Found

Review #1, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap 

4th March 2015:
Large holes in the North Tower and the Astronomy Tower were still being repaired, leaving the insides exposed to the elements. It was all too real, too fresh, too familiar.

Reading this part made it feel like someone took a knife to my chest. I never thought of the rebuilding period and what the castle would look like afterwards. Sure it would be remodeled to the same degree but there are always little cracks and differences that would be noticed by those who experienced the great battle. I donít know why this is bothering me just now or came into my head but I wonder how Neville felt the first time he stepped back into the school and started to teach. I know this story has nothing to do with him but it just popped in my head. I think I would feel uneasy. Hogwarts is a safe place and the biggest threat is gone but there are so many memories.

The battle was raging all around. His mad aunt cackled somewhere nearby while she hurled curses at an unseen opponent. The din of the fighting was deafening.

See I think the former students and those who were in the battle would have similar experiences going back the first time, during say the anniversary or just visiting the school. That sudden rush of fear and then the weight of this is what happened here, this person I knew died right here or I used this horrible spell on another to save my life and those around me.

I believe that when I read Draco relieving the moments as he walks to the school. I would believe it for the trio and all the other important characters in Harry Potter.

ďThat will be acceptable. See that Iím not kept waiting. The forecast is for snow on Monday morning!Ē

Wow. I didnít think McGonagall would react that way. I kind of think itís rather harsh but Iím not sure if itís entirely out of her character. I think she has always been rather forgiving but McGonagall does have an edge to her. I figured she would accept him not with open arms and yes with some regulations but to treat him like heís not a student entirely isÖdifferent.

The very notion of spending two hours each week listening to some self-important half-wit drone on about the filthy muggles and their rubbish made him itch. And he had no concerns about his ability to hold his own in Defense lessons. Even without the dark spells he learned during the war, he felt sure that he was more than a match for the other students.

And thatís essentially the problem, isnít it? He can hold his own. He still has too much pride and cockiness inside of him. He wants to change but he hasnít. Draco is still Draco and thatís what theyíre worried about.

He hasnít grown. Heís a boy whoís going back to school because he saw a cute girl that suddenly made the sun shine a little brighter and he wants to change himself to be better for her. So when he said he was living for himself it wasnít entirely true. Once he does reach that point and the sentence becomes true is when we know Draco has grown up and changed and has become a better person.

Draco pondered what sort of donation could be made to put things right.

And he still wants to use his money (power) to get his way.

What a surprise interaction between Draco and Luna and a twist. Wow. I didnít expect that at all.

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds! Sorry to be pokey about responding. I've been trying to do some writing again -- yay, me! -- and HPFF time has been in short supply.

I doubt that anyone who survived the battle ever felt exactly the same about Hogwarts again. Time would have healed wounds and softened the memories, but that sense of complete safety that they enjoyed under Dumbledore's tenure was gone forever.

Part of the reason that I think McGonagall is so harsh with Draco here is exactly what you're pointing out. She would have been overseeing a very slow and fragile recovery at Hogwarts. All of the students who fought in the battle would have had terrible memories. Even the ones who didn't fight in the battle would remember being terrorized by the Carrows. Into this difficult and tenuous situation, we introduce Draco: a living, breathing reminder of everything that the students -- and faculty -- are struggling to move past.

You're right, Draco is still Draco. He might have changed his opinions about some things, like whether it's worth fighting a war over blood supremacy, but he does still believe in magical superiority. And he believes very strongly in himself because he clearly remembers the trials and horrors he survived. So I have to disagree with you a bit. He has grown, but it's definitely a work in progress. He has a long way to go.

I enjoyed getting to slip a bit of Luna into this very Slytherin-focused story. It's a fun challenge to figure out her perspective because you know it's going to be very different from everyone else's. In this case, she wrong-foots Draco almost as badly as she does you. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #2, by mymischiefmanaged 

20th December 2014:
Hi Dan!

So, I completely forgot that I promised to review your chapters age and ages ago, and got caught up and read the whole thing at once and didn't stop to review. So anyway, I remembered, and here I am. I'll try to slowly catch up :)

This is actually one of my favourite chapters of the whole novel. I love McGonagall's interaction with Malfoy. It's extremely cold, almost so much as to be out of character (but not quite), and shows a side to McGonagall that we don't ever see through Harry's eyes but which is completely believable and compelling. She's efficient and has no patience for people that have hurt others, and her treatment of Malfoy fits in with this. Although reading 'Detox' we can see that Malfoy actually deserves better treatment, I do think the McGonagall we know from canon might behave like this given the circumstances.

And then I just love Isadore. She's a reminder that despite the suffering they've all endured they are still just teenagers, and her friendly chattiness is a real breath of fresh air in the middle of all the angst. I can see how she's the kind of friend Astoria needs, and I like her a lot. She lightens the tone without being silly, and is a wonderful addition to the story.

The behaviour of the other students is sad but also expected, and I loved Luna's defence of Malfoy. It's very in character with what we see of Luna in JK's writing, and shows the sheer love she's able to feel even after all she's been through. Of all of them there, Luna has the most reason to be antagonistic towards Draco specifically, but I love that you kept her calm and moral. Likewise, I'm glad Hermione and Ginny didn't let Malfoy get to them. They're all growing up, and you develop their characters wonderfully.

Finally, Astoria's message gives us a little more insight into who she is. It's a flash of rebellion, I think stoked more than a little by Isadore, and it's just what Malfoy needs after that class. You add in these details and they make it so much clearer how the two of them end up together.

Really fantastic chapter, Dan. And a really fantastic novel. Sorry for not reviewing for so long!

Lots of love,

Emma x

Author's Response: Hi, Emma! And happy holidays!

No worries. I'm really looking forward to your next chapter!

McGonagall's reaction seemed like the only logical one to me. She's less than 1 year removed from a devastating war and less than 2 years removed from the death of her friend and mentor. I'm sure she hasn't forgotten the fact that Draco allowed the Death Eaters into the castle through the Vanishing Cabinet. Beyond all of that, she's overseeing a very fragile recovery at Hogwarts. Having Draco back inside the castle would be an unwelcome reminder for a lot of the other students. Lastly, I'm sure she feels like the Malfoys are trying to use their money to slither back into society just like they did after the first war. The fact that Draco might want something different in life isn't really at the forefront of her mind at this point.

I would have to go back and check, but I think you're the first reviewer who actually likes Isadore. Most people seem to find her rather annoying. She does help to remind us of just how young Astoria is, but you'll see some other sides of her later in the story. In my mind, Isadore is "that friend" that we all have or had who means well but is also chock full of questionable ideas.

You won't see me try to write Luna very often. I find her really intimidating because she's hard to figure out. Even here, I won't claim to fully understand everything that's going on inside her head. I'm really pleased that she sounded right to you, though.

Astoria's message is partly an act of rebellion and partly her way of trying to figure out the puzzle that Draco presents to her. Is he really the awful person her father describes or is he the lost soul she found in Diagon Alley?

I'm really glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #3, by Roisin 

28th July 2014:
I really really liked your description of post-war Hogwarts. I've said it before, but your prose is excellent. The lighter colour of the newer stone; all of those little details were great. I'd always been curious about students returning to school after the war, and you do a really nice job of imagining that situation.

Also, McGonnagall! She would absolutely be frosty and severe with Draco, and I absolutely wouldn't blame her. Yet, I feel sympathy for him anyway. Nicely played!

Also, great that Draco thinks about how he could hold his own in Defense, rather than thinking they might be protecting the other students from *him*. I love how he's both traumatized and seen too much, but also kind of innocent at the same time. And you write his trauma and anxiety really effectively.

Luna was perfect! And heartbreaking! And there's something needlessly satisfying about their conversation. Her reasoning, that the school had seen enough fighting, was precisely Luna-wisdom. And I said before about interpretations on Hermione (which I think are too often influenced by the movies)--yours is really well aligned with the books.

Another overall statement on the story (and I regret that these reviews are so stale--I inhaled the first ten chapters): the way you show Draco growing up and maturing--how he is no longer preoccupied with showing off in front of students or messing with other people. It's interesting that, in order to grow up well, he almost has to become more innocent. His experiences with adult situations being, as they were, so twisted and damaging :(

Author's Response: Hi!

Similar to how I don't think most of the characters survived the war without scars, I'm sure that Hogwarts got the crap beaten out of it during the battle. I am reasonably sure that there were people who felt very strongly that Hogwarts shouldn't be reopened after the war. Too many people lost their lives there. So even though the school did reopen, I'm sure the mood was somber and cautious. To me, the way McGonagall treats Draco is a function of that atmosphere. She's presiding over a very fragile and tenuous recovery at the school. With the exception of the First Year (and Second Year, since they weren't allowed to attend school under Voldemort) muggle-born kids, it's safe to assume that every student at Hogwarts knew at least one person who was hurt or killed in the war. The last thing McGonagall wants is somebody who fought on the other side walking around the castle, reminding everyone of what happened.

