Reading Reviews for Detox, Chapter 14: Clarity
12 Reviews Found

Review #1, by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap 

10th June 2015:
He was going to find Astoria and keep her safe. Safe from Flint and Gamp, safe from the foolish conceits of her parents...

I think after the conversation Horatio and his wife had theyíre going to accept Draco. Especially because heís about to save daughterís from some sadistic fools.

Kind of have to feel for Daphne even though sheís so annoying. She loses her dunderhead of a husband right after their short honeymoon. Who is going to want to marry her then?

Turning to the wall beside the gate, he pointed his wand. Reducto. The old stonework exploded inward, opening a hole that he quickly stepped through.

For some reason I just envisioned Draco as Tom Cruise and the Mission Impossible song is now in my head. Come on Draco, itís not impossible!

With a disinterested flick of his wand, Gamp sent Daphne flying across the room into the wall.

What a pig! I hope heís killed by the end of the chapter or thrown in Azkaban and just shown no mercy.

When he comes back, Iíll even tell him how you kept it safe til you could get it to me. Weíll be rewarded beyond all his other servants.Ē

Man, how screwed up do you have to be? To want to bring him back. To want the glory. Then again I suppose it makes sense. I mean, what else does he have to live for, right? He canít exactly be a functional member of society.

he noted with grim satisfaction that Gamp and the others were merely watching.

Of course because theyíre not in charge. Gamp is NO ONE. So are the others. Theyíre just a bunch of fools who clearly donít get that they will lose their lives. They donít have the power or the sheer intelligence to start something like Voldemort had. They also arenít complete madmen. Bellatrix was insane. So were his other followers that stood by him to the very end. These are just foolish children that are looking for glory and arenít ready to be actual adults. Draco never got to be a child after 12/13. He is in a different league.


Dan, Dan, Dan!

What are you doing to me? Throwing all these curveballs and secret people my way. I canít even guess who it is because old Lucius isnít all there. Itís not going to be that saves the day.

Where are you pulling all these Death Eaters from? They should be rotting or something. The anticipation is killing me. I need to know, now!

Author's Response: Muahahahahaaa! You didn't think I'd let you finish this story without one more big cliffhanger, did you?

Yep, Draco's on the right path here. It will be hard for Astoria's parents not to accept him if he pulls this off. If...

I love that you feel twinges of sympathy for my minor characters. Poor Daphne tends to be a star-crossed ninny when I write her. I will never understand people who pair her with Harry...

Gamp will get his just desserts, although I don't kill him until CoB. ;)

You're right about Avery. Without the Dark Lord, he has nothing. Plus, he understands the Dark Lord's wrath better than most. Remember that Avery's the one Voldemort tortures in the graveyard because he didn't search for Voldemort after the end of the first war. Even if he doesn't know for sure that Voldemort will return, he's unwilling to risk falling out of favor.

Who is the mysterious new arrival? Tune in to our next chapter to find out... :p

Thanks so much for all of the awesome reviews!

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Review #2, by Pixileanin 

3rd January 2015:
Happy New Year, Dan! Resolution #1: continue reviewing this story. Onwards!

Just because all is quiet on the outside, doesnít mean itís the same on the inside. Good observation skills, Draco. And itís a good way to build Dracoís tension. Heís not about to let his guard down now.

ďShe might have been mad, but she was seldom wrong when it came to hurting people.Ē

Argh. So cold and calculated, but I canít fault Draco for his actions here. Heís lived around dangerous people for a long time, and I think that finally, his experiences are going to be what keeps him alive in this situation. Although, if youíve been climbing into Bellatrixís head and having tea, you might require a little detox session of your own one dayÖ worried, Dan. As a concerned friend...

Remembering your comments, I think you made the right decision to keep Draco focused on Astoria in chapter 13, because it flows on to here, where he has made her his single-minded goal. If you had showed him any other way before, his purpose-driven actions may have seemed a bit out of place. After the setup from the previous section, his thoughts and actions here are more than justified. Itís the whole reason why heís driven, so it works really well.

