Reading Reviews for Detox, Chapter 5: Confessions
22 Reviews Found

Review #1, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap 

21st March 2015:
Subconsciously, she needs to fix you. Just trust me, alright?

And subconsciously, Astoria needs to fix him. It really is a girl thing because for some reason it is in our DNA and we are convinced that we can change and fix men. In reality we cannot (even though we still try to believe it). They can only change if they want to change. You can tell thatís how she feels when you read their conversations, the back and forth, the sort of mothering she does and scolding. But then she perks up when he apologizes as if maybe just maybe he isnít entirely all that bad and he knows heís wrong and itíll be okay because sheís there.

No. My aunt gave me a book to read and told me that if I splinched myself it was my own fault for not trying hard enough.

Sounds like Bellatrix. Thatís actually really funny.

I came here to think about leaving. The war, Britain, my family... I was thinking of leaving it all behind. I couldnít stand it any longer. Every day, I woke up wondering whether it would finally happen.

I believe this immensely. For one, his father pretended he was under the Crucio spell during the first war. Iím sure he thought about leaving and fleeing once Voldemort fell, which is why he lied. Then the second war they jetted off in the end. So, Draco wanting to leave and thinking about it sounds perfectly reasonable. Of course he wouldnít have left. Too much shame. He would have been called a coward or followed and killed. Probably by Bellatrix. Most likely by Bellatrix.

A Malfoy doesnít run from danger.

HA! And again, yet he lied about following Voldemort the first time around. Hello, thatís running from danger.

Thatís running-- from Azkaban.

The conversation between Draco and Astoria proved interesting. You can really see heís starting to change, slowly of course, by opening up to her. Heís worried about what she might think but a part of him needs to talk to someone and relive these moments in order to find clarity. Another part needs her to know what happened because if she were to be afraid or reject him it would have to happen now. Later on would crush him. They need to build an understanding, a foundation at the beginning.

McGonagall was magnificently written in this chapter. I have to say I disliked her in the beginning of the story because she was so harsh. I understand why. We spoke about this but still. So seeing her accept Astoria and Hermioneís stories and to acknowledge that maybe Draco has changed or can change and he needs to be given a chance that says something about her character. Sheís hard but sheís not unrealistic.

Woo-hoo! How exciting. I got to read two chapters today. One before work and one right after work. Hopefully it wonít be long before I read the next. Excellent work my friend!

Author's Response: Hi, Deeds!

If I live to be Dumbledore's age, I might have a chance of understanding this *thing* that girls have with "bad boys" and trying to fix them. And you're right, there's no such thing as fixing another person unless they're determined to fix themselves. Fortunately for Astoria, that's the decision that Draco has made. And he will definitely need her help.

I have a fair bit of fun at Bella's expense in this story. Since she's dead, it's a low-risk endeavor.

I'm sure he spent a lot of time thinking about leaving. But he wouldn't have done that to Narcissa and Narcissa wouldn't have left Lucius. It's all a big mess. I agree that Bellatrix would have been sent to hunt him down. Actually, I'm sure she would have volunteered.

Lucius is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" kind of people.

I'm glad you got the point of Draco and Astoria's first "big" conversation. She needs to understand him so she knows what she's getting herself into. He needs someone that he can talk to. All in all, it worked out alright.

Whew! I always worry when I write McGonagall. It's tough to get her right.

You're doing awesome! Thanks so much!

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Review #2, by mymischiefmanaged 

5th January 2015:
Hi Dan, back again :)

I really loved this chapter. I think it might have been my favourite so far. Although there's not a lot of action, you've given some really fascinating character development and a wonderful (and horrifying) insight into Draco's life.

I enjoyed the opening. Draco's thanking Astoria is sweet and shows that he's already started to change from the person he used to be. And the fact that Astoria doesn't expect it shows that this development has happened to some extent during the short time they've known each other. I read this as evidence of the fact that he's not had many other people show him genuine care. The fact that Astoria wants to help him and genuinely cares about him has made a big impact, even if his feelings towards her aren't romantic yet. It's a lovely bit of dialogue between the two.

And then the comment about Bellatrix is horrible but I'm so glad you included it. The idea of her behaving so atrociously about something as minor as an apparition license reflects her insanity and also says something about the pointlessness of the whole war. So much of it was just about individuals with power complexes, not about any kind of ideology. It was a good thing to include, and I especially liked Astoria's response to it. It's just the right balance of recognising the severity of the situation and remaining lighthearted.

The whole tearoom conversation is, I think, a bit of a turning point for Draco and Astoria. He's really opening up to her without her needing to put pressure on him to do so, which shows the respect he holds for her. It seems like that conversation was necessary for both of them, for different reasons. Draco obviously needed to find somebody to talk to about this stuff. He's traumatised but has nobody to turn to because of the way his name is viewed by the rest of society. It's good that Astoria's there to listen. And then Astoria is trying to make sense of her feelings towards Draco, and I think needed to see that side of him to make their relationship more honest. She's able to care for all of him, even the bits he's not proud of. This was a really mature, emotionally driven discussion, and you've written it brilliantly.

Finally, I adored McGonagall in this chapter. You've shown the side of her that makes her a fantastic teacher. She's willing to listen and reevaluate her choices based on other people's opinions. I think the McGonagall we've seen before in this novel wouldn't have wanted to offer Draco even this small acknowledgement (of recognising that he may not be terrible), and it's lovely that she lets a teenager's comments affect her. I love McGonagall in JK's books and you've done a really great job keeping her in character.

Brilliant chapter! I'm constantly in awe of your writing.

Emma x

Author's Response: Hi, Emma!

This was one of my favorite chapters to write. There was something immensely satisfying about having the cocky, arrogant Draco Malfoy let his walls down for someone.

I think you hit on a key point about Draco's gratitude and Astoria's reaction. Aside from his mother, I don't think Draco has felt that very many people genuinely care for him. It's not that I don't think Lucius cares, but Lucius is all about appearances and propriety and I'm not sure whether Draco would have been able to separate any genuine concern from Lucius's ever-present need to maintain the Malfoy Facade.

An awful lot of the horrible things Draco experienced during the war come back to Auntie Bella. Even though she's dead, her name pops up quite frequently in this story. Draco was supposed to respect her and follow her lead. She was family to him, as well as being his superior in Voldemort's hierarchy. In spite of that, I'm fairly sure he hated her. She's a very touchy subject for him, one that will haunt him from time to time in this story.

The conversation over tea is a big turning point for the two of them. Astoria has been trying to put a puzzle together in her mind, to reconcile her perception of Draco with the horrible things that he took part in during the war. Quite a few pieces fell into place for her during this conversation. It's still a work in progress, but she does learn that she wants to continue learning more about him.

McGonagall was a character that I tried to balance out over the course of the story. Early on, she's very hostile toward Draco. Here, she's become more agnostic. You'll see her point of view continue to evolve later in the story. First and foremost, she's an educator. So I think she realizes that young people change over time and if Draco is willing to work hard and prove himself, she's willing to give him a chance.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this. Thanks for the swap!

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Review #3, by Roisin 

28th July 2014:
Your characterization of Draco is really so rich. He exists in such a complicated moral and emotional space. The story about the house being burned down in Hogsmeade--the way he felt about it, feels about it, talks about it, is so different from how I would imagine most people would. But exactly on point for someone who did the things he's done--both good and bad. You've created a tricky character, and found a unique slice of humanity, and examined it in a really compelling way.

I also really like your interpretation of the Slytherin. I think it's too easily reduced. Astoria is, in every way, a 'nice girl.' Which isn't to say she is a stranger to manipulation--but not in a malicious way. Throughout, you show how these characters maneuver in their interactions with others. They measure their words, gauge people's reactions, and so on. It's really masterfully done.

Also, for whatever reason "the shadows cast by Hogwarts castle were starting to stretch long over the Scottish countryside" really stood out to me. There's a lot of language throughout I super like, but this was one of many descriptions I really appreciated.

Author's Response: A tricky character? I definitely take that as a compliment. I wanted to add as much depth and complexity to Draco in this story as I could. He isn't simple or one-dimensional and his story doesn't fit in a neat little box.