Draco is still a bit chippy on the topic of Defense. He definitely has a different sort of "misunderstanding" in mind from what Slughorn is describing.

Whew! Luna is right up there with Dumbledore and Voldemort in terms of the most difficult characters to write. When you read a story with Luna, it's like being in love: you can't explain in words what makes Luna sound like Luna, you just know it when you see it.

Trauma will definitely age a person, no doubt about it. I'm not sure I think of Draco as being more innocent, I think he just had the conceit knocked out of him.

All I can say at this point is that you haven't seen twisted and damaging yet. Of course, if you've read ahead, you know that already. ;) Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #4, by nott theodore 

12th July 2014:
Hi again, Dan!

This was another great chapter here! I don't think it's really slow at all - at least, I didn't find it slow as I read it. Draco's return to Hogwarts is a pretty important event in this story and it was really interesting to read about it.

I think your characterisation of Draco is really brilliant. Obviously you've spent a lot of time on him with writing this story but I think that he's a very believable character from the one that we've seen in the books.

I really liked the way that here, Draco had to confront people face on - when he was in Diagon Alley he knew that people around him were looking at him and blaming him but he didn't know who they were, and didn't have to deal with them directly; that's what makes it much harder here for him to deal with. I liked the way that you wrote their reactions to Draco, though!

I am glad that there was some hope for Draco and Astoria at the end of this chapter, though - I really like the two of them as a pairing so that was great to see!

Sian :)
Gryffindor House Cup 2014 Review

Author's Response: Hi, there!

This one was a bit slow in the sense that it was heavy on narrative and light on action, at least until the end. Still, I'm glad you didn't think that it dragged.

Whew! I always wonder how people are going to see Draco's character. Glad you thought it was believable.

Now that Draco is trying to reengage, the world is suddenly very much up in his face. It isn't pleasant for him, but I think it's necessary if he's going to find the motivation to continue down this path.

If you like the two of them as a pairing, I think you'll enjoy the rest of the story. They certainly have ups and downs along the way, but it's a canon story so you know they get there in the end.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #5, by Veritaserum27 

8th May 2014:
Hi Dan,

Review Tag!

You've been leaving me such wonderful reviews, I thought it was high time I left one for you!

First off, I have to discuss your descriptions. They are absolutely beautiful and amazing. I especially love they way you described Hogwarts with the parts that have been rebuilt and the parts that were still being worked on. I felt like I was there, seeing it right in front of me. You do a fantastic job of *showing* the story instead of simply telling it.

You mentioned that it was a slow chapter, but I don't exactly agree. Quite a lot happened. First off, we have Draco's return to Hogwarts. I particularly liked the part where he collapses in the snow. Perhaps, I'm over thinking it, but I felt like this was another step in his "Detox" process. Almost like he needs to have these breakdowns along the way to his recovery - be it from the physical addiction of the alcohol or, in this case, "detoxing" himself from his dirty past.

Also, we meet Isodore (love the name!) and can see that her friendship with Astoria is so important to both girls, but they are also both dealing with the fallout from the war. That is a lovely touch, how you manage to portray that there were truly victims from both sides and that war is never a simple as good versus bad.

Also in this chapter, we see that reality smacks Draco hard in the face. McGonagall's reaction was harsh - it even caught me by surprise. I think Dumbledore would have been a bit more forgiving, but he was the true, kind educator to the very end, wasn't he?

I really enjoyed the appearance of Ginny, Hermione and Luna. You stayed true to each of their characters. It is so like Luna to consider unwanted beef stew as a gift and a favor that needed to be returned! Oh, and we get to learn a little about Narcissa - I gasped at the realization that she was sending food to the prisoners. I had pictured her as a person who focused solely on her son and husband, to the exclusion of all else. I am intrigued (almost as much as Draco was) to learn more about her.

Through the entire chapter, you have also been true to Draco's character. Through all the humiliation and discomfort, he still remains arrogant and a little hot-tempered. Although, I do see a bit of courage poking through every now and again. I suppose he will need some of that in the future.

Of course, I couldn't help but let out a little squee when I saw that you left us with a tiny bit of hope. I can't wait for the Hogsmeade trip!

Thanks for the great read!


Author's Response: Hi, Beth!

I experimented a lot with Detox. One of the bigger items I tried was the style of keeping dialog completely separated from the surrounding text and not using any tag verbs. Because of that, I felt like I had to work harder on the descriptions and visual imagery to make sure that the reader didn't lose track of what was going on.

Draco does a lot of "three steps forward, two steps back" in this story. I agree with you that his first visit back to Hogwarts was ultimately a step forward, but it was a difficult one.

I'm glad you liked Isadore in this chapter because I'm not sure you'll like her as much by the time it's all over. She does fill a pretty important niche for Astoria. She's "that friend" who challenges Astoria's preconceived notions about things, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way.

Reality hits Draco really hard in this chapter. When he was walking around Diagon Alley, getting dirty looks, at least those people were far away in a relative sense. In this chapter, the people who loathe him are in his face. I spent a fair bit of time trying to decide how to write McGonagall's reaction. She is an immensely fair-minded person and above all else, she's an educator. Two things swayed me to write her as harshly as I did. First, I'm sure she hasn't forgotten that it was Draco who let the other Death Eaters into Hogwarts on the night Dumbledore died. Even though his death was planned, the physical and mental damage to the other students and teachers was immense. Second, McGonagall is nurturing a very gradual, very fragile recovery at Hogwarts. I'm sure a lot of parents struggled long and hard with the decision of whether to send their children back to school after the war. And nearly everyone in the castle -- even the Slytherins -- probably lost a friend or loved one during the war. As a marked Death Eater from a family of Death Eaters, Draco would have been a walking, talking reminder of the horrors of the war. I'm sure McGonagall didn't want him disrupting the normality that she was trying to restore to life at Hogwarts.

I'm glad you feel like I've stayed true to Draco's character. That was really, really important to me. I don't like stories that white-wash his character or portray him as some sort of arch-villain. Draco was neither of these things. He's a very complicated character, and the prejudices that make him complicated aren't likely to ever go away.

Yes, there is hope for Draco and Astoria. You'll find out more over the next few chapters.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #6, by 800 words of heaven 

5th May 2014:

Itís been a really long time since I read this story, and Iíve missed it :( I really need to get better at regularly reviewing stories, because I know how much I love feedback and it sort of makes me a horrible author for not doing the same. But, anyway! I am here!

Dracoís worry about being recognised and his struggle to get readmitted to Hogwarts made me think of something. It must be so difficult for people who were on the ďlosingĒ side of a war. A lot of the time, these people were not directly involved in the conflict, but are still negatively associated with it. I love this aspect of the story, how it makes me think about the repercussions and aftermath of big calamities. The struggles and bigger themes are very applicable to daily life, and thatís a real pleasure to read.

I remember you mentioning in my last review that this wasnít going to be a ďDraco getting betterĒ story, and with Dracoís symptoms of PTSD, I think I have a better understanding of where you might be taking this character. I love how youíre portraying him as more complex, blurring the lines between ďgoodĒ and ďevilĒ as they are, making him far more human. Itís obvious that he hasnít given up in all his beliefs from before the war, be they good or bad, and Iím really looking forward to his ensuing struggle with those beliefs being challenged by others and himself. I think the biggest drawcard for me about this story is that I really want to know where he ends up at the end. What is he going to be like?

The extreme reaction of Minerva McGonagall really has me as surprised as Draco. They really donít like him, do they? I can understand limiting his interaction with the student body in order to facilitate the recovery of the students, for which he is partially responsible, but McGonagallís reactionÖ threw me. At first, I was like, ďwhat? No! This isnít the McGonagall I know and loveĒ but then I was thought that sheíd also lost people for which she cared, and after all, she is human. Sheís allowed to grieve and be angry.

For some reason, I had an insane fit of giggling at the mental image of Isadoreís crazy cat lady aunt.

Oh, my goodness! I love the way you write Slughorn! Heís a little self-absorbed and very materialistic, and Iím just fangirling over the way you show these characteristics in his speech and mannerisms. So awesome!

Ooh! Clandestine meetings between Astoria and Draco! Iím sort of excited and anticipating awkward teenage communication, but also at the same time dreading the possible second-hand embarrassment. Especially now that we know that Astoria fancies DracoÖ And Draco is also quite the awkward turtle. Lots of chances for second-hand embarrassment to look forward to!

Author's Response: Hi, there!

I'm glad the story made enough of an impression that you remembered it. I'll take that as a compliment. :)

I tried really hard to paint a realistic picture of what life was like for the losing side of the war. Far too many post-war stories have Draco continuing to behave exactly the way he did before the war with no consequences whatsoever. (Or worse still, becoming a completely different person.) I'm sure that even the old, pureblood families who didn't support Voldemort experienced a certain amount of backlash. Too many people suffered too much for that not to have happened.