Ahh, Avery is a surprise! I love the descriptions, ďdangerously unstableĒ and ďvolatile brutish natureĒ. I almost cheered when he blasted Gamp across the room, except that with this kind of guy, you canít take anything he says or does for kindness.

ďHeíd be expecting Draco to deny that the object existed and, since it actually did not exist, Draco couldnít see a better alternative.Ē

I think this best describes exactly how dangerous this game is. Telling more lies isnít going to help, and will probably hurt much worse if heís found out.

Youíve made Avery out to truly be insane. I can only imagine what everyone else is thinking while he goes about making things personal with Draco. And the way you portray him, I donít even think that dueling to the death is personal, itís just something that he does, maybe even something that he enjoys doing. I almost thought he was being a little too perceptive when he caught Draco and Astoria exchanging glances, but then again, if heís made a life out of hurting people, heíd be looking for an advantage like that to use against his opponent. And heís been smart enough to stay alive all this time too, so bad on me for underestimating his comprehension.

One of the things that I have a difficult time with in fight scenes is all the names of all those spells? In the heat of battle, I canít imagine having to double-think through my next move, AND remember what everything is called. It all seems so complicated in my head. I would be a very bad Auror indeed. I love how you described the furniture volleys across the room, and the actions, and resulting reactions, and the blasting. Blasting. Iíd think of that. Beyond the explosions, Iíd have been completely lost.

Oh no! Not Imperio! That man is insane! How long are the rest of them going to stand around andÖ

Okay. Never mind. And who is this new person whoís just arrived??

I would be remiss if I didn't comment on how brilliantly you were able to include Draco's emotions into the action. His anger management has been a constant theme throughout this story. You've shown how he draws strength from his fury when it gets out of control. Here, and in a few scenes preceding this, you've given him that strength, coupled with a focus, which brings him that much closer to control. He's fighting with a singular focus, and all is not lost as long as he has a hope of defending Astoria.

And poor Astoria, waking out of her daze to see her love standing over her with a kni... wand. I really like how you show Draco breaking through the Imperio curse as Avery becomes more and more distracted, and that we get to see it through Astoria's perception. She doesn't understand everything that's happening around her, but the imminent danger that she's in is not lost on her. And she's very aware of Draco's struggle to break free. It seems that they're both of the same mind here. If they could just sneak out the back when no one is looking and run like the wind...

Author's Response: Hi, pix! Happy New Year! I'm flattered that I figured into your resolutions.

Draco is pretty world-weary by this point in his life. One could argue he's also wiser than he used to be, although the wisest course of action probably wasn't charging into the Greengrass home by himself. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that he learned from his Aunt Bellatrix? I guess if it keeps him alive, it can't be all bad. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I enjoy getting inside Bella's twisted head? This is left as an exercise for the reader. ;)

I'm glad you felt the continuity between Draco's thoughts and actions in the last chapter and this chapter. I really needed him to be believable here or the scenes just don't work.

As I'm sure you realize, an awful lot of how I envision Avery is based off of the way he appears in Until We Close Our Eyes. He's beyond just being fanatical. He's genuinely mentally ill. In some ways, he's higher-functioning than Bellatrix, in other ways he's even more dangerous. Dueling to the death isn't just something he does, he genuinely enjoys it. He enjoys all of the power games that come with life-or-death struggles and he's good at them.

Who is the new arrival? You will soon find out. ;)

There's nothing inherently wrong with being angry, it's all in how you manage it. I'm glad that you could see that progress in Draco. The way he marshals his temper here is a big difference compared to chapter 4, when he loses it and gets cursed by Hermione for his trouble.

Part of me does wish that I could just let them sneak out somehow and let Mr. Greengrass and Daphne deal with Gamp and Avery. They all deserve one another. But that wouldn't make a very good story. I hope you like the big finale in the next chapter.

Thanks so much!

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Review #3, by Veritaserum27 

14th August 2014:
Hi Dan,

I'm here (finally) to review this next chapter. And it was a fantastic chapter, at that!