Slytherin House also deserved a major re-think, I felt. The way it's presented in most fan fiction is absurd. The traits that Slytherin is known for are not inherently evil, and while Harry and the other Gryffindors might have come away from their encounters with Draco, Crabbe and Goyle with a distinct distaste, I can't imagine the entire house was like that. I wanted Astoria to really show more of the positive aspects of Slytherin while not completely glossing over the negative ones.

I liked that line, myself. Rather proud of it. :)

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #4, by jazzercise 

9th June 2014:
Hi! Wow, ummm I am pretty much in love with this story. I never, and I do mean never, read stories that take place after the war. I also hate stories about Draco in the war, because I love his character so much, but I decided to take a chance on this and I'm so glad I did.

Your portrayal of him, and all characters honestly, is very realistic. I'm also grateful this isn't a Dramione fic too, I'm sorry but I loathe that ship! I'm also very intrigued by your version of Astoria Greengrass; I never thought of her as this sweet, naive young girl who really just wants to believe the best of people, but it really suits her, now that I think of it. She's exactly the kind of person Draco needs in his life.

Okay, I'm going to continue reading your lovely story now!

Author's Response: Hi, there!

Thanks so much for all of the kind words. I tried really, really hard to stick to Draco's characterization from the books throughout this story. I'm sure I strayed here and there, but it's nice to hear that the portrayal worked well for you.

I don't think I could ever write a Dramione story. I have yet to find an underlying rationale for that pairing that doesn't sound absurd to me. As far as Astoria, I think of her as being the sort of person that Draco desperately needed to untangle his head after everything he survived during the war. None of the Slytherin girls in his own year were ever portrayed as the sort of person who could fill that role in his life.

I'm really pleased that you're enjoying it! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #5, by Veritaserum27 

16th May 2014:
Hi Dan,

Review Tag!

Yay! We finally get a first date! Not exactly the way either of them would have planned it, but it was sweet nonetheless. I actually enjoyed this version much better. Because they weren't in Hogsmeade with other students and potential Malfoy-haters around, they had the time and space to be themselves and learn a little about each other.

I think the best part of this chapter is how you managed to sneak in little moments of Astoria and Draco learning how to navigate each other. This seems to be really difficult for most authors. The tendency is to either be blatant about the awkwardness of the first few meetings or to ignore it all together. You've managed to find the balance and it adds a realistic touch to the story. Great job!

Astoria's Slytherin qualities come shining through in this chapter more than they had in any of the previous ones. She is cunning and always aware of how her actions will be perceived by others.

Draco, on the other hand, seems to be acting the opposite of a Slytherin. He bares his soul to Astoria and reveals some of his darkest moments. The retelling of that horrible night even squeezed my heart. And I thought Draco's description of the meaning of his dark mark was exactly the way I always imagined he felt about it. To him, it was a duty he had to perform to keep his family safe.

Hermione's actions didn't surprise me in the least. She is more about being accurate and right in all situations. While she is loyal to Ron, she is not jaded and I think she may be the one person from the other side that sees the complications of the war and how it is not just black and white.

Through the entire chapter, there is this underlying connection between Draco and Astoria. It isn't out in the open, but they both seem to be willing to put themselves in harms way for each other. It is not openly mentioned, but they both act selflessly to protect the other. I love it! This is such a great story and I can't wait to read more!

Thanks so much. I was dying to review this chapter and so excited that no one else had jumped in before me.


Author's Response: Hi, Beth!

Yes, their unconventional first date continues on its unconventional path. I liked the idea of getting them out of the all-wizarding village not only for the reason you pointed out, but also because it allowed Astoria to see a little flexibility in Draco's normally stiff mindset. He isn't above spending a little time among the muggles when it suits him.

I think that learning how to navigate around somebody as emotional and anger-prone as Draco would have been an important task for Astoria. And I think she's up to it. She comes from a background where custom and protocol and knowing how to read the small reactions of very stoic people were very important. For Draco's part, he wants so much to make her comfortable around him. He wants to open up to her, but he doesn't want to frighten her. It's a fine line he feels like he's walking.

No matter what, I didn't want these two dyed-in-the-wool Slytherins to stop being Slytherins. I felt like if I allowed that to happen, I'd lost a very important part of their characters. In this chapter, I didn't think of Draco's soul-baring as being a non-Slytherin trait. He's doing it under very controlled circumstances and he's doing it for a very specific reason. He wants -- needs -- her to understand him. To understand why he did the things that he did during the war. I'm glad you liked his treatise on the real meaning of the Dark Mark. That was an idea that I started to develop when I wrote Marked and then brought it full circle here.

Astoria did understand Hermione better than Draco in the end. Draco has become very trapped in this mindset of anger and retribution and feeling like everyone in the world wants to see him fall (further). After the amount of pain and suffering Hermione witnesses during the war, I doubt that she wanted to see anyone suffer just to settle a score.

Draco and Astoria are both willing to take chances and sacrifice for one another. Draco does it because he wants to be with her, Astoria does it because she wants to know if what she's feeling toward Draco is real. They can be a little selfless at times. Not very Slytherin. ;)

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

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Review #6, by TheHeirOfSlytherin 

11th March 2014:
I'm so glad they managed to salvage their day - date, whatever they want to call it. Even when Draco was telling his story, it felt like a very good thing for him, like it was the start of something. You know? And they even got to laugh at some things, especially the bit about Bellatrix. I found that strangely amusing, too.

Sharing was also good, it felt normal. Finally, Draco can be normal, at least for a little while.

I hope he can go back to school. And that Astoria can change her father's mind. I'm worried about Aurors and, of course, more people in general wanting Draco dead.

I'm glad she listened to his story about the Dark Mark. I was also worried about that. Can't have her running away now.

I'm crossing my fingers that Astoria's reevaluation of Hermione Granger will gear towards something positive. I'm not expecting them to be friends or anything (though the imagined look on Draco's face is quite hilarious), but it might help to make Draco's time at Hogwarts more tolerable, his life too if Hermione can get to Ron.

The conversation with McGonagall was very interesting. Going and telling her the truth is probably the best thing you can do when you're looking to help a man already in trouble.

All I know for certain is that if nobody is willing to give him a chance, he will fail. - This line. This is the line I've been waiting for, now I await the change that might come with it.

I know this is story is more about redemption after war, at least I assume so, but you make it such an exciting and interesting journey even without all the action-type stuff. I love it.

I have to go out and get dinner now, but I'll be back.


P.S. Fair warning, I've moved onto red glimmer sugar (the decorations you put on cakes), so reviews might get a little... jumpier. :P

Author's Response: Hello, again! I am enjoying your thoughts and reactions so much. I don't get nearly as many Slytherin points of view as I do Gryffindor points of view. Sometimes I worry there's a bias there.

This chapter was the first in a series of "big moments" between Draco and Astoria, the one where he's completely honest with her about something bad that he was involved with during the war. It actually helps both of them a great deal. Astoria starts to understand why Draco can be so withdrawn and haunted and Draco starts to open up and trust her. Both of them realize that it feels rather good, I think.

I really enjoyed all the little quips about Bellatrix. She's almost as much fun to make fun of as she is to write.

The story about the Dark Mark is an extension of his thought process all the way back to the period of time I covered in Marked. To Draco, it isn't some badge of honor. It's an indelible symbol of his servitude to Voldemort and the fact that he was meant to die as a punishment for his father's failure in the Department of Mysteries. I thought it was really important that Astoria understood that from an early point in their relationship. It paves the way for so many other things...

... like what she says to McGonagall. After the rough start that Draco has with the Headmistress, I had to find a way to start smoothing the transition toward her not being completely hostile toward him. As much as she might loathe his family and his actions before and during the war, McGonagall is just too fair-minded not to start to have doubts once Astoria AND Hermione come to her pleading Draco's case.

I hope it stays interesting for you. There will be plenty more action, but hopefully also a lot of intrigue that's worthy of a story about two Slytherins. You snakes! Nothing is ever simple with you! :p

Go easy on the decorating sugar and thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #7, by LilyEPotter 

5th February 2014:
It sounds like Draco ended up telling Astoria more than she was expecting and maybe more than he was intending to say.

Professor McGonagall certainly does have a lot to consider from what Astoria did and did not say. Though I'm glad that Astoria didn't get in trouble for circumstances beyond her control.

Author's Response: Draco probably would have liked to say more, but he's worried about telling her too much, too fast. Her approval means a great deal to him.

Astoria's not in trouble... yet.

Thanks for reading and reviewing.