It isn't going to be *solely* a Draco getting better story, although I hope you'll see his character make some progress by the end. He is definitely suffering from PTSD after his own fashion. I believe that it affects everyone differently, and one of the biggest symptoms in Draco's case is uncontrollable bursts of anger. I'm really glad that you don't find him to be purely "good" or "evil", but rather a mix. That's exactly what I was going for. By the end of Deathly Hallows, I did think of him as a very complex character. He was mostly able to differentiate between right and wrong but he'd been conditioned his entire life to believe that his father's beliefs were right, no matter who got hurt.

At this early point in the story, I imagined McGonagall being in a position where she was nurturing a very fragile recovery at Hogwarts. So many people lost their lives before and during the final battle and the school, itself, suffered so much damage. If JKR had written in the epilogue that Hogwarts was converted into a memorial to those killed in the war and a new school was opened, I think most readers would have accepted it. Emotions must have been very raw during that first year back. I bet nearly every corridor in the school held an awful memory for at least one or two students. Into this touchy, emotionally charged situation, the school's Governors have just decided to inject a young man who personally fought for Lord Voldemort along with his entire family. If I was McGonagall, I would have been beyond furious.

Lots of witches and wizards keep cats as familiars. I just decided to throw in a touch of crazy, old muggle lady in Isadore's aunt's case.

I think you're the first reader to comment on Slughorn, and I'm glad you liked him.

Yes, there is a clandestine meeting coming up very soon. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #7, by TheHeirOfSlytherin 

13th March 2014:

Draco's commitment to try is commendable, at least enough for me to be glad that he's doing so. I'd be freaked if my head had become filled with horrible memories of war, and yet he still got up. The Malfoy way is a powerful thing, don't you think? :P

McGonagall can be very scary when she's strict and angry, and I know she has pretty much every reason to be, but I felt this really strong need to defend Draco somehow. You made me care for him and his road to redemption - can I blame you for it? :P

(I don't blame you and your awesome abilities as a writer to make me care, but shhh, no one else needs to know that. ;))

See, people can be good to their house elves. I like that our versions of Astoria have things in common. (One day, I'll tell you a bit of headcanon about what my Astoria does to Draco.)

I never thought of Theo having a sister, or any sibling, before, mine is far too selfish to put up with one. He'd never share. But I'm glad, I like that there is more than one in the family and I hope their relationship can get better one day.

Oh, Astoria! I just know that you two are going to be perfect together. He's so handsome and mysterious and he has those beautiful grey eyes...- Girls... :P

Was it possible for someone to spend so much time surrounded by darkness and death and still turn out alright - That is a very good question. I hope the answer will be yes. (I'm pretending I don't know the epilogue and can't make a guess at the answer.)

Two wrongs do not make a right. Silly Gryffindors. Go Luna for being there and being able to stop it. I love Luna and your version of her after the war is already an intriguing one. I hope there'll be more of her (from you, one day, maybe). :D

Ooooh, Astoria and Hogsmeade. I look forward to reading that!

I'm so excited for more. I'll be back!

...But don't tell anyone I'm here, alright? I should be edited Silver Linings, not reading Detox with a jar of Nutella. Everything's better with Nutella. :D


Author's Response: I won't tell a soul, OK? ;) Our little secret...

The Malfoy Way is sort of a powerful thing, if you think about it. It's an iron-willed insistence on never admitting defeat, even if you're pretty well defeated already. Draco is far from defeat, however, as we'll see.

You know, I never wrote this story to make people feel sorry for Draco, per se. He still has plenty of bad traits, some very prejudiced viewpoints and enough arrogance to suffocate a horse. But even at that, life was pretty awful to him at times. I just wanted to try to keep him balanced.

Astoria doesn't seem like the type to be mean to her house elves, at least not to me. I'm sure it was a point of contention between her and Draco from time to time.

Theo does indeed have a sister here, although anyone who's immersed in your Theo probably wouldn't recognize mine. Mine's not a very nice guy. Isadore is very much a "Girls..." girl.

I always enjoy writing Luna in cameo appearances, although I think writing something long about her would be incredibly hard. Getting Luna to sound like Luna for more than a few sentences would be next to impossible.

I'm excited to see what you think of the Hogsmeade visit. It doesn't go as planned...

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #8, by SilentConfession 

21st December 2013:
Hi! Sorry for the wait with this review, I was trying to write for the Winter Duel and finish off another chapter for one of my own stories. Many apologies.

So this chapter was another really well thought out one. I thought you brought up so many issues Draco would have had to deal with post war so brilliantly and flawlessly. Which makes me love this story even more as i've always imagined his life after to to quite difficult. I remember in the books how there was quite a bit of derision for individuals who were thought to have got off scott free from the first war and that same derision I believe would have intensified after the second war. Draco was caught in the midst of it. His very presence at the school seems to spit into the faces of the families that were torn apart. Especially so soon after. It's like tearing into their very fragile wounds and ripping them open again. I think you handled all of this so very well. It wouldn't be easy to see a suspected Death Eater roam Hogwarts just as it's being rebuilt because it's this constant reminder of what happened and who got away.

Saying that, it is really believable that people would react the way they did. Part of me feels bad that the Gryffindor's reacted that way, but it is so in character for a Gryffindor to get into other's faces. Also, completely understandable, given the fact that his very presence served as such a reminder. No one would be happy to see someone who was a bully, follower of Voldemort, and pureblood supremacist still around and unpunished. I think it goes against most people's sensibilities. (Even though we'd all like to believe we'd give people mercy and second chances, if it came down to it, i think many would react the same in that situation.) You handled that like a boss. I also like how Draco doesn't seem all that reformed yet. He can tell that something has got to give, but it doesn't mean he's left behind his old thinking. He also briefly thinks about relying on his old habits after McGonagall tells him off (thinking of going to tell his father!)

I think you handled McGonagall fairly well. She's such a difficult character to get properly. I think her anger is justified and her stance is a stance she would have taken post war. I like how this is hard for him and that people aren't ready to believe in him and his want for change. It's so much more interesting to see this struggle where he's still very clearly arrogant and rude to muggle borns (loved that line about the filthy muggle borns etc, it was striking to see exactly where he stands on the issue now, also, it is so Draco and it's nice to see that he isn't any sort of saint even after the war!). I think, however, that there were parts in McGonagall's speech that didn't have enough professional detachment. It could be explained away quite easily, however, i've always seen McGonagall as quite classy when it comes to this sort of thing. Those few sentences where she's calling him a DE and a coward. Although she would have thought that, it was there I felt she lost some of her professional detachment and attitude. The rest of it though was spot on.

I liked the moments with Astoria. I thought it was interesting to see more of her childish side. I thought you captured typical teen girls fairly well as well. More to the point, Isobel made a very valid point. I think that it was really striking to hear her say it. It brings a lot of light to what individuals who supported Voldemort must have been experiencing post war. This includes Draco obviously. They are all scarred in their own way, had their own demons to fight after their horrible decisions.

Very quickly I wanted to mention Luna. Such a lovely job you've done with her. I could literally 'hear' her accent with her dialogue. It all seemed very her and only she'd put a stop to that display. Very well done.

Really great chapter here. You've really dove into some really great topics and explored them with expertise. You've made this a very complex story with complex and interesting characters. I like how you're making it so clear how many families were hurt and how that hurt doesn't quite go away . You can really feel this story if you know what I mean. Thank you so much for re-requesting!!

Author's Response: Hi! So glad that you're enjoying the story! And please, don't ever apologize. The fact that you offer your time to help authors grow and improve is awesome!

You pretty much hit all of my thoughts exactly. I expect that there were some pretty big social shifts after the war. Anyone from the "old families" who didn't end up in Azkaban would have been viewed with a lot of suspicion and possibly even overt anger by the survivors who were terrorized by the Death Eaters. On the flip side, Draco's presence at Hogwarts would have seemed like a slap in the face to everyone who fought in the battle or lost a loved one. It's a very emotionally charged situation.

The two Gryffindors responded harshly, but I think that's the life that everyone at the school became used to under Snape and the Carrows. I'm guessing that the Slytherins faced little to no consequences for attacking their fellow students, so it was probably "curse or be cursed" a lot of the time for the Gryffindors. That would have to be hard to move past, even after four months of Hogwarts being back to "normal", whatever that is for Hogwarts.

I argued with myself quite a bit on how to handle McGonagall. In the end, I think my biggest deciding factor was how much she personally lost that she would have blamed on Draco and his family. Draco let the Death Eaters into the castle at the end of HPB, after all. From her point of view, since she presumably didn't know about Dumbledore's master plan, Draco was directly responsible for the death of her beloved mentor and friend. Combine that with all of the other deaths and injuries and I can imagine her professional detachment slipping more than a bit. But you're right, that last bit might have been a little over the top.

I really feel like I put Astoria on too much of a pedestal in the first chapter, so I spend a lot of the next few trying to bring her back to a realistic age and level of maturity. I'm glad you thought they seemed like realistic teen girls, since I've obviously never been one myself. ;)

Whew! Writing Luna is sort of like being in love. You can't explain in words what makes Luna sound like Luna, you just know it when you read it. Again, whew!