I love the way that you've brought us right into Draco's emotions. Not just in this chapter, but since the first sentence of the first chapter, where everything was blurry and confusing and he was drunk in the bar. This is the antithesis. Everything is finally clear for Draco. You've beautifully paralleled his clarity through your description of the scene in front of him. He is focused on keeping Astoria safe and he clearly has his goal in mind. With that, he clearly sees all the details of the outside of the manor house. Brilliant.

Maybe this gets answered in the next chapter, but did Flint die? I know that Sectumsempra causes intense, severe bleeding and I didn't think anyone could live for very long without the countercurse. Hmmm...

Another battle scene. Oooo! This one is just as good if not better than the last one. There were more people in the room and more comings and goings so that could have come off as confusing. But yet again, your skill at balancing description with action was spot on. I did read this one through several times, but that was for sheer enjoyment because it was so well done, and not because I was trying to pick up details that I'd missed.

In addition to the great description, there is another layer that you add to your dueling scenes. While a good author will make sure the scene is well thought out with action and reactions from both parts, you also include the mental element that comes from within the character. I'm not just talking about what the character is thinking at the time - that is easy. As a tennis player (okay, its been a while...), a large part of the game is how your opponent views your skill. Even if you are not as good as they are, if they think you can beat them, you can win the match. This is done subtly, by positioning yourself at certain points on the court in relation to them and by small acts of body language. You are the first author I've read that has translated this into a duel. Its no small feat, but it adds so much realism and depth to the story. Like tennis, it is subtle but an enormous part of an actual duel. If Draco had given off an air of fear, Avery would've sensed it immediately and gone in for the kill, without hesitation.

And of course the love story continues to play out between them. I love you. He just has to say it because they are both in mortal peril and if he doesn't do it now, it might be too late and those words in that moment just added so, so much depth to the scene. Aaahh. Good job with the feels on that one.

I did catch two small typos:

With a disinterested flick of his wand, Gamp send Daphne flying across the room into the wall.

I think you meant 'sent' not 'send.'

And here:

Astoria's breath caught in her through when she remembered the moment he'd cast the Cruciatus Curse on her.

Did you mean to say 'Astoria's breath caught in her throat...?' I wasn't sure.

But, wow. This was great. Superb.

Thanks for writing this!


Author's Response: Yay, typos have been stamped out! Thank you for catching them.

I'd love to claim that the parallels between Draco's perception of the world around him and his mental state were intentional, but that wouldn't really be the truth. It's better to be lucky than good sometimes. I'm really glad that everything meshed for you. To me, setting is a huge part of good storytelling.

Flint survives his injuries. Draco didn't intend to kill him, only to completely incapacitate him. He lives to make an appearance as one of the villains in Conspiracy of Blood.

Wow, I think you might be the only person who's ever re-read these scenes for enjoyment! I think that action and description have to go hand in hand. Otherwise, you get a big, confusing blur in the reader's mind. Sometimes that's appropriate, like in a melee. But here, we have a very intense, one-on-one fight that's the sole focus of Draco's attention.

Draco learned to fight from his Aunt Bellatrix. Crazy as she might have been, she was a vicious, cunning fighter and she was masterful at playing on her opponents' mental and emotional weaknesses. I completely agree with your observation on the need to make your opponent *think* that you can beat them. Draco and Avery both might have known that Draco was no match for the older, more seasoned wizard, but Draco wasn't about to show that and it created enough hesitation in Avery's mind that it nearly carried the day. Nearly...

Draco knew that it might be his last chance to tell Astoria how he really felt and he wasn't going to miss it. I think there's also a small message in there about the limits of the Imperius Curse when it comes up against love.

I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it! Only two more to go! :)

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Review #4, by Roisin 

28th July 2014:

It was always the flaw of Death Eaters that they cared too much about style. If Voldy hadn't insisted on using Harry's blood for resurrection, he'd have saved himself a world of hurt.

Also, the reintroduction of the "artifact" was great. I'm really impressed you were able to keep plot threads going while writing the story in a serialized way. It's really well paced, and seems meticulously planned. Sometimes, stories tend to meander, lose their footing, and then stumble towards a conclusion. Here, you have a really tight narrative going.