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Review #8, by Pixileanin 

4th February 2014:
"Getting them there in one piece - keeping her safe - was the only thing that mattered."

Seems like this is his battle cry, of sorts.

"It's a girl thing, Draco. Subconsciously, she needs to fix you."

And I bet that Astoria isn't projecting just a little bit here. Actually in this chapter, she's not trying to fix him. She's trying to understand him, which is a big difference.

It's nice that they had a moment to diffuse the tension, and catch their breath after being chased by people who wanted to kill him. That's a big plus. Draco's so single-minded, so serious here. And Astoria gives him a reason to smile.

The thing that works here is that Astoria is so open to believe that Draco is the person she hopes he is, that she'll set aside all prejudices to give him that chance. She's not holding anything against him, yet she demands his honesty because she cares about who he really is. I think that's what Draco needs the most at this moment. He needs someone who is rooting for him. And don't we all want that, to some extent?

Draco's story has given Astoria some very real context about his life among the Death Eaters. I'm sure she'll have a lot to think about, along with the lure of his grey eyes, in the coming days. I was a little surprised at how quickly he was able to open up to her at first, but then it dawned on me that he's probably desperate for someone to be on his side. And he knows he can't have someone on his side completely, if they can't face who he used to be.

Astoria very carefully plans for her meeting with McGonagall, and I'd say she did a fantastic job, especially when faced with all the distractions on her insides, because that can be very difficult to ignore, you know. It was a nice touch to have Astoria reaffirm her opinion of Hermione. After what Draco told her, I imagine she couldn't be too sure, but what Hermione told the Headmistress made an impression on her.

I like how you're setting up Astoria to be Draco's champion in this story. Just because she's young and inexperienced, doesn't mean that she can't enact change. She's probably learned along the way that strong convictions mean something in her world, and she's demonstrating that in a very real way.

I'm sure there are consequences coming, though. Her father is going to get that owl, and I can't imagine that he's going to let that go without comment.

I also think that you portrayed McGonagall very well here. She didn't go all soft just because some young thing came and pled her case, but she didn't throw the rule book at them either. You walked that fine balance between upholding the order of things and the compassion we've seen from her character before. I liked it alot!

Author's Response: Hi, again! Let's do this!

Draco and Astoria both have their own little mottos in this story. Astoria is projecting a bit, although I think that she and Hermione have more similarities than either one would be eager to admit to.

One of the things that will always draw Draco to Astoria -- at least in my world -- is that she can make him smile. No matter how grave the situation, she finds little ways to make him happy. It happened in Diagon Alley and it's happening again in this chapter.

Astoria wants very badly to believe that Draco is good. That's partly because she likes to believe that about people in general, partly because she's crushing on him, partly because she wants to prove her father wrong, partly because she wants a relationship where she just spontaneously falls head-over-heels in love... as the kids say on FB, it's complicated. And you're right, she's mostly just asking that he tell her the truth. Which he does... gradually. For his part, Draco desperately wants someone to confide in, someone who'll understand what he's been through without judging him. That's some pretty powerful common ground.

I really enjoyed writing Astoria's thought process as she prepares to talk to McGonagall. She plans out every detail of the conversation, then Hermione's appearance throws a huge monkey wrench into her plans so she sort of plays it by ear, but in the end she's able to use a lot of the speech she crafted in her head. Life is like that a lot, I think. You plan and prepare, circumstances change, you adapt and move on.

Astoria does become Draco's champion in many ways, which makes it hurt that much more when they have their inevitable setbacks as a couple. It won't be fun...

You'll see the confrontation with her father in the next chapter. You're absolutely right, he will comment extensively.

McGonagall is all about the tough love. And I believe she respects people who are willing to take responsibility for their own actions and stand up for what they believe is right. In this situation, that's Astoria to a T.

I'm really glad you're enjoying this! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #9, by UnluckyStar57 

9th January 2014:
Hello! I haven't reviewed this story since last year! (Hahaha...) Anyways, sorry about the wait. School started back, and you know how that goes...

This story keeps getting better and better! After reading this chapter, I finally realized exactly what I like about the Draco that you've created:

1) He isn't a ladies' man.
2) He isn't Head Boy.
3) His love interest is NOT Hermione Granger.
4) He actually feels remorse for his actions.
5) He is actually held accountable for his actions.

I'm sure that there are other things, but those are the big things that come to mind. Maybe you dislike Dramione as much as I do (or maybe not). I personally think that it's unrealistic and it usually comes across as really smutty. THIS story, though it involves Draco going back to Hogwarts to continue his education, actually has a plot that doesn't involve a shared common room for the Heads and a whole bunch of nasty goings-on.

Okay, that was just my personal rant for the day. Sorry about that! I think that the point I was trying to make is that I can see this story fitting in with canon. It involves a girl, but she's a strong character who has the gumption to rescue her "handsome prince" and also stand up to him when he's out of line. It takes place after the Battle, but the scars that were carved into the buildings (and everyone's hearts and bodies) are not so easily erased. That's what this story is about after all--healing--and so it would make no sense for everything to be "all magically better." So why did I point out the obvious?

...I don't know. Just because I really appreciate it, I guess. Thanks, thanks, thanks again for making this story mean something. :)

Okay, now I'll get on to reviewing the actual chapter.

I think that Draco's revelations sound completely genuine. We really don't see a lot of the Death Eaters' misdeeds in person in the books, so hearing about one from Draco's perspective was very enlightening. It makes sense that he idolized his father--it's a little boy thing, I think--therefore, because he grew up watching his father wear a Dark Mark with pride, he would relate service to Voldemort with pride when he was branded with his own mark. But as time wore on and he kept trying and failing to kill Dumbledore, he would become disillusioned and finally realize that he was only meant to be a sacrifice to Voldemort--and that would've hurt. As you put it so eloquently in the chapter, the mark was "nothing more than an elaborate chain."

(Now I'm going to get to the point.) When he told Astoria about the Ratcliffe incident, I felt that he was genuine in his disgust for Fenrir Greyback and the atrocities that the Death Eaters inflicted upon the family. It was just more proof that his father's allegiance to the Dark Lord was a big mistake, and that's why he ran from it. His departure from the crime scene does not surprise me--perhaps it could be viewed as an act of cowardice (since he didn't try to stop the fire or help the family), but he didn't join in the Death Eaters' "fun." He was different from the other guys, and that's why he can recover from the wounds of the past.

McGonagall might be a tough cookie, but she's fair. You have to give her that. Of course, she's not immune to prejudice--the harsh restrictions that she imposed upon Draco were more than proof of that--but when she is shown both sides of an argument, she will weigh both sides very carefully. Her reaction to Astoria's story shows that she has been presented with concrete evidence of the beginning of Draco's reform, and so her previous judgment of him has altered slightly. I hope that he will continue to improve so that she will change her mind about him!

As always, this was a great chapter! So sorry for the weird, rambling review! :)


Author's Response: Hi, there!

So if you add "Hermione is not wearing leather pants" and "Ron doesn't suddenly go running back to Lavender" then I think we pretty much have the same list of dislikes in post-war fics involving Draco. ;) I probably dislike Dramione at least as much as anyone else.

It's been one of my big objectives from the very beginning of this story -- heck, with all of my stories -- to make sure that it fits within canon. That's just my thing, I guess. I'm really glad that you find the world I've created to be realistic and meaningful. That means a lot, no pun intended. :)

I'm really glad that Draco's confessions seem realistic. One thing I've tried to do with this story and with Marked is fill in those gaps that the books simply couldn't address without each of them being 5,000 pages long. Even that might not be long enough, actually. Draco did so much growing up over the course of the 6th and 7th books, and I think of this story as being sort of a natural extension of the process, combined with a love story. He was different from the other Death Eaters. So was his father, in the final analysis. Draco, I think, was just a far better man than his father when it came right down to it. Lucius never had the courage.

Whew! It was tough to balance McGonagall's reactions to what Astoria had to say. I wanted to keep her skeptical, but also inquisitive. By this point in the story, I imagine that Draco has already lasted longer at Hogwarts than McGonagall ever expected. She has to be wondering why he's willing to suffer all of the conditions she's imposed upon him. "Old Draco" was far too arrogant and impatient to tolerate them. You'll see a bit more of McGonagall before the story's over. I hope you continue to like her.

No worries on the review! I'm known to sprinkle a bit of my own prejudices into my own reviews sometimes. It keeps things interesting.