Thank you so much for the lovely review! I really appreciate all of the thoughts and feedback!

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Review #9, by Rumpelstiltskin 

20th December 2013:
I'm selfishly snagging your Review Tag post.

Draco's evidently having a rough start at turning his life around; nobody said it would be easy, however. I feel for him, despite that most of his troubles were a fault of his own. His inability to abandon his family (or perhaps mostly his mother) during the war seemed to label him as a coward. Of course, his actions were perceived as those of a coward, not to mention becoming a Death Eater. I suppose I'm just having torn feelings for Draco right now. I don't know whether to support McGonagall, despite her acerbity, or to support Draco for attempting to better himself.

Given that the store centers around Draco and Astoria, I suppose the latter would be the best choice.

I believe that Astoria's supportive personality will assist Draco greatly. How could it not? At this point in the story, it's almost as if nearly everybody is against Draco, and he desperately needs someone (with positive influence) by his side. Of course, its perfectly understandable why most people would be skeptical of him; he was a Death Eater.

I really enjoy Astoria and Isadore's interactions. They form a decent friendship, with enough opposing personalities to keep their conversations humorous and interesting, and enough likenesses to make their relationship believable. Not only that, but Isadore makes a very valid point at the end of that segment.

Poor Draco. He's being targeted even when he was minding his own business. Of course, I almost want to say that it echos his own bullying before the war (*cough* and that he deserves it *cough*) but it seems so much more threatening that Draco ever was.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that Luna came to Draco's defense. She is exceedingly kind-she's even grateful that he threw stew at her.

This was definitely a great chapter!


Author's Response: Hello, again!

I doubt even Draco assumed that turning his life around would be easy, although he probably didn't think it would be quite this hard, either. Life gave him a huge reality check in this one. It is ironic that his loyalty to his family was one of the things that people condemn him for. More on that point in a couple of chapters, actually.

Astoria will be a huge help to Draco, both directly and indirectly. Although the direct part doesn't come for a while.

Isadore does make a good point every now and again. Mostly, however, she's that friend who helps you spot the bad ideas because they sound so unbelievably bad when they're coming from her.

Draco probably does deserve a lot of the ill treatment that's being heaped upon him in this chapter, but not all of it. He was legitimately trying to mind his own business when the two Gryffindor boys were about to attack him. Thank goodness for Luna. If not for her... unique perspective, something bad would have happened.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #10, by UnluckyStar57 

19th December 2013:
Chapter Three certainly holds lots of interesting new things! :D

The opening, in which Draco returned mentally to the night of the battle, was really powerful. He's still so messed up, and he's got a lot of work to do on himself! I loved how you described the outside of the castle, with the new structures sharply contrasting with the old. It definitely gave Draco a good shock, which is probably exactly what he needed. He's like a cowardly criminal who hasn't been punished by law, returning to the scene of the crime--where he gets the REAL punishment: knowing that he is guilty of being on the wrong side in the war.

This fact is only continued by Minerva McGonagall's harsh treatment of him. I, for one, was a bit shocked at her biting orders and almost-cruel way of laying down the law, but I totally understand. Even the tight-lipped Head of Gryffindor House can be known to play favorites, and Draco was not one of them even before he became a Death Eater. I think that her words showed some of that favoritism--a lack thereof towards Draco--and it makes sense. She watched some of her babies die, and when she was offered a chance to go face-to-face with one of the students who did things that were the exact opposite of brave and just, she made the most of it. Draco needed that--actually, I think that all the abuse he's getting is good for him, to a degree (but hopefully it'll lighten up as the story progresses--nobody likes abuse!).

About Astoria and Isadore: I have observed my peers, and though I don't really participate (maybe I do a little bit...), I can tell that there's nothing that entertains and enlightens so much as gossip. Isadore is that friend (everybody has one!) who just HAS to know all about Astoria's feelings/love life, simply because she cares (AND because she likes knowing things). I'm really glad that Astoria was a bit unwilling to answer all of her friend's questions--as much fun as it is to talk about oneself, it is also fun (and sometimes necessary) to keep your own secrets. Just going on a hunch here--I presume that you are NOT a teenage girl, however, you wrote the conversation very accurately!

Oooh, those Gryffindor boys made me mad! I mean, they have a right to be angry about the war and sad for all of the destruction it caused, but they didn't need to direct all of their anger at Draco. In many ways, they echo the barman and the customers at the Leaky Cauldron back in the first chapter--they are citizens who stood for the winning side, and whenever they see a member of the losing side, they want to crush the losers again. They acted in a terrible manner, but I understand WHY they did. Thank Merlin for Luna Lovegood!

Speaking of Luna, she was absolutely great! In her Luna fashion, she put a stop to the trouble that was brewing. Shoutout to the Gryffindor guy who took it upon himself to tell Slughorn that the disagreement wasn't her fault! She is a peacekeeper, the voice of reason in post-war Hogwarts. It seems funny that reason should come from Luna Lovegood, but after all, reason speaks as it pleases. Luna seems to have lost some of her airiness since the war--but hey! She spent months in a basement, and that's enough to kill even the bravest of people. I know that you wouldn't be so stereotypical, but THANK YOU SO MUCH for not even mentioning Nargles. Post-war Luna has bigger fish to fry now. :)

Well, that's all for now! See you next chapter!


Author's Response: Hello, again!

It's still really messy inside Draco's head. I'm glad that came through clearly. His first sight of the castle since the end of the war triggers a flashback of sorts. Dealing with that was definitely a sort of punishment.

McGonagall is beyond angry at the fact that Draco is being allowed to return to school. In my mind, she was presiding over a very young and fragile recovery at Hogwarts. All of the returning students had to deal with so much trauma and death during the prior school year. The wizarding world is not very large, population-wise. I imagine that every one of them knows at least one person who was tortured, injured or killed by the Death Eaters. Draco is a living, breathing reminder of that suffering, and he's walking around the castle, taking classes. She doesn't want her students to have to deal with that. And she knows full well that Draco is only being allowed back because of his parents' money. All in all, not a recipe for a happy Minnie. ;)

I'm glad that the conversation between Astoria and Isadore sounded right to you. I had quite a bit of help fine-tuning the teenage girl-talk from Jami and sophie, so a lot of credit goes to them. You are correct that I am not a teenage girl, nor have I ever been one. So it tickles me pink that it all worked.

Luna is definitely in the right place at the right time, and that's a good thing for Draco. Gah, I can't tell you how relieved I am that she sounded right. There's no way to put into words what it means for something to sound like Luna. It either sounds like her or it doesn't. Dumbledore is the same way. Scary stuff. I think she is a bit more grounded after surviving the war, but part of that is also just from growing up. She's pretty hard to shake.

Thank you so very much for the lovely review! Until next time...

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Review #11, by APerkins 

11th November 2013:
Hi so,

have I told you lately that I love you-r writing? I do, I really do. I dont like Astoria, I dont like this romance, and I was dreading coming back to reread this chapter cause I have this awful awful prejudice in my head that this was a romance between Astoria and Draco. And there is so much more there to enjoy! I am so glad! I may even continue reading it! christmas fun!

Also, thankyou very very much for letting me steal the idea of food supplies to Luna and Ollivander! It is really very very generous of you. I had forgotten most of the details you had here, I really like that Draco threw a bowl of stew at them as opposed to actually fed them. Its kinda nasty! I love Luna, she is so uncompromising - the world is always seen through her eyes and she just says things the way they are.
I like the Malfoy in the pub with his mates scene- its well written, as always your dialogue always makes me so happy when I read it. Its so easy. You keep inspiring me to aim higher with my writing. thankyou.

Also, I think the line of Isadores' - asking Astoria not to judge her family so harshly. It was perfect. It could not have been done better. It is this thud back to reality. Not all bad guys are all bad. It makes me a little sad, and I think that was the point.
Well done.

I dont like Astoria mainly because there is nothing for her to actually like in draco at this point. Why would she? I would have loved her - like Luna - to have had something to soften her feelings towards him.

you said in the first chapter she was being viewed through Dracos drunk eyes as an angel, a little bit too good to be true - but now we are looking at her. And I still can't see what has happened to spark the attraction.

I hope you dont pay too much attention to me in that regard. I cant stand romance. bitter, twisted, cynical, completely biased :) probably what you have written is awesome, and I just cant bring myself to admit it.

No. what you have written IS brilliant. There is no probably about it. And I will bring myself to admit it. Well done! :)


Author's Response: Hi!

It's a bit tricky, navigating this review and deciding how to respond to the various parts of it. I guess I'll start with the obvious thing: romance isn't for everyone, and I'm glad you've found parts of the story that you like in spite of the fact that it's predominantly a love story.

Like I said in the PM, it's actually a bit flattering that other people would see ideas in my stories and think that they're worth picking up and running with them. The world is a very straightforward place when viewed through Luna's eyes. It's one of the things I love about her. She has that way of taking very complex situations and cutting to the heart of the matter.

I hope you keep finding Isadore to be a useful character. Readers have had very mixed opinions of her. I think of her as a friend who makes Astoria think, sometimes for good reasons and sometime for not-so-good reasons.