Alsoalso, and this has happened several times so far, I really like how Draco is always bringing up the things he learned as a Death Eater. It was such a formative time in his youth to spend so horribly, and you do a really good job of transmitting the gravitas of such an experience.

I'm sure I have loads more to say, but I'm tryna find out who the hooded/masked arrival is!

Author's Response: Death Eaters do have a tendency to go for the coup de grace instead of sticking to simple things that work. No doubt about that.

There were a few plot threads that I planned to run all the way through, like the "mystery" Death Eater that Gamp had allied himself with. Then there were others where I just got lucky. I have to admit that Draco's phony "artifact" fell into the latter category. It seemed like a convenient lie for him to tell Zabini at the time I invented it and it took on a life of its own from there.

I don't know about you, but I find that lessons tend to stick with me a whole lot better when they're matters of life and death. Most of what Draco learned during the war, he had to learn in order to survive.

Only one more review to respond to. I'm feeling accomplished, but also kind of sad. It's been a fun journey. Thanks for reviewing and on to the final one...

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Review #5, by UnluckyStar57 

27th June 2014:
Hi! The House Cup is in full swing, but I'm sneaking away for a moment to review Chapter 14!

To start off, I like that Draco's main thought when he blasts open the gates is that he must keep Astoria safe. Back in the days of his neophyte Death Eater-dom, he would've only wanted to save himself, giving no thought to his friends or loved ones. Now his only concern is for her safety, and it's easy to see that he has definitely changed for the better.

Whoa, and he's mad, too! Flint is in his way and he isn't going to put up with it. Sectumsempra seems really harsh, but it was absolutely necessary. Hopefully Flint won't die, though... I think that all of these men don't need to die because there has already been enough of that. The security in Azkaban needs to be heightened and they all need to be tried for crimes against humanity, but if they all die now, they won't live with the remorse of their actions (if they do, indeed, feel remorse).

Gamp... Gamp is just a terrible person. Daphne is sorely misguided in her trust of him, but that doesn't mean that he can throw her around! And her father is a stubborn old coot, but he shouldn't be attacked for choosing not to fight on either side. That's the difficulty of war--if you don't pick a side, one (or both) will come after you.

Avery is horrible. Horrible!! And no, I didn't expect it to be him, but gosh, he sounds like his years with Voldemort have sufficiently brainwashed him. Can't these people realize that the war is over?! No, I guess not. It makes me mad that Avery would try to organize a new group of Death Eaters to serve Voldemort when he doesn't even exist anymore... But his mind must be severely twisted and messed up, so it does make sense. Draco's bit of distraction with the "object" was a good thing, but Avery won't let it rest there.

Poor Astoria. She can't even fend for herself because she doesn't have a wand. It's good that Draco is looking out for her, but it's just awful that he has to use spells on her against his will. Did he fight the Imperius off in the end? It seems to be so. Good for him! Maybe now Astoria can recover her wand and look out for Draco just as much as he's looking out for her.

Oh, great. Another creepy Death Eater!! Who will it be this time? Gamp was scary, Avery was scarier... Will this new character be the scariest of them all? I don't know. But it's definitely just like a Death Eater to show up when they aren't wanted. Hopefully Draco can stop him.

The battle played out quite intensely! These last few chapters seem to be pretty battle-heavy, but it's all really vivid and easy to follow, so it never gets boring. I like how you manage to describe the chaos that's going on while also keeping track of Draco's thoughts and actions. It's quite a lot to balance!

Oh wow, two more chapters! Things are definitely reaching the boiling point now!


Author's Response: Ah, the House Cup. No wonder the forums are so busy. I confess I've barely had time to pay attention this year. Best of luck to all involved!

Draco is fairly single-minded in this chapter, now that you mention it. He's come a long, long way from being that arrogant, cowardly boy in the first five books of the series.

Draco was too intent on what he was doing to spare much of a thought for Flint. You'll be pleased to know that Flint does survive to enjoy a long, refreshing stay in Azkaban.