Thanks so much!

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Review #10, by Rumpelstiltskin 

1st January 2014:
I am here from Review Tag!

Aha! They apparated; that explains everything. In his condition, I'm surprised that someone didn't get splinched, for goodness sake! I suppose that getting splinched would have been better than the alternative, if he had not apparated.

When Draco offers to take the blame for leaving the village and doing magic outside of school in order to save Astoria from getting in trouble, I think that really revealed some of his best qualities in his characterization. I find it extremely endearing that Draco is willing to take the fall for her. Furthermore, when Astoria outright refused to do so, I believe some of her best qualities were revealed as well. She couldn't possibly mar another person's name for her own benefit. It really shows how good-natured she is.

I love Astoria's analysis of Hermione's statement. "It's a girl thing" that was perfect! In a way, it is a subconscious element of being female, to want to change males. It's only because we see the potential in them, and want to push them to do their best, of course ;).

*Cough* Yes, that sounds like Bellatrix.

The first thing that I adored about their interactions in this was the chemistry the two seem to have. The mild teasing and the general way in which they speak to one another really gives leeway for an eventually love interest. I also really loved that Draco opened up to Astoria so much. The story about the Death Eaters burning the house down, leaving the son inside to die, and the continuation about the Ratciffes... it was all very chilling. I think I especially loved how he made it known that the dark mark did not bring him power, but made him a slave, instead.

Astoria is really just a fantastic and kind person. She tuned herself in for breaking the rules, stood up for Draco, and truly believes that he can change. She's right, however, it will be extremely difficult to better himself if everybody stands against him.

Fantastic chapter!


Author's Response: Hello, again!

The fact that Draco was able to get them there in one piece was a testament to the survival skills that he developed during the war. Learning how to run away was, I'm sure, key to staying alive in some situations.

One thing I started to like about them as I wrote this is that they do have a lot of complimentary qualities. Draco is pretty selfless where she's concerned, but she has a good enough head on her shoulders to know when she should accept his offers and when she shouldn't. She also knows Hermione better than Draco does, fortunately for the both of them.

Ah, Bellatrix! She's far and away my favorite lunatic in the HP books, which is pretty high praise with Voldemort running around.

I'm really glad that you're enjoying the story! I hope you have more opportunities to keep going. Thanks for the review!

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Review #11, by MissesWeasley123 

6th October 2013:
*sighs contently*

Though, I do feel very stupid. In the last chapter, I thought as Hogsmeade Village spun away. meant she died. I'm in full ROFL mode right now. I never seize to amaze myself.. One would think I could put two and two together... Anywho, you wrote this chapter wonderfully Dan!

I'd also like to take the moment to say that your Author Responses are awesome. That is all.

Trust Draco to be full of himself and be all, "I could have taken them single-handedly any day." I was clapping my hands and saying, "Sure you could Draco, sure you could."

But my heart expanded magnificently when I read this at the very beginning:

Getting them there in one piece -- keeping her safe -- was the only thing that mattered.

I think the Draco/Astoria section in my heart got like 10x bigger. Just saying.

I really liked how Astoria believed that Hermione wouldn't rat him out. I genuinely smiled at that part because to me it seemed so "Astoria-ish". She really is nice and... can you like introduce me to her? I really wanna be her friend :D

Despite the seriousness of this, I was once more laughing out loud right here:

"No. My aunt gave me a book to read and told me that if I splinched myself it was my own fault for not trying hard enough. Then we flooed to the Ministry and she put her wand to Mr. Twycross's head and told him that his signature was either going to be on my license or his own death certificate, his choice."

The thing is, though Draco's talking, I could totally imagine Bellatrix saying that! Again what you create with words is absolutely magic. My mind really gets into it.

Honestly, if I could quote this entire chapter into this review, I probably would, but you might not like that...

I really just want to keep on talking about their conversation, but that'll take up all my characters that I have left, so I'll try to say what I can about it without rambling: I loved the new perspective you gave to the whole idea of Draco becoming a Death Eater, without glorifying it, but still making me think that yeah, maybe he didn't have a choice. I've read far too many Dramiones where authors fail to recognize that, but you keep it and justify it. I always felt a bit bad for Draco, but you show it under a totally different light. I'm still pondering over it, it was so effective.

And now, Astoria's talk with McGonagall. For the first time, I thought that McGonagall was being a bit annoying - or maybe that's only because I've warmed up to Astoria. I was really proud of her for sitting through that talk without losing her cool, because I knew I would have. Professor was being very insufferable.

I think Hermione and Astoria could be great friends. WE ALL COULD BE AND IT WOULD BE AWESOME AND WE'D HAVE SLEEPOVERS AND JUST AH.

Well look here, I've just wrote my biggest review ever! Yippee!

All in all, I really needed a smile today. I'm so glad I came back to this chapter because it made me feel a lot better.

I don't have enough words to thank you for this one, and rest assured that I will be back :)

Author's Response: Hi, there!

This was a chapter that's been part of the plan since this story was in the planning stages, so I'm really pleased that you liked it. There was a lot of groundwork that needed to be laid in order to get to this point and I hope that it didn't seem too long in coming.

Draco still feels compelled to put on a show for Astoria, even though he's really banged up by this point. Being Astoria, though, she sees right through it and mostly puts him in his place. I think she finds his bluster endearing, if a bit overdone.

It's a little sad that she does understand Hermione better than he does, although her gender does give her an advantage. Still, he's known her for over six years at this point. He's a bit thick at times.

Ah, dear Bella. She's fun to include in stories even after she's dead. It's easy to laugh at her in retrospect, when you no longer need to be afraid of her.

If you're curious about how Draco became a Death Eater -- at least my version of it -- that story is told in Marked. You get the gist of it here. I don't think Draco actually wanted to be a Death Eater once all of his father's self-important bluster was stripped away and he learned what was really involved. He really didn't have a choice. Voldemort ordered him to kill Dumbledore as a punishment for Lucius's failure to obtain the prophecy. It was a win-win for Voldemort: if Draco died, a lesson was taught. If Draco were to miraculously succeed, Dumbledore was eliminated. I'm certain that Voldemort never expected Draco to survive.

I think McGonagall was fishing for information more than anything. She wasn't sure what to make of a situation where not one but two students were coming to her, confessing to breaking the rule and being adamant that it wasn't Draco's fault. Astoria did handle it well, though, and she even managed to get in a bit of a plug for him.

Wow! This was a really awesome review. Thank you so much for being so detailed and thoughtful. I really appreciate it!

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Review #12, by Sharvi 

11th August 2013:
I knew that Draco had to tell Astoria things from his
past, and the way he did was really natural to me.
Also, the way Astoria stood her ground and defended
Draco added more strength to her character for me.
Though I would love to know what McGonagall was
thinking during the conversation!

Author's Response: If I had to imagine what McGonagall was thinking, it was probably something along the lines of, "Why is everyone suddenly taking Draco Malfoy's side? Have I missed something here? As far as I knew, everyone hated him..."

Astoria is a very strong young woman, but she's also young and more than a little naive. More of that will come out as the story progresses.

I really enjoyed reading your reviews. I feel like you get where I'm coming from with this story, which is about as rewarding as it gets for an author. Thanks!

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Review #13, by Courtney Dark 

5th July 2013:
I loved how this chapter started where the last left off. I was immediately hooked and couldn't take my eyes of the page. As a matter of fact, I was so deeply 'involved' in this chapter that I didn't hear my friend ringing the doorbell - she was standing out in the cold for ten minutes before coming in through the backdoor with quite a disgruntled expression on her face.

Anyway, this chapter was full of so much yumminess! I loved all of the emotions that we got see Draco express and I think the way he told Astoria about the war was just perfect. I also liked the fact that we got see a little bit of Astoria's slightly cheeky sense of humour shining through.

I think my favourite part of Draco's story was definitely when he was telling Astoria about how he used to come into the cafe and think about running away. It really reminded me of the end of the Half-Blood Prince when Draco lowered his wand before Dumbledore's death, and I found it really nice (that was a terrible choice of word, but I seem to have very limited vocabulary at the moment) to see such depth in Draco that we've never really seen before.

I also found Lucius Malfoy's idea of: 'A Malfoy doesnít run from danger' quite ironic, seeing as the Malfoy's are actually portrayed as reasonably cowardly in the books, especially Lucius.