Astoria has a bit of a schoolgirl crush at this point in the story. Draco is a couple of years older than her, he's handsome and he's mysterious. She also found him in a rather pitiful state, sort of like you'd find an abandoned puppy. Don't worry, they'll have their good and bad moments by the end.

Ha! We all feel that way about romance at times, at least I do. Part of the challenge for me in writing this was Jami wanting to see a story about how Draco and Astoria fell in love. So I did my best. ;)

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #12, by Pixileanin 

4th October 2013:
Slow chapters... pfft! There should be no slow chapters. Only slow reviewers. *cough* Sorry about that. I'm back for another chapter here. Let's see if I can string some intelligible words together.

Draco really had to have a huge amount of resolve to overcome his angst about returning to Hogwarts. He'd probably had loads of practice at doing things he hated, so I'm sure the revulsion and dread was like an old friend, but still extremely uncomfortable. I'm glad that you're not stopping to justify his position, or even ask the reader a tiny bit to feel sorry for the guy. I know I said I felt that way a bit in the last chapter, but you're not asking us to. That way, it comes across as much more genuine and personal. The way you write him here, we can't help but fall into his shoes for a moment.

The crazy cinematic falling to his knees in the snow... I could see it, and so did McGonigal probably. No one who was looking would miss a display like that. I like how you made the headmistress tough and no-nonsense. We're not getting any glint of sympathy or concern from her like she'd give to one of her own, and Draco doesn't deserve it. He doesn't deserve anything and he knows it.

And after all that, I think the sweetness in Astoria just about kills me. Hehee. At this point in the story, I just can't see Draco and her in the same room, much less having anything to discuss with one another that wouldn't be ridiculously awkward. You've set these two characters so FAR apart in my opinion that you've made the mere act of saying "hello" to each other as realistic as a fanciful pipe dream. And I know they're Slytherins and all, but Isadore seems to be the type who might go so far as to fangirl over a serial killer if he wore the right shade of green and put a swipe of gel in his hair. Ugh, girls. If she didn't have such a strong point on throwing blanket judgments on everyone, I might have had to throw fruit. The red, staining kind. I think raspberries are good for that. Bing cherries. They have pits and a longer trajectory. Split them open a bit, and... anyway.

Back to the story. Where was I?

I thought Slughorn was a great choice for a less-biased authority figure to usher Draco into the castle. You know, I really feel that Draco doesn't need any further training in Defense. I think that surviving the war should automatically give one a NEWT level certificate of some kind. The reactions of his classmates were highly appropriate, and no doubt tested Draco's resolve to play nice within the castle walls. It was a nice surprise that Luna was there to intervene. She's not one to hold misplaced grudges.

Ok, I see what you did there. That was cute with the flames and the shy smile and the larger metaphor.

I should try to get back here more often. Where was the slow in this? :)

Author's Response: Hi, pix!

It did take a lot of guts for Draco to try to come back, although in typical Draco fashion his expectations were a little too lofty. McGonagall addresses those expectations pretty quickly and lets him know what he's really in for. I wouldn't dream of asking the reader to feel sorry for him because honestly I want the reader to make up his or her own mind. Draco is still not a good person in most any sense of the term. He bought his way back into school, simple as that. Nobody wants him there, including McGonagall.

It's certainly going to take a while for Draco and Astoria to come together. That said, I hope she doesn't come across **too much** as being all sweetness and light. She's a Slytherin, after all. More of her traits will come out later.

OK, I get it. Isadore isn't exactly your favorite at this point. I'm glad I gave you just a bit of hope with her bit about blanket judgments. She will be useful later on. Trust me on this. ;)

Poor old Sluggy just sort of keeps doing what he does without overthinking things. In that respect, he is a pretty good match for Draco. I really wish I could find a way to write some good Luna moments into *every* story I write. She's awesome. She brings so much clarity to every situation.

Well, this chapter was pretty slow compared to the first one and especially compared to what's coming up next. I hope you get a chance to check it out. The pace picks up considerably.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #13, by MissesWeasley123 

30th September 2013:

This chapter was brilliant!

Your beginning section, was so, so well done. You used minimal dialogue - none actually - and yet I was there with Draco, making my way through the packed snow. You truly have talent like no other! The scenes you paint are always so vivid and just.. *sighs dreamily* They are literally whip cream with a cherry on top. They add so much more.

This story, is one I cannot skim through. I've been guilty of doing that way too much recently.. but this story, I don't want to skim. Everything's just so fabulous and.. yeah. :)

Your characterization is bang on as always. McGonagall was so well done, and.. ahh I just couldn't gush any more about her. I'd end up rambling lol, she was perfect.

I think you pulled off the girl talk with Isadora and Astoria really well! I liked the pang of jealousy she felt - it made it so much more real for me.

After er - "killing off" Luna in the other one, I think you did great stuff with her this. She's just so brilliant and made of awesomeness that I absolutely adore her. I'm also very curious as to who might have sent Kriffin to give her some food.. hmm.. I'll take a wild guess and go with... Narcissa. Yeah :D

Hogsmeade! YAY! It's a date! Well, not really but, I'm so excited for this! I just hope Draco doesn't mess this up for himself...

Jumping back to a bit earlier in the chapter,I think the conditions McGonagall put forth to Draco were very well justified and super intelligent of you to come up with. I can completely understand why she would do that - her disgust is very evident. I would be disgusted also.

Alas, this review has come to an end! I'll be back tomorrow, I'm taking this piece one at a time! Great chapter as always!

Author's Response: Hello, again!

I'm a big Luna fan, myself. She's a huge challenge. More on that later, though.

Throughout this story, I've tried to use dialog in a different way than what I'm used to. That's why I haven't used any dialog tags and the dialog always stands alone in its own paragraph. In some of my early attempts, I felt like I was relying too much on dialog to tell the story. This story has been an interesting experiment. Very frustrating at times. But also rewarding at other times.

McGonagall is another intimidating character to write, so I'm really glad that you liked her. I wanted it to be crystal clear that she's furious about Draco being allowed to return to Hogwarts after he fought on the other side during the war. Harry might have forgiven the Malfoys because of what Narcissa did during the final battle, but in my mind there were plenty of people who did not.

Lots and lots of credit for the girl talk between Astoria and Isadore belongs to my pal Jami and my beta reader sophie. They've both chipped in with a lot of constructive criticism and suggestions. Isadore will be back several more times and the girl talk only gets more interesting. At least **I hope** it's interesting.

And then there's Luna. Part of why I love her is that I find it so hard to get her to sound right. Luna is sort of like love and modern art: you can't explain in words what makes Luna sound like Luna, you just know it when you see it. And yes, it was Narcissa who ordered Kriffin to bring her food.

The big date will play out over the next two chapters. Be forewarned, it gets off to a bit of a rocky start. ;)

I'm so glad that you're enjoying the story! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #14, by Sharvi 

11th August 2013:
Honestly, I'm so happy that you made Draco go through all that trouble. I've seen personally that even the best people don't have it in them to forgive those even remotely involved with the "bad" regime, like they don't deserve a chance to better themselves. Also, another great chapter!

Author's Response: I couldn't imagine that Draco's life after the war would be easy. People aren't going to be quick to either forgive or forget.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #15, by Debra20 

29th July 2013:
Hello! I am back. I never thought the day would come when I'd say I am obsessed with a Draco story haha. It's not that there isn't the possibility that others could handle his character well, just that I haven't found them yet. In my opinion, he is a very daunting project, which makes me admire you even more for having plunged into the icy cold water that is a story focusing on Draco ;) In part because many people seem to have a fixed image of him and they're not willing to bend this image to give him more depth, to make him other than the ex silly, reckless, malicious Death Eater that now comes back with his tail between his legs. He is so much more than that, and it makes me incredibly happy to see you 'take him on' so to say :P

Wow. I am in complete shock. I mean, I expected Draco's return to Hogwarts to be rocky, but this is beyond even what I imagined. I actually felt really bad for him, and for the first time in history, I felt like punching some Gryffindors. When does that happen?? Never haha You're doing wonders with Draco, truly. I think my favourite part must have been Luna defending him. I think I even squealed in delight when I read that someone finally jumped to his aid *shy smile* It really felt like something Luna would do, because she doesn't forget a favour and she certainly doesn't sit back and let someone be bullied, even if her intervention is something mild and not hazardous like Harry's 'come to the rescue'

I LOOVED the moment when Draco jumped from his stool to follow Astoria. I am now giddy imagining their meeting in Hogsmeade.

Author's Response: Hi! Wow, you are threatening to make my head swell to unprecedented proportions. Seriously, I really appreciate all of the nice things you have to say. I agree that there's a lot more to Draco's character than the way that he's often written. I don't like stories that make him one-dimensional, whether he's cast as an evil, unrepentant Death Eater at one extreme or as a misunderstood story of redemption at the other. I think he's a lot more complicated.