Would it bother you if I told you that you haven't even seen the worst of Jeremy Gamp yet? You'd have to read Conspiracy of Blood for that. There's an old saying that nobody comes out of prison better than they went in, and Gamp turns out to be living proof of it.

Avery is really a mess of a human being by this point. His mind is completely bent, having served Voldemort in two wars and then spending nearly a year on the run from the Ministry. But he's still very dangerous, as Draco discovers.

Astoria is very much out of her depth around violent lunatics like Gamp and Avery. You'll find out very soon how the whole mess turns out. I promise it's not too bad.

Who is the new arrival? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you'll find out in the next chapter. Right away, actually.

I really enjoy writing fight scenes, and I got to do quite a lot of them in this story. The funny thing is that I didn't really mean for it to be that way. This was supposed to be a love story. Guess I can't help myself. ;)

Two more to go! I'm really excited to see what you think of the next one. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #6, by TheHeirOfSlytherin 

21st March 2014:
Here comes Draco! Ahh! And the 'good guys' called him a coward. *shakes head at them* Silly good guys. Where are they, eh? :P

More dueling! I love all the action, you write it so awesomely. I wish I was half as good, until then I'll stick to horror/dark and mystery. I loved this scene so much, I really thought Draco might kill them when he saw Astoria there, or really hurt them to get to her.

Avery! Wow. I made a small list of Death Eaters and he was on it, but I didn't really know if it would be him. But it is and, whoa, he's creepy evil. I don't like him because he's the bad guy and he's got Draco and Astoria, but I do like him because he's a good bad guy. You know what I mean? :D

:O Imperius curse! Didn't see that coming! Resist, Draco, resist!

He's resisting! And Astoria knows he's good and he said I love you and, gah, it's a bad situation but I have happy-ish moments in it.

Wait, who's the new guy? There's a new guy! So, it isn't Avery? Or is New Guy gate crashing?

Definitely going to the next chapter!


Author's Response: Draco is no coward. I like to think he's proven that by this point in the story. When he believes something needs to be done, he does it. Where are the good guys? Well... they might be closer than you think. ;)

All of the fighting in this chapter was really rewarding to write because it gave me a chance to really take the gloves off of Draco and be creative with his fighting style. Mixing it up with a hardened killer like Avery takes away all of the limits. He's doing whatever he must to survive.

I take most of my Avery head canon from pixileanin's brilliant Until We Close Our Eyes for Good. He's deranged and more than a little dangerous. Like an older version of Gamp, only less brooding. It's no wonder the two of them don't get along.

Draco resists as much as he's able. He's no Harry when it comes to being able to cast off the curse, but he still puts up a good fight. At least until the new guy shows up. Who is the new guy? Tune in to the next chapter and find out!

Thanks for all the love!

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Review #7, by Remus 

16th January 2014:
I've finally made it back!!

What immediately caught my eye here was how serene things are on the outside when there's a storm brewing inside the Greengrass manor.

Have I told you that I love Gamp? No, seriously. You have taken a character who was just sort of mentioned in the Black Family tree and created this evil person from scratch. Gamp is your character. Your creation. He just happens to have a name that JKR gave his family. You seriously have outdone yourself with Gamp. So I request a fic about him! Just go get inside his head once would be wonderful!

Daphne here feels different than your Daphne from CoB. I know that these are two different stories but you've kept everyone the same except Daphne. I mean, she does sound a bit conceded and arrogant but in this chapter we see a different woman.

I LOVE the plot twist. I really did think that Malfoy had been the one that got together with the young generation and was plotting. But no! It was Avery! Tricky, tricky of you! I loved it! Gah!

Big question! Is this "artifact" that Malfoy supposed to have the same "artifact" he was supposed to have during CoB? Cus I remember the vaguely that Draco was supposed to have and Malfoy Manor got broken into.

Gamp and Avery just really don't get along. And Gamp is too thick to see that he's just being used as a pawn. Avery is too smart and I honestly think he doesn't need Gamp and his friends. I mean, who really wants to deal with a a bunch of teens and twenty-somethings after dealing with the Dark Lord?