Loved the line:ďI wish I could, but Iím afraid the artist has gone out of business. Could you bring us some scones and biscuits? Something with chocolate, perhaps?Ē It added a touch of humour to a chapter that is really quite dark and intense.

Astoria's conversation with McGonagall was also very well written - from what I have seen so far, you honestly have McGonagall's characterization down to the T (Is that actually saying? I'm not sure...) and Astoria's definitely showed her selflessness by going to her straight away, and not worrying too much whether she'd get herself into trouble.

Wow, I'm just realizing now how rambling and waffling this review is - sorry about that! But anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter!


Author's Response: Yay, look at me! Finally responding to all of these lovely reviews. Seeing them disappear from my Unanswered Reviews page is such sweet sadness.

Ha! I feel bad for your friend, but absolutely giddy that you found the chapter that engrossing. Please offer her my apologies and maybe some hot chocolate or something.

I knew from the beginning that Draco needed a chapter where he could just open the floodgates and share some of the pain and guilt that he feels with Astoria. I honestly wasn't planning on it taking quite this long to get to it, but now that I'm here I actually like the way that the pacing worked out. Based on the flashes of Draco we get to see in HBP and DH, I always felt like there was more to the character than the shallow, mean-spirited bully who mostly served as a punching bag in the first 5 books. It was fun to explore that.

Astoria has become such a neat character in my head. She starts off as such a sweet, innocent girl. As Draco is forced to grow up and deal with his demons, she sort of gets pulled along for the ride. And she has a feisty streak, as well.

I'm so incredibly pleased that you liked McGonagall. She's scary-difficult to write.

Don't worry about rambling or waffling. I really love hearing all of your reactions and thoughts. It gives me a good idea of which things connected well.

Thanks for another awesome review!

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Review #14, by Flavia 

24th April 2013:
Ok, I've been meaning to write this for a couple of days and I am FINALLY getting around to it!

I liked the way this chapter started, kicking right off where the last chapter left. The feel was the same as well, which I was really impressed by, sometimes you see this fantastic cliffhanger and then in the next chapter it doesn't seem to match but this flowed beautifully. I love how long it took Draco to get up, it fits in with what I was saying last time about the reality of the situations. He's been attacked and then apparated with another person some distance; of course he's going to be having difficulties.

Draco's thought process towards Astoria in this chapter showed a lot about his feelings towards her and the effect she is already having on his character. The fact that he is worried about her when he's the one who can't even stand up properly shows real affection and even the beginnings of love.

The fact that he trusted her enough to share the things that he did in the cafť continues this theme and I almost got the feeling that he was just as surprised as anyone else that he was being so open with Astoria.

The comment about the dark mark being a bad tattoo made me giggle :)

I thought you did a great job of showing a range of moments between Draco and Astoria in the chapter too, from the arguing and banter at the beginning, to the trusting and in-depth conversation right through to the beautiful tender moment behind Honeyduke's. I thought the addition of the little kiss on the cheek was perfect, it was so sweet and innocent and such a contrast to the passionate and evil madness Draco would have experienced during the war.

The conversation between Astoria and McGonagall was perfect. I was glad that Astoria stood up for Draco, although I thought she was incredibly plucky! The way McGonagall threw in that little compliment of Astoria's spell work made me smile - such a McGonagall thing to do!

The writing was perfect again :) I didn't spot any errors. Oh and bonus points for use of the word 'caveats' !!! I am impressed!

A great chapter and I'll try to get the next review written a bit quicker!

Author's Response: Hello, again!

I didn't want there to be any implied passage of time between the end of the last chapter and the start of this one, because that would probably make people angry after last chapter's cliffhanger. Draco is very beat up physically when they arrive, so he wasn't going to be going anywhere in a hurry. But he is very concerned about Astoria, both her physical condition and how she thinks of him. Even when he's in no shape to object, that Malfoy pride is never very far below the surface.

The scene inside the cafe is what I'd been waiting to write ever since I started the story. A very genuine moment when Draco finally lets his guard down and opens up about some of the horrors that he witnessed and participated in during the war. I think it was vital for Astoria to see that. Otherwise, she would never know for sure that her father's opinion of Draco was wrong.

Glad you liked the tattoo comment, by the way. I was proud of that one. ;)

McGonagall is always a teacher first in my mind. And Astoria's comments may have more of an effect on her than we first realize.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this. I think it was my favorite chapter of the story so far, although I always try to do better. ;) Thanks for all of your awesome reviews!

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Review #15, by Dark Whisper 

19th April 2013:
Confessions... hmm. Well I'm glad that he is truthful with her, which is an important base for any relationship to last. I think you handled the Mark issue quite well. I loved what Draco said about it being an "elaborate chain." So true.

The story of the burning house was really tragic. Very sad, indeed and so senseless. I can see how this would haunt Draco.

It was sweet of her to kiss him on the cheek when they parted. I like her character and how she confessed to McGonnagal. It was very Slytherin of her to use her reputation for the cause.

And of course, I love Hermione in this as well. She's so good, right? I love the 'girl thing' and how she needs to fix him. Lol. I find that quite amusing.

I liked the depth of this chapter and how he is opening up to Astoria. Who doesn't love a man who is willing to open up a bit? It's all good... :)

Dark Whisper

Author's Response: Hello, again.

Draco opens up to her in a way that he's never opened up to anyone about the war. Certainly not his drinking buddies, and probably not even his mother, since I think she implicitly understands most of what he's feeling anyway. That's how I thought of the Dark Mark. It was just a symbol of a person's enslavement to Voldemort.

By the time they part company behind Honeyduke's, Astoria has decided that he's worth pursuing a relationship with. Worth the effort that it's going to take to try to keep him in school and change her father's mind. And she thinks of everything in capitalistic sort of terms. That is the Slytherin in her.

I thought about having Hermione just sort of let the whole thing go, but that didn't feel very much like her. She has this burning sense of right and wrong and a real need to be fair and just. It's the best thing about her.

You are really making my day (week?) with the feedback and kind words. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #16, by Arithmancy_Wiz 

17th April 2013:
Trying desperately to catch up on a little reading and reviewing this week. It's amazing how easy it is to fall behind!

This chapter was definitely the one I'd been waiting for. I'd been all ready to read about them having their first real heart-to-heart in the last chapter, but those pesky Ratcliffe had to go and spoil everything. But before we get to all that...

Yikes! You did a fantastic job of capturing Draco's injuries. Perhaps a little too fantastic. Feeling dizzy and sick is just the worst! But that aside, this opening scene really demonstrated an interesting dynamic between the two. Draco is a man of contradictions. He's so resistant to even the slightest show of help or support, yet he's very introspective and willing to be open with Astoria about how is feeling. It's fun to watch Astoria try to navigate it all and keep up with him.

I think my favorite moment from this opening bit was the line, "It seemed that the Slytherin in her was giving some serious thought to taking him up on his offer." I love that Astoria has at least some measure of self-preservation hidden inside of her. She's going to need it if she tangles herself up with a man like Draco.

I really enjoyed the way you worked Bellatrix into Draco's confession. While it's obvious that he's been scarred by many of his past experiences, he still manages to keep some perspective and humor about certain things. "Then we flooed to the Ministry and she put her wand to Mr. Twycross's head and told him that his signature was either going to be on my license or his own death certificate, his choice." This is a perfect example. Under normal circumstances, death threats against Ministry officials would be a big deal. But in light of all he went through, this has almost become the kind of humorous story he can share at a dinner party.

Draco's answer to why he didn't run away was very revealing. A Malfoy doesn't run from danger. This is, of course, very ironic seeing as the Malfoy men proved rather cowardly in the books. It's really Narcissa who risks danger to save her family. I guess maturity is bringing out more of her traits in him.

I loved the little aside about Wormtail. What a rat-like thing to do -- conjuring up fake money. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if the spell only lasted a few hours and ends up leaving the recipient shortchanged.

The time had come to spend some of that credibility on a worthwhile cause. Astoria really has fallen hard for Draco, hasn't she? There is such an innocence at that age. She may in fact be totally right about him, but her lack of any real doubt isn't something a lot of adults could replicate. Which leads me too McGonagall...