I never thought for a moment that things were going to be easy when Draco decided to try to reintegrate into "normal" wizarding society. Hogwarts is a place that holds bad memories for Draco and bad memories of Draco. In my mind, I feel like there's a very fragile recovery taking root at Hogwarts, a return to something resembling pre-war normality for the students and staff. Draco's presence would certainly tend to disrupt that recovery and McGonagall doesn't want him in the castle. But the governors of the school have spoken, so she's limited to simply making his attendance as unpleasant for him as possible.

I was pleased with the way that Luna turned out. That's never a given. You just start writing her and hope for the best, because to me there's no "right" or "wrong" way to go about it. You just do it and then you go back and read what you wrote and it either sounds like her or it doesn't.

I'm glad you like Draco and Astoria together. You'll see more of that soon.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #16, by Courtney Dark 

4th July 2013:
I really, really enjoyed the chapter!

You actually managed to make me feel very sorry for Draco, when he was talking to McGonagall. Of course, I definitely understood her harshness but that didn't mean that I didn't feel bad for Draco - I think things would definitely be a lot easier for him if the whole world didn't seem to hate him.

I loved the potions lesson, mainly because we got to see so many familiar faces. When the two Gryffindor seventh years walked in, my immediate thought was that one of them was Colin Creevey...and then I remembered that Colin is dead - sob! :( Anyway, it was cool to see you involving a couple of very minor canon characters...and then when Luna came in, I let out a loud cheer - in my head, of course. I've attempted writing Luna before, and found it extremely difficult to get her character just right, without making her too random and loopy. I think you are doing a very good job so far! I am also curious to see whether Draco has any unpleasant encounters with Ginny or Hermione. I can definitely see Ginny's temper getting the best of her!

I definitely liked the nervous of tension that surrounded Draco in this chapter. I can't say that I'd like to be in his shoes at the moment - but he is definitely putting on a brave face, that's for sure!

Again, I liked the Astoria section. I think she is definitely a very interesting character, partly because I know next to nothing about her, and I liked the introduction of her friend, Isadore, who is amazingly girly, especially considering she is a Nott. But I definitely agreed with her comment: ďIt was a war, Astoria. Lots of people made really awful choices. My father will spend the rest of his life in Azkaban and my brother... heís like a stranger now. We barely speak any more. Do you think that makes me a bad person?Ē

I told myself I was going to stop reading after this chapter, as I'm supposed to be working on an assignment, however I don't think I can resist reading another chapter...


Author's Response: Hello again!

Hmmnn... I'm not sure whether I want anyone to feel sorry for Draco or not. He definitely earned the contempt that McGonagall and the rest of the world feels for him. I'm glad that her harshness made sense. In my mind, she's trying very hard to protect a very delicate recovery going on at Hogwarts. Draco's presence in the castle would be a constant reminder of what the students and teachers lost during the war.

The potions lesson was fun to write. Probably the hardest thing was being mindful of what Draco would have known and would not have known, so I couldn't name the two Gryffindor boys right away. I agree, poor Colin! Luna was fun to write because Luna is always fun to write. Scary, too. You're never quite sure whether she sounds right until you set the chapter down for a while and then go back and read it. I think it's impossible to explain what makes Luna sound like Luna. It's like modern art or being in love: you just know it when you see it.

Isadore is a lot of fun to write, but she does occasionally have a serious side, too. I tend to think of her as a character that helps Astoria out by being sort of a mirror that Astoria can look into and see some of her own bad tendencies reflected back at her.

Well, as much as I hate to interfere with your schoolwork, I'm really glad that you're enjoying the story so much! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #17, by Dark Whisper 

18th April 2013:

You are really good at painting pictures for your readers. I loved your descriptions of Hogwarts and his feelings at seeing it once again.

The rules are understandably strict while being realistic. Reactions from the students were really done well also.

Poor Luna. You give us a glimpse of what happened to her while at Malfoy Manor and it is tragic, indeed. You've written her so true to her peculiar mannerisms. She doesn't think like the masses... case in point with the stew he basically threw at her. It was cruel of him, but she so was hungry, she didn't care and thought of it as an act of kindness. Wow on that storyline. Regrets, indeed.

Draco certainly has a degree of Post Traumatic Stress from what he went through. I feel it is very fitting and although tragic, it is something that I enjoy reading... great depth and potential in his character.

Great job,
Dark Whisper

Author's Response: Hi, there!

For starters, you can just call me Dan if you prefer. My penname is kind of a mouthful.

I'm glad you liked the descriptions of the castle. I played with those a lot before I was happy with them.

Luna seemed like a really good person to extend a small olive branch to Draco while making him think about his past choices at the same time. She's awesome like that. I wish I could put her in every story I write.

I don't think there's any doubt that Draco is suffering from PTSD. Anyone in his situation probably would be. The psychological impact of the war on the canon characters is ignored far too often in post-war fics, I think.

I'm really glad that you're enjoying the story. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #18, by Flavia 

15th April 2013:
Ok, sorry I've been a bit slow, I decided to read all the validated chapters and then come back and review them.

I was surprised at first that McGonagall was so rough on Draco, but then I remembered that she wouldn't know what Harry or Snape or Dumbledore knew about him and her actions are sort of justified then. I liked your interpretation of her, she felt tlike the McGonagall we all know and love. Her comment about how she thinks the governors were wrong to let Draco back in the school reminded me of when she'd stand up to really don't want to get on Minerva McGonagall's bad side, do you?

Astoria's thoughts about Draco were very realistic and genuine. You've captured her quite well as this young, idealistic yet very strong girl, and despite the madness that is still going on in the wizarding world, she is obviously experiencing something of a crush on Draco. The girlish conversation about fancying Draco was so perfectly placed among everything else that's going on - it makes you realise that wars and prejudice can't stop these basic teenage emotions :)

Wow...the scene in the potions classroom was perfect. I felt so uncomfortable for Draco when he was trying to be quiet and keep out of the way while others were determined to attack him. It creates this brilliant conflict in the reader because on the one hand you feel bad that he's trying to change and people are treating him so badly, but on the other hand, he wasn't really very nice to these people. Yes, their ideas about his involvement during the war might be uninformed somewhat, but he still was on the wrong side and even before the war, he was the worst kind of school bully, who used to pick on people just because he could and used his influence and power to hurt others. I both feel sorry for Draco and feel like he deserves to have his life to be made difficult. I think it was pretty naÔve of him to think this sort of thing wouldn't happen when he came back to Hogwarts though.

I love that Luna stepped in to defend him, it was such a perfect Luna move. I think Luna sees a lot more than people ever gave her credit for. She is incredibly perceptive and sees that Draco maybe isn't the black and white character the others have palmed him off as.

The writing was brilliant as usual, I didn't spot any mistakes. I've really enjoyed what I've read so far and I'll be back to review the next chapter soon :)

Author's Response: Hi, there!

I agree that McGonagall was very harsh on Draco, but she has her reasons and they aren't just about the things that he did or didn't do during the war. I actually imagine that Harry did tell her, Kingsley and the other surviving members of the Order about the fact that Draco lied to Bellatrix and Narcissa lied to Voldemort. Otherwise, the entire Malfoy family almost certainly would have wound up in Azkaban. I think her opposition to Draco has more to do with the surviving students at Hogwarts. Many of them lost friends and family members to the war and the majority probably know at least one person who died. Having Draco -- an admitted Death Eater, even if his family did switch sides at the end -- back inside the castle would have been very difficult for a lot of the other students, as we see later in the chapter. More than anything, McGonagall is trying to protect the very fragile recovery that's starting to take root at Hogwarts. And given her deeply-engrained sense of right and wrong, I'm sure she also believes that Draco is a coward for participating in atrocities just to save his own life.

I'm glad you like Astoria. At times, I'm worried that she sounds too mature in this story. So I did try to make her act a bit more like a typical teenage girl in this chapter.

The scene in Slughorn's classroom was my favorite part of this chapter. Luna is a character that I always find myself wishing I could work into my stories more often. She's fun to write but terrifying at the same time because getting her words to sound right is so tricky. Luna is like modern art or being in love: you can't explain what it means to "sound like Luna", you just know it when you read it.

As far as whether Draco "deserves" what almost happened to him, I'm honestly not even sure myself. No matter how much he changed because of the war, the reality is that for the vast majority of seven years at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy was not a good person. Even after the war, he's still prejudiced and more than a little arrogant. But he's also learned that his prejudices aren't worth killing or being killed over.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this chapter. It's definitely one of my favorites in the story so far. Thanks for another awesome review!

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Review #19, by LilyEPotter 

9th April 2013:
Again, another great chapter. It can be downright difficult to get others to notice that you've changed, especially if they don't actually see the change happening in front of them.

Author's Response: Hello, again!