I love how Astoria's response to McGonagall's question is "We had tea, after we fled Hogsmeade. And we talked." Of course! Obviously that would explain everything :P Astoria is definitely very mature for her age and a good and caring person, but next to McGonagall, she looks like the young, naive girl she really is. Though I do like that at the end of the conversation, we're left with a feeling that McGonagall has something to learn from her. I still like the way McGonagall is keeping Draco on a short leash. She knows what kind of person he use to be and she has a responsibility to keep her other students safe. But I also like that Astoria is right when she says people can't change if they aren't given a chance.

Oh, and good for Hermione too! No matter how much she dislikes Draco, I like that her anger with him doesn't erase her sense of right and wrong, or her desire to make sure that all parties are given fair treatment.

I spotted one typo. Hardly worth mentioning, I know, but...

-- She punched him on the arm, trying to look serious as she dabbed her her eyes with the sleeve of her robes. (repeated "her")

Also, there is one line in the opening scene where you seem to slip into Astoria's POV while the rest is in Draco's POV:

-- As much as she tried to stay cross, Astoria found it infectious.

Last, if you're interested in opinions on the issue, I like the idea of grouping action and dialogue in sections like this: Astoria arched her eyebrow at his revelation. "Did you actually take the test?" I feel like I might have read somewhere you were trying differing formats (or maybe I'm just making that up out of thin air), and I feel like you grouped things this way in CoB. I used to do it the way you're doing it in this story -- using separate lines -- but a reviewer suggested I switch. Looking back at it, I find grouping it is less disrupptive to the flow and has the added benefit of acting like a dialogue tag, identifying the speaker without using a version of said. Anyway, just throwing that out there for whatever it's worth.

Author's Response: Your reviews are never easy to respond to. So much good feedback! I really have to wait until I have time to sit down and think and respond intelligently.

I'm really glad you enjoyed this one. I had been waiting for a way to get the two of them off by themselves that didn't feel contrived. So I'm pleased that you found it worth the wait.

Draco took some pretty hard knocks in Hogsmeade, so there was no way that he was going to pop right back up and dance a jig. Still, he's too proud to let Astoria be openly sympathetic toward him. But she's clever and intuitive for her age. Pretty soon, she's able to figure out how to deal with him. And she's not so altruistic that she doesn't give at least a bit of thought to what's best for her. I'm glad you picked up on that.

I don't think I could write a story about Draco without involving Bellatrix in some fashion. Until she came along, he didn't really have any idea what Death Eaters were all about. His father is quite genteel, after all. But I think she quickly laid to rest any romanticized notions he might have been harboring about the Dark Lord and his followers. She's cruel, vicious and completely crazy. And the fact that he survived his time with her definitely put a bit of a different spin on things for him.

I'd like to think that Draco became more like his mother and less like his father as he aged. I'm still pretty much in awe of what JKR was able to do with Narcissa's character in her very brief appearances in the books. She went from being a snobby pure blood trophy wife to one of the stronger examples of what it means to be a mother. I still hope that she and Andromeda were able to reconcile at some point. They probably had more in common than they realized.

I'm pretty sure that those notes turned back into napkins at some point, by the way. ;) Hopefully not until after the proprietor counted the till at the end of the day.

Astoria is very smitten with Draco by the end of this chapter. He's so very different from the boys that she's grown up around. He's been through hell and back, and it's given him a quiet sort of strength as well as a profound vulnerability. Based on her limited experience, he probably seems like a beautiful, blond character from a teen romance novel come to life. Don't worry, she'll see some of his flaws before the story is all said and done.

I felt like I was walking a really fine line with McGonagall in this chapter. It's way too early for her to let bygones be bygones, but I also wanted to show that she's still able to consider the possibility that she misjudged him. Especially when two people whose opinions she finds worthwhile -- I won't go so far as to say that she accepts them at face value -- are telling her similar things.

Thanks for spotting those problems. I went in yesterday and patched them up.

Ah, the style of writing dialog. That was a decision I made back when I started writing this story. And to be honest, I wish I'd never made it. It makes writing painful at times, and I know it's given some readers real difficulty when it comes to keeping track of who's saying what. That said, I would really need to go back and rewrite the whole thing if I decide to abandon it. I may make that decision someday, but for now, I just want to finish writing the story. I appreciate the feedback, though.

Thanks for the long, detailed and insightful review! It was really helpful.

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Review #17, by Remus 

1st March 2013:
Told you you'll see me here! :D

Glad to finally know what happened to them after that horrible cliffhanger! Draco here is being very...macho. "I don't need help." Sort of attitude, specially when he stated that he could've taken the other men. It's almost as if, subconsciously speaking, he's trying to impress her. Almost like a peacock strutting his feathers.

"It's a girl thing, Draco. Subconsciously, she needs to fix you." i couldn't help but to laugh at that because it's very true. No matter what we think, say, act...We're out there to save the poor men who look like they "need saving" when in reality is just possibly a lost cause. I wonder if Astoria feels that way about her 'possible' relationship with Draco. That she can change him, save him from himself and his past. We'll see though.

I really wish I could draw because the image I have of Draco and Astoria in the Muggle place is just priceless in my mind. Perhaps also when the muggle woman tells him to get his money back for that 'tat' and then proceeded to say that the guy went out for business. I seriously imagined Voldemort owning a tattoo shop. Thank you for that image.

So just I have things clear in my head...Astoria is in her 6th year? She's 2 years younger than the Trio, 1 year younger than Ginny so I'm trying to figure out what year she's in, specially when she got in trouble for doing magic outside the school.

The whole conversation between Astoria and Draco was both fascinating and haunting. I did you come up with that idea? It sounded horrible just thinking about it. However, it sounds very like a plausible thing in the HP canon...just not something we would see from the books since they're directed towards children. I can seriously see the Death Eaters just enjoying a house burn with people in there. *shudders*

Once again, brilliant chapter. I really do wonder where you're going to take this. Will it end with him proposing? Getting married? Anyway, can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter.

Author's Response: Hi, there! :)

Draco spends a lot of time in this story trying to maintain/save face. Astoria finds it kind of endearing, up to a point. That's the world she comes from, after all. Fortunately, she has no problems with telling him to knock it off when it gets to be too much.

So once again, I find myself spending a lot of time trying to put myself into the female mindset while I'm writing this. For some reason it was a lot less stressful when I was writing Tonks, because she and I are more alike, I think. Astoria is more cultured and far less of a wiseacre. But there are some things I think are fairly universal.

You're not the only one who pines over non-existent artistic talent. I really wish I could sketch my own chapter images. Draco was just trying to be dry, but that line came off a lot funnier than he probably wanted.

Your timeline is correct. Astoria is in her sixth year, Ginny and Luna are in their "natural" seventh and Hermione is sitting her seventh year year that she was forced to miss due to being a muggle-born and, you know, having other things to see to. Ron and Harry decided to forgo their seventh years to begin Auror training, as did Neville and a number of other D.A. members. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! ;)

The idea that Draco would have been forced to participate in a lot of terrible things seemed almost inescapable to me. He was Voldemort's whipping boy. Lucius Malfoy's son, marked as a Death Eater specifically to be made an example of. So whenever there was an opportunity to try to break him, I'm sure Voldemort didn't hesitate. There certainly isn't any way JKR would have gone there in the books, but they constantly allude to the horrible things going on around Britain.

I know where I want the story to end, but I'm still working on exactly how to get there. I started off thinking this would be 4 or 5 chapters. Now it's starting to look a lot longer in my head. At any rate, I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Chapter 6 is about half done at this point, and I have to say I'm pretty excited about it. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #18, by patronus_charm 

27th February 2013:
Hi again!

Thank you for the clarification in the last response, as it was a little confusing! In response to the other response, Iím already reading Before They Fall, and itís great!

I rather liked the ambiguity as to who Draco was talking to at the beginning of this chapter. I was tied between Astoria and Narcissa, as he seemed to care about the person who he was talking to, and seemed rather open when speaking to them, and I realised it could have only been one of those two.

I was really relieved to find that Astoria and Draco had managed to get away fine though, because the way you left it at the end of the last chapter, had me really worried that something serious had happened to Astoria due to the avada of the avada kedavra being said.

You wrote the dialogue between Astoria and Draco really well, and you could tell that they seemed to be getting closer, and it was nice to see. It was also really good, as it meant we got to find out things we may have not known otherwise. For example the thing about his apparation license being taken away, and then the comments about his Aunt made me laugh!