I think it's fair to say that nobody was in a big hurry to see any positive change in Draco Malfoy at this point. The wounds from the war were still too fresh and painful. But he is changing.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #20, by Arithmancy_Wiz 

24th March 2013:
Good for McGonagall! I probably should be feeling bad for Draco, as it's clear from the opening that he's struggling, but I can't help it. I'm totally with her on this one. If I was in her position, I'd have objected to his returning too. Draco made his choices -- granted, they were made under duress, but regret doesn't absolve you of all consequences.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. In all honest though, I thought McGonagall's reluctance to have Draco back and the restrictions she put on him were incredible believable. I have trouble with "8th-year" stories sometimes because they gloss over this issue. I thought you handled the set-up really well here.

I loved your use of Slughorn in this chapter. He's the perfect "escort" for Draco. He's too... what's the word? Cowardly? Oblivious? Whatever it is, it keeps him from making any real comments or judgments about Draco and his past. And it introduces just the smallest amount of humor. Slughorn really is one of those characters who doesn't seem to learn and grow. He lives through a war and I still imagine he's most interested in any damage befalling those ingredients that were "quite difficult to obtain."

Oh, Luna. She really is one of my favorite characters. You did a wonderful job capturing her character here. She's got enough confidence in herself now to step up and intervene in an argument but seems to hold no bitterness for what she's been put through. When Draco asked himself why she came to his defense, it really says so much about him as a person. He really, at least at this point in his life, doesn't understand the idea of doing something simply because it's the right thing to do and not because a person is obligated to do it or hopes to gain anything from it

I do have one question though about Draco. What's his motivation for returning to Hogwarts? I know in the last chapter he tells Zabini he's thinking about going back, but he never really says why. It's clear that being back is hard for him, and added to that the indignity of being shuffled around and kept separate from the other students. But he doesn't seem to question his decision to return, which makes me think it's something more important than a few NEWTs. Is he doing it to make his parents happy? To right some sort of wrong? To punish himself? He hasn't expressed any specific career interests (unless I'm forgetting something) that require him finishing school, so I'm wondering what's pulling him back...

Another great chapter. I'm sorry it took me so long to stop by again. I don't know what happened to the last four weeks of my life. Can't wait to read how the next encounter with Astoria goes.

Author's Response: Hello, again!

So I truly, **truly** loathe stories that over-simplify the aftermath of the Second Wizarding War. So many people were hurt or killed, so much was destroyed and the psychological impacts on the survivors must have been horrendous. So to imagine that Draco Malfoy of all people would be welcomed back to Hogwarts with open arms just seems ridiculous to me. I don't think anyone on the "good" side of the war except for possibly Harry really understands much about what Draco and Narcissa went through. So, no, McGonagall isn't one bit happy to see him and she lets him know about it.

Slughorn, to me, is so glad-handed that he's not even willing to be judgmental toward an outcast like Draco. And he has a lifetime of experience when it comes to pretending to enjoy other people's company and making polite conversation. Plus, being Draco's former Head of House, he seemed like the obvious choice to play chaperone. That said, he doesn't do a very good job of it, does he?

I love writing Luna, but at the same time it terrifies me. She's like love and modern art: you can't define what makes Luna sound like Luna, but you know it when you read it. So I'm very, very pleased that you thought she sounded right. I don't think bitterness is an emotion that has any meaning to her, because she lives in the present. At least that's how I always interpret her.

Draco's motivation for returning to Hogwarts is so that he can prepare to sit a few N.E.W.T.s. He believes that finishing his education will help to show people that he's serious about putting the war behind him and not letting the rest of his life be defined by his family's former allegiance to the Dark Lord. When Astoria's father ordered her away from him in Diagon Alley, it made an impression. He doesn't want to be viewed as this horrible person for the rest of his life, but he also isn't quite sure how to go about "fixing it". So finishing his education seemed like a good albeit small first step, I think. He does not, at this point, have any specific career interest other than helping to manage his family's fortune.

Please don't apologize. We're all busy and I'm tickled pink that you enjoy this enough to want to keep reading! Thanks for the awesome review!

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Review #21, by patronus_charm 

24th February 2013:
Congratulations! You get my 300th review :D

I see thereís no change in how the Malfoys get what they want! Itís nice to see that Draco is going back to Hogwarts, as I didnít think he would have been brave enough to return, but itís nice to see that everyone can surprise you! I liked the idea of wizarding charities though! It looks as if heís suffering from PTSD, no wonder given the horrors that he had to go through in the war.

Ah McGonagallís so scary when you donít see her from Harryís perspective. I would be quaking in my boots if I was him. The reaction is what I expected though; as though the governors may be easily swayed I didnít think someone like her would be! It sounds even worse than when Iím forced to go to school, at least I can talk to my friends, and itís more than Draco can do, if he has any friends there that is.

Iím really loving Astoria sheís just so sweet, that you canít help but not love her! The way she was so nice to her house elf, then her talking to Isadore! I do agree with Isadore though, her and Draco would make a cute couple.

I liked the idea of Draco having to take muggle studies! I wonder whether that will change his views on muggles at all?

Aw Luna my heart goes out to you! Sheís so adorable and lovely, and of course it would be her who forgot about the old prejudice, and just help those who need it. I really loved that scene with her and Draco, and it was nice to think he gave her food. It almost made me ship Luna/Draco!

I thought it was another excellent chapter, and I have to say I love your style itís so easy to follow, and reads really well! Iíll be coming back for chapter 4!

-Kiana :D

Author's Response: Hi, there!

I think the Malfoys have a pretty simple formula, and they're not the type to fix something that isn't broken. So, yes, Draco does more or less buy his way back into school. And he is suffering badly from PTSD or whatever the magical equivalent might be.

McGonagall doesn't make any bones about her feelings, does she? She gives the first of many cold doses of reality that Draco will experience in this story.

Astoria is, at her core, just a very good, very caring and loving person. But you'll find that she has a few rough edges before this story is all said and done.

The line about Muggle Studies was sort of a throw-away, but I thought it was amusing. One more way to ratchet up the torment Draco suffers.

I needed Luna for two reasons in this chapter. First, somebody had to step in and keep the two Gryffindor boys from cursing Draco. I thought about Hermione, but I'm not quite ready to have her let bygones be bygones just yet. Second, she sort of puts a human face on the misgivings that Draco and his mother had about their family's role in the war.

I'm really glad that the story is easy for you to follow. A lot of credit definitely should go to my beta reader, as well.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #22, by Remus 

23rd January 2013:
Review #2.

I just could not help but feel afraid for Draco when Minerva greeted him. Sorta scared for him, you know. Specially after reliving the war from his point of view it sort of changes things up a bit. The poor guy, though, can't catch a break! First those that were his friends call him a coward and a muggle-lover. And those that fought against Voldemort call him Death Eater. He's hated and not trusted by absolutely no one except for his parents.

McGonagall's words...those were hard to read. You've managed to make me feel really bad for Draco. However, you definitely managed to capture a woman who is beyond angry about the whole situation. It makes me wonder, however, if she's taking all of her anger and resentment on the one person that wishes to change his ways and prove himself and others that he's not the same he was the year before. She didn't stop or hesitate with her words. The restrictions she placed on him were a bit strange coming from a kind but strict woman but very realistic considering the circumstances.

drone on about the filthy muggles and their rubbish made him itch.---Ah, there's the Draco we all know and love. However, it makes sense that McGonagall decided that he's to not take DADA classes. In a way, perhaps McGonagall was protecting Draco. I mean...all those spells that 'accidentally' might have found their way to him.

Ah, the bully becomes bullied. Part of me really wants to say again 'Poor Draco!' but he sort of deserves it!

Luna to the rescue! Wow...of all the characters I was not expecting her! She would be in her 7th year or re-taking her 6th year? I know Hermione went back to her 7th so I guess the answer is 6th...Also what about Draco? Is he starting his 7th year again? Finishing it? I mean...he's coming in for the second term. How would that work?

The whole conversation with Luna was great! Once again you managed to capture her essence that not many people understand. She seems to be the only one who is willing to give him a chance.

"This school has seen enough fighting, don't you think?"--That right there was so...Luna

I wonder if this little Hogsmeade visit might cause him trouble with McGonagall. He would still be out of the school but he'll be socializing with one of the students. I guess I should continue with chapter 4 and find out!



Author's Response: Hello, again!

Draco is caught in a very bad spot. He's trusted by neither side. Minerva definitely hasn't forgotten about the fact that Draco helped the Death Eaters infiltrate the castle on the night that Dumbledore died. I doubt that the fact that it all happened more or less according to Dumbledore's own design means that much to her. She is definitely focusing a lot of her wrath on him, because Voldemort, Bellatrix and Snape are no longer around to be on the receiving end. Fair? No. Understandable? Probably. And the restrictions she places on him, at least to me seem pretty reasonable. She's trying to protect the other students who were traumatized by the war from him, both physically (disarming him) and emotionally (isolating him).

No, the Draco you know and love (or not) is far from gone. Toned down, perhaps. Humbled. But never completely gone. That just wouldn't be realistic.