It was interesting to have more of a backstory to Ratcliffe and his actions. No I know why they did that to Draco, it lessens my sympathy for him. Sure he didnít seem that proud of what he did, but what happened to the others was far worse, so it would have only been their natural reaction to do what they did to Draco.

A tiny little Brit pick here! British people never tend to have porchs or use the word porch, I guess the best alternative to this would be path.

The rest of Draco and Astoriaís date/coffee meeting/heart to heart, was really great. Draco revealed more about himself, and I loved the little banter between the two about his tattoo and Daphneís wedding. They seemed to be getting closer and closer, and it really is lovely to see that develop. Then the kiss and the promise of writing just made me even happier.

I thought that was brave of Astoria to go to McGonagall, especially when she said the part about people judging him to quickly, as you could tell that last part was sort of aimed at McGonagall. I loved that question McGonagall asked at the end, as it seemed to me as if she was trying to forgive Draco, and Astoriaís response to it was also great, as it seemed so true.

Iím really liking this story, so I hope the next chapter will be along soon!


Author's Response: Hi! I'm glad I could straighten that up for you. It really highlights the most difficult part of writing in this style where the dialog is always disconnected from the rest of the text. I don't think I'll repeat this experiment.

Ha! It never occurred to me that I'd left that ambiguous. Part of me wants to make it more clear, but then again you liked it. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. ;)

Draco let his walls down in a way that was a pretty big deal for him in this chapter. It definitely gave Astoria a better understanding of him and a lot of things to think about. And the snarky little line about Bellatrix, well, that was just for fun.

I guess the gist of the story with the Ratcliffe family is that the idea of "good guys" and "bad guys" tends to get really blurry when you dig into the details of the war. Everyone is justified in their own mind because they're only doing what the had to do to survive.

Thanks for pointing out my Americanism. I'll figure out some way to tidy that up.

I think McGonagall is rethinking Draco, but she hasn't made any decisions yet. I'm sure Hermione's "confession" made an impression on her. Astoria's opinions will also nudge her in that direction. But she's still a long way from trusting or accepting him.

The next chapter is partly written. Other things keep getting in the way, but fear not, I will get there. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #19, by Gabriella Hunter 

15th February 2013:

I'm really sorry that I didn't come back and attack this properly. For some reason, I've been bombarded with both real life and having to clean out my review thread. Its been making me all annoyed and such because I'd wanted to catch up on this and some other stories that I'd been reading.
But who cares about that?! I'm so relieved that Draco and Astoria made it away from the Ratcliffe's without real injury. I was really worried from the last chapter and the fact that Draco was able to disapparate at all was startling. What I really enjoyed, aside from the wonderful way you described him and his emotions of course was the simple banter that he and Astoria had. There was nothing over the top, just a simple, "prat" that spoke volumes for me and gave me a great perspective of how their relationship could be. Draco is incredibly stubborn but Astoria is as well so that might keep them busy for a while. The conversation and confessions that he gave her just simply blew my mind, I was so engrossed in this that I sort of ignored whatever else was happening.
I'd never heard of many stories detailing what Draco might have been doing during the War but you put so much detail and feeling into it that it was completely believable and fantastic. Astoria's reactions were great and I'm so glad that she didn't run off and abandon him, as Draco seemed to think she would. There are some surprises in store for them both I think, since their talk didn't go in the direction that most people would consider "romantic". It was far more realistic and emotional than just a fluffy lovey-dovey thing and thank god for it. Hahaha.
So, Hermione! I'm really glad that she told the truth and defended Draco to McGonagall, though I had a feeling that she would either way.
The fact that Astoria took up all that time to tell McGonagall what she thought about Draco and even telling HER what she thought needed to change really stuck out to me. She's really got some spirit in her and I like that shse wasn't afraid to show it and go out of her way for him either. I think that made all the difference at the end and the fact that McGonagall took that into consideration, at least a little bit, showed something to me.
So, I can't wait for your next update! I'm wondering how Astoria's father is going to feel about their relationship? Well, I sort of know but I wonder how he's going to handle it when she tells him? If things progress, anyway.
Anyhoo, no CC's, it was wonderful and amazing and all that good stuff. :)
Much love,

Author's Response: Hi, there!

No worries. I can see that you're definitely busy. Please take your time and enjoy!

Draco suffered minimal damage in their flight from Hogsmeade and I think that Astoria actually finds his brave front very endearing, so it all worked out for the best. The two of them have a pretty easy dynamic with one another. They come from similar backgrounds with similar -- although not identical, obviously -- values.

I imagine that Draco got sent on a lot of very dangerous assignments during the year between Dumbledore's death and the end of the war. His family was still out of favor with the Dark Lord and I always got the impression that Draco became a favorite whipping boy. That's part of why Voldemort taunts Draco and the rest of his family shortly before killing Charity Burbage at Malfoy Manor. In my mind, there wasn't any chance of Astoria running away, no matter what Draco told her about his past. She came to Hogsmeade to figure him out, and she's determined to get her answers.

I think Hermione is much too honorable not to be honest with McGonagall about what happened. She would be very concerned about how her actions reflect on the school and her position as Head Girl. After what she witnessed in the Potions classroom, I think she's also starting to feel just a bit bad for Draco. She was there in Malfoy Manor and the Room of Requirement. She saw Draco pretend not to know who Harry was and she saw him hesitate when Crabbe and Goyle were trying to goad him into killing Harry.

McGonagall isn't going to jump on the Draco Malfoy bandwagon just yet, but Astoria's heartfelt explanation is a start. She really did stick her neck out a bit, knowing what low regard the Headmistress holds Draco in. As far as her father goes, you'll find out soon. ;)

So glad you're enjoying the story. It's proving to be a little harder to write than Marked was, but overall I'm pretty happy with the results. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #20, by Jchrissy 

7th February 2013:
Ohh I love watching Astoria putting Draco in his place. Even if itís in her relatively subtle (not to subtle) way. She wasnít too harsh, but she made it clear that (even though she understands heís hurt) he has no right to snap at her. Silly Draco, youíll learn.

See, heís already learning when he adds that he appreciates what she did. Maybe there can be hope for him, after all ;)

You show so well that Astoria is a lot different from Draco. She went through the war (though not in the same way), she was raised a pureblood, but she understands a different sort of respect than Draco was taught. Her referring to Hermione as Miss Granger made me so happy. Because itís clear that, no matter what blood Hermione is, her position in the school and sheer intelligence isnít overlooked by all purebloods.

Your mention of Belllatrix and that she gave Draco the book and told him it was his own fault if he was hurt, is so so perfect. I can just hear her in my head.

ďIf you canít figure out how to manage a simple thing like Apparation, how on earth do you believe yourself worthy of serving the Dark Lord, Draco?Ē cue scary look.

The section about why those people wanted to hurt Draco was just as intense as the first time. Imagining Draco going through all that, having to watch it, be part of it. Itís so terrible.

And Astoriaís question! That one took my breath away, as well.

The fact that he wants her to understand that he didnít want the Mark.. that speaks so much about him. He needs her to realize that by the time he understood what he was doing, he didnít want to be doing it. Heís not a cruel person, he just didnít understand what he thought was right or wrong until it played out in front of him.

God sheís so cute. She doesnít stand a chance against McGonagall. But at the same time she does. Because she sees things without the prejudice that, though Iím sure McGonagall wishes she could forget, she never can. Sheís naive in such a perfect way.

And here! By McGonagallís small question of believing if Dracoís changed. Thatís more than her questioning Astoriaís judgement, itís her honestly wanting to know. Something our wonderful Astoria said went into McGonagallís head. And what a McGonagall! She was so, so perfect.

I wondered a few times how you would end this and what part McGonagall would play. Punishment wise. If Dracoís life would get even worse...

But it seems that things may actually look up from here. And Hermione going to talk to McGonagall and stand up for Draco is so exactly her.

Itís not hard to imagine how this young girl becomes Mrs. Malfoy one day. You managed to keep something incredible similar -- sheís a kind girl (woman, eventually) until she has a reason to be tough. Then she comes up with this strength that you wouldnít have thought she had, but it fits her.

I am in love with this chapter. Itís the best portrayal Iíve ever read of these two in the Ďstarting out phase.í And I have to admit, I probably wonít be able to be as patient for the next ;). Now that things are speeding up, I just want MORE.