Luna and Ginny are in their "proper" seventh year in this story, while Hermione is taking the seventh year that she had to forgo in order to help Harry hunt horcruxes. Draco is in the same situation as Hermione, except that he skipped the first half of the year and now he's just trying to learn enough to earn a few N.E.W.T.s. In my mind, the first year after the war probably saw some students drift into Hogwarts a bit late as victims were released from St. Mungo's and recovered from their injuries or families that had gone into hiding or fled the country made their way back.

Luna is one of those characters who's incredible hard to write. I don't know if there is an exact definition of what it means to sound like Luna. You just know it when you read it.

The Hogsmeade visit is definitely going to cause some trouble, but it might not be the kind you're thinking of.

You spoil me, you know that? Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #23, by heather 

21st January 2013:
I think you've added some interesting layers to Draco here. He's making Good changes for the right reasons, but its not easy for him. Makes the story feel more relatable.

Author's Response: I'm glad that the story felt realistic and relatable to you. I've tried really hard to keep it that way.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #24, by Roots in Water 

21st January 2013:
It's Roots in Water here with your review!

Oooh- another brilliant chapter! I really loved the interactions in this chapter, especially since you managed to cover such a wide variety of reactions to Draco's presence, all of which made perfect sense.

The conversation between Minerva McGonagall and Draco was very well done. Minerva portrayed the outrage and indignation that she has every right to feel and yet she didn't go overboard in her words. She was to the point and she didn't mince words. Her line "Thatís far enough, Mr. Malfoy" sounded exactly like her.

The restrictions placed on Draco seem perfectly fair. After all, it would be very unrealistic if Draco was allowed back into Hogwarts without any change in the attitude towards him. He had, after all, played a role (small as it was) in the group that had tormented the students and teachers of that school for over a year.

I think that one of my favourite parts of this chapter was the interaction between him and Luna. Her choice to defend him, as well as her reasoning for doing so, was so her (I know- I'm doing an excellent job of explaining myself). Only Luna would think that she owes someone for throwing their food at her. Furthermore, her remark about the school having seen enough fighting was very insightful and, (you guessed it), her. It's true, in a way, that one of the best ways to move on after such a great tragedy is to forgive people for the actions that they have already been held accountable for, so that society doesn't tear itself apart again...

As well, the revelation about what Narcissa did with her elf was perfectly in character with what we know about her character. She wasn't openly rebelling but she was changing what little she could to reveal her displeasure with the situation and change it for the better. It's very interesting to see the different layers one can add to a character without changing them from the character we know from the books.

I liked Astoria's role in this chapter. I've never before thought of their relationship as having problems from the parental side, as they are both of pureblood status, so the added dimension with Astoria's father shall make this story even more interesting.

I wonder how the students' (and citizens') reactions will affect their Hogsmeade "date", since it certainly had a negative effect on his Potions class and Draco tried to avoid attracting attention. Ah well- that's something I'll have to see in action in an upcoming chapter. :)

I do have one question, though: why are the students attending Hogwarts if it's still under repair? Wouldn't that be a little dangerous (even if it can be held up by magic) and drafty? And (scratch that, two questions) how does Draco starting in the middle of the year (since he's starting after the Holiday break, if I'm understanding things correctly) affect his schooling, since he would have missed out on half of the year. Did I just misunderstand something? Is everyone starting after the Holiday break?

All in all, I think that this was a very well done chapter, and it didn't seem "slow" at all! Everything was very interesting and I look forward to reading more of this story! Thanks for re-requesting! :)

Author's Response: Hi, there! Long time, no see.

I just didn't see any possible way that Draco was going to be welcomed back with open arms, or even simple indifference. For the majority of the war, he found on the other side. People aren't going to forget that, and forgiveness would be a long, gradual process of rebuilding trust. From McGonagall's point of view, Draco has simply done what his family always does: use their gold to buy his way back into school. So she's understandably furious. Even more important to her, she doesn't want Draco's presence to disrupt the fragile healing process of the students and even the teachers. So in my mind, her terms are directly related to that. She won't take any chance of Draco harming any of her students physically (disarming him) or emotionally (isolating him).

Ah, Luna! If there's one big regret I have from CoB, it's that I couldn't work her into the story more often. I appreciate exactly what you're saying. There's a quality to her that's nearly impossible to define. You just know it when you see it. So I'm really glad that you saw it.

The little bit about Narcissa trying to keep Luna from starving made me happy. I really came to like her character while writing Marked.

The first part of their Hogsmeade "date" is now posted, and it's probably not what you're expecting. Then again, what is with these two? Astoria's father will definitely keep things interesting. He's not likely to change his opinion of Draco quickly.

In my mind, Hogwarts is *mostly* repaired at this point. There are certain parts of it that are still a work in progress, and the completion of repairs was likely put off until springtime. As far as Draco starting in the middle of the year, I imagine that things were probably rather... fluid for the first year after the war. A lot of families might not have returned from wherever they went into hiding right away. Some students might have still be hospitalized or too traumatized to start back right away. Some parents might have taken a "wait and see" approach. Somehow I doubt that Draco was the only student who returned mid-year. And he's really only trying to get to the point where he can sit a few N.E.W.T.s. Presumably he could have done that without returning at all, but he'll benefit from the instruction.

Whew. I'm glad this one didn't seem pokey. It took forever to write and I was really worried about it. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #25, by Gabriella Hunter 

21st January 2013:

Hey, its Gabbie here with your requested review and because I'd favorited this, I can read it whenever I like. :3
Oh, how I love this. I think what you've done here is given a very realistic way of having Draco being back at Hogwarts. I'd always sort of hated the stories that make it seem like he could have walked back in without any trouble or, in your Draco's case, past trauma. McGonagall's words with him, while harsh, were enough to have me understanding where she was coming from. The sight of him after seeing students and staff dying had to have been too much and I loved all the detail you put into it, with the Governers deciding hsi fate. Draco probably didn't appreciate other people telling him what he could or couldn't do with his life, he'd had enough of that hadn't he? His reaction was as outraged and disbelieving as I would have thought. There was still that bit of haughtiness about him as well, which was strange to see after that episode he had before he even made it to the gates. Also something I like! He's not completely ignoring his own pain at what he saw at Hogwarts and I'm so glad that you put that in. From the nightmare in the previous chapter, it makes perfect sense.
What I also really liked was the rules that the teachers gave Draco. He won't be treated like an ordinary student and I know that getting shoved into that Muggle studies clas is going to be torture. But at the same time, perhaps he'll learn a thing or two and I sort of winced for him with that Potions class. The animosity was tense, though I'm glad that Draco kept his cool through most of it and didn't resort to using his fists.
A little surprise came in the form of Luna Lovegood! I'm a huge fan of her so seeing her written so well just made my day and the fact that she stood up for Draco, despite his confusion, was really touching. It came as a later surprise I think that his mother had risked her own life to make sure that she ws fed. It showed just how human she was and I'm glad that you put that in there, as Narcissa was the kinder of the two Black sisters. :)
And that ending! Ah, what are you up to now? From that little bit with Astoria, she's not going to give up on talking to Draco just yet. I wonder what she's up to? As a last thing, I liked that you pointed out the children suffering from their parents' mistakes. While their parents are in Azkaban, how are their children supposed to act in a world that's against them? Brilliant! :D
So, I'll be back with another review when you have another update! Thanks for the read!
Much love,

Author's Response: Hi, there! I am determined to make it through a good chunk of these unanswered reviews today, but they're so lovely to see! Especially the long, detailed, thoughtful ones. ;)

It didn't seem even remotely possible to me that Draco would be welcomed back with open arms or even simple indifference. For nearly the entire war, he fought on the other side. People don't forget a thing like that and forgiving is a long, gradual process if it ever happens. McGonagall is very harsh with him, mostly because she wants to make it absolutely clear that she's unwilling to allow his presence to disrupt the fragile recovery that's underway at Hogwarts. The building might have been mostly repaired, but the students and teachers are still struggling with a huge amount of grief and trauma. In my mind, she hasn't written him off entirely because she isn't that type of person, but she's a long, long way from forgiving him for the things he did during the war.

The rules seemed like total common sense to me. The number one priority would have been eliminating Draco's ability to harm the other students, either physically (disarming him) or emotionally (isolating him). Given that the Governors had been persuaded -- barely -- to allow Draco to return, I imagine that McGonagall realized she wasn't going to win that argument and instead she negotiated the most onerous terms possible. Muggle Studies was almost an easy one, because she knew he'd hate it and yet who would benefit more from exposure to muggle culture than a "reformed" Death Eater?

I adore Luna. One of my biggest single regrets about the way Conspiracy of Blood turned out is that I wasn't able to create more opportunities for her to shine. At the same time, I suppose you can't overdo it with her, or she starts to sound kind of cliched. In this case, I thought she was the perfect voice to help pull Draco back from the precipice of despair with a well-timed injection of her *unique* interpretation of things. And the bit about Narcissa making sure she was fed just felt like something I wanted to do. I really started to like Narcissa by the end of the books.

Astoria and Draco have *a* moment in the next chapter, although it might not be *the* moment you're expecting. ;)

Thank you for the wonderful, supportive review! I really appreciate all your insights and reactions.

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