Author's Response: Hello, darling! And once again, congratulations on your big promotion!

Thus begins a lifetime of Astoria being there to take Draco down a couple of pegs when he's being a jerk. She is the air valve in the back of his head for those moments when he gets too full of himself. As you mention, they do have certain things in common, but her upbringing was very different from his.

Ha! I cheerfully admit that when I was writing that section, the Bellatrix in my head bore a striking resemblance to the Bellatrix in BTF. She's such a nasty piece of work and you write her so very well!

Astoria looks at Draco very differently from other people. She was never tormented by him in school, and her family is secure enough in their station that they never needed to subjugate themselves in front of Lucius and kiss the ring. So she doesn't have any particular bias toward him, good or bad. It allows her to see certain things, like the fact that he never wanted to be what his father was.

While Astoria came into the conversation with McGonagall intending to sell her something, things didn't really turn out that way. It's a good thing because, like you said, Astoria isn't going to get anything past the Headmistress. But her simple honesty makes an impression. And I think Minerva is just beginning to rethink her opinion of Draco.

I'm really glad you liked this chapter. It's turned out to be one of my favorites in this story because so many important things are revealed. As always, thank you for your kind words, friendship and support. Until next time!

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Review #21, by Roots in Water 

6th February 2013:
Hello! I'm excited to see what sort of conversation Draco and Astoria will have now that they're in a more private place...

Oooh- another fantastic look into Draco's life after the war. I really admire your ability to understand what he went through as an unvoluntary Death Eater during the war. You don't soften his experiences, you don't have him commit any great acts of heroism to "redeem himself". Instead, you show that he made bad decisions, yes, but he was also very afraid for his and his family's lives. He was reluctant to contribute to the Death Eater's acts but he is not someone who would die for the Wizarding world, like Harry, and there's nothing truly wrong about that. He's human, that's all.

I think that he did a great job of showing his vulnerability in this chapter, of letting Astoria see more of who he is. It really shows just how much he wants to become closer to her, since his pride forbids him from opening in such a manner to everyone.

I also really liked how Astoria was one of the few to see the difference between receiving the Dark Mark and wanting to receive it, as there really is a large difference between the two possibilities. Furthermore, I think that Draco did a great job of explaining his thoughts about the Dark Mark. He didn't just start in and explain his hatred of the mark in an over-the-top manner, which certainly would have gained him points in some company... But not Astoria's. He was able to see that she really wanted the truth and all of the grey areas that accompany it.

Your explanation of his feelings toward the Dark Mark was fantastically done. It fit Draco's character perfectly, with his admiration of his father and his slow realization of what the mark actually meant. It was well put when he said that the mark didn't give you any power, it just made you a slave.

However, I was a little confused by Draco's explanation of what had happened between him and the Ratcliffes. I understand why he and Greyback went to seek them out, but then you said Greyback attacked the middle son... And Astoria asked if it was the "youngest son", to which Draco nodded yes. Did I miss something? What is the significance of him being the youngest son... And when you said "middle son", were you referring to his position in the row?

I also really liked that you added Astoria's encounter with McGonagall into this chapter. I was really interested to see how it would play out and so I'm very glad that I was able to sate my curiousity immediately! I really liked the twist you put with Hermione, especially since it does seem like Hermione to defend Draco from the prejudice she likely (and truly) thought he would receive from other witnesses.

I don't think that Astoria's words will result in an immediate change in McGonagall's treatment of Draco but I do think that it's planted the seed for a slightly gentler treatment in the future. Draco still needs to prove himself but McGonagall is probably more willing to give him the chance to prove himself now.

All in all, I think that you did a great job with this chapter and I'm eager to read what will happen next (especially Draco's surprise when he realizes that, against all odds, he's still enrolled in Hogwarts). While I can't say "Thank you for requesting a review!", I certainly can say "Thank you for replying to my status!". So thank you! :)

Author's Response: Hello, hello! Thanks for the generous offer!

I've never thought of Draco as "brave", per se. Probably the bravest thing he does in the books is when he lies to Bellatrix about not knowing who Harry is. But he is very devoted to his family. So I tend to cast most of his actions in terms of his motivation to stay alive and keep his family safe, or at least as safe as they can be under the circumstances.

I think the vulnerability he shows to Astoria is key. She's never going to accept that he's changed unless he lowers the walls somewhat and shows her. She's quite perceptive. So after he finishes baring his soul to her about the horrible night when he first met the Ratcliffes, I think it definitely would have made her question whether he ever wanted to be a Death Eater.

Draco's feelings about taking the Dark Mark are very grey, I think. I have to imagine that he spent the better part of two years wondering how getting everything he'd always dreamed of turned out to be such a horrible thing.

I guess I could have made the part about the three sons more clear. Madam Ratcliffe had three sons. The middle son tried to attack Draco and Greyback killed him. So when Astoria asks about "the third son", she isn't referring to their birth order but to the fact that only two of the Ratcliffe boys attacked Draco in the last chapter in Hogsmeade.

McGonagall is doing some thinking by the end of this chapter. Like most people, she isn't ever going to forget which side Draco fought for. She will also never forgive him for allowing Bella, Greyback and the others into the castle on the night Dumbledore died, even though Dumbledore was fully aware of what was going to happen. But she is beginning to take note in the change she sees in Draco. More on this in future chapters.

I'm really glad you liked the chapter. This story is slow going for me because I know where it's going to end, but I haven't 100% figured out how I'm getting there. That's part of what makes it fun, I guess. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

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Review #22, by MissMdsty 

5th February 2013:
Those two, they just make my heart melt! Again, the descriptions were so intense, I almost felt short of breath when Draco was struggling to get a hold on himself.

I like how he can open up to Astoria and she is so understanding. In my mind, she is a lot like Narcissa and I think the two of them got along very well. It's always interesting how you can explain the events of the war through the eyes of the "bad guys". It's so strange yet at the same time humbling for me to see that Draco did indeed struggle with the moral issues of what he was doing and he wasn't just a robot programmed to do the Dark Lord's biding. The story about the man and his son was incredibly sad, it's a horrible thought that Lucius sent his child to bare witness and participate in something so cruel. I swear, the only back bone that man ever had was that cane he carried around and maybe the stacks of Galleons in his vault. It makes me sick. They should call Wizard Child Protection or something.

Astoria describing Bellatrix as a lady (nevermind the charming bit) brought a smile to my face. She is so well educated that she can even call the mother of all evil and cruelty a lady.

I also like how in character Hermione is. Even though she is in love with Ron, she still believes in doing what is right and she couldn't bring herself to abuse her position when anybody else would've done it.

I think McGonagall may regard Astoria as a little naive, since as she pointed out her family wasn't directly involved in the war and she didn't see all the things McGonagall saw or heard off. I think it's going to be an interesting journey to see how Astoria grows from a girl into a young woman and later the wife of Draco.

As always, this was flawless, with perfect grammar and spelling! Can't wait to read more!


Author's Response: Hi, there! Always a pleasure to see you, my dear.

There were a lot of intense emotions in this chapter. "Feels" as Jami would say. I'm glad that they came through well for you. Writing it was... hmmnnn... I'm not sure "scary" is the right word, but it required a lot of careful thought and fine-tuning to get it the way I wanted it.

The similarities between Astoria and Narcissa are not by accident. Draco sees them too, and I think it could become a topic of conversation between the two of them later on. ;)

I don't think of Lucius as being malicious. He's misguided and weak, and he gets himself in way over his head, but remember in Deathly Hallows when he's begging the Dark Lord to be allowed to go after Harry so he can search the castle for Draco? I never thought that was the request of an evil man or a complete coward. I think Lucius was in love with the *idea* of being a Death Eater. He liked the idea of people being afraid of him and he liked to dabble with dark magic. But the Dark Lord's true supporters -- people like the Lestranges, Barty Crouch Jr, Dolohov and Rookwood -- were a whole different kind of person. They were either fanatically dedicated to Voldemort or they were cruel, sadistic sociopaths who enjoyed violence and killing.

Even after hearing Draco explain a bit of what life as a Death Eater was like, Astoria still doesn't really understand what people like Bellatrix were all about. Don't worry, she'll get a better idea before this is over.

Hermione is the sort of person, at least to me, whose conscience wouldn't allow her to lie to McGonagall about what happened.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this chapter. Aside from the first one, this one was the most fun to write. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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