Who is this person that has arrived? Part of me wants to say that it's Lucius in his still "crazed" state but at the same time I want to say that its another evil Death Eater. I guess I need to read the next chapter to find out!!!

Anyway, this was another fantastic chapter, Dan! I've come close to the end real quick! Just 2 more chapters to go and I'll be done!

Until next time!!


Author's Response: Hi, Rosie!

There was a bit of a contrast between the outside of the manor versus the inside, at least until Flint comes out and spoils the serene setting.

Loving Gamp isn't a commonly held opinion, but I'm glad that the character works so well for you. As a villain, he's been a lot of fun to work with. I sort of doubt I'll ever have a story dedicated just to him, but it's an interesting idea.

I think Daphne is younger and more heart-broken here than when you see her in CoB. By the time she and Astoria are in their 60's, she's pretty resigned to living her entire life vicariously through her sister.

I'm been trying to gradually lead the reader toward the idea that Lucius might not be behind Gamp's conspiracy since somewhere back around chapter 5, but it's finally a sure thing. I liked the idea of throwing Avery into the mix because I came to think of him as such a demented guy while reading pix's Until We Close Our Eyes for Good.

The "artifact" is something that Draco made up when he was trying to explain to Zabini why he needed to go to Daphne's wedding. Unfortunately, that lie came full circle in this chapter. Avery doesn't understand horcruxes, but he does know that Voldemort had "experiments" that allowed him to survive his first defeat in Godric's Hollow. He isn't willing to chance Voldemort's anger a second time by not doing whatever he can to possibly assist his dead master.

Gamp and Avery can't agree on who's top dog in this situation. They're both alphas by nature, and neither respects the other. This *might* just work in Draco's favor...

The person who arrived at the end of the chapter is... a surprise. :p You'll know very soon.

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

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Review #8, by MissesWeasley123 

24th November 2013:
Hi. I am caved in my house due to this brutal fall of snow -.- And now I'm reading!


I was sure I was like, really behind.. This is weird.

And asdfghjkl; this chapter. SO much action in it! You're so good at churning out these dueling chapters and it's fabulous how awesome you write! The imagery is absolutely fabulous.

I loved the little things about Bellatrix you managed to weave in, and Avery was frightening. His duel with Draco was so intense and I could not take my eyes off the screen. It seemed to scroll down by itself. Gamp was literally going crazy and there was so many things going on my mind was blown on how you managed to keep it so intact!

The duels were written so well as were the effects of all the spells. You showed the Imperius Curse and I was completely panicking because Avery could've made Draco do anything to Astoria!


And this mystery masked man, oh my goodness. What a rubbish cliffhanger :(

Flawless work as always!

Author's Response: Hi, Nadia!

By the time the big storm reaches us -- crosses fingers -- it's supposed to have turned to rain. So I'm really, really hoping that forecast holds up.

YES, ONLY TWO MORE CHAPTERS! Sorry about that, but you started it. :p

Anyway, this chapter was a lot of fun to write because there was so much going on. Fun, but stressful at the same time. I was more worried about Gamp than anyone else, actually. I wasn't sure whether it made sense that he became sort of a passive spectator once Avery emerged onto the scene. Anyway, I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Yep, he used The L Word, at one of the most pivotal moments of the story. That's how you know he means it.

The masked man will be revealed soon. In fact, since you've already reviewed the next chapter, you already know who he is. So it wasn't **that much** of a cliffhanger, was it?

Ah, so close to the end! Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #9, by Courtney Dark 

17th November 2013:

Wow, it has been far too long since I read and reviewed the last chapter of Detox, and I am so sorry about that! But I'm back now, so we can all celebrate! Woo! Not to sound up myself or anything...

Anyway, this chapter was just absolutely superb. You are so amazing at writing these confrontations between Draco and 'the bad guys' and even better at writing duelling scenes. I seriously don't know how you do it. You manage to keep this duel so fast and intense and a little scary, but believable (well, as believable as a duel can be, anyway) and complex at the same time. I don't even know what else I can say about it, except that you need to share the writing talent pills, please.

I'm so sad that I only have two chapters to go of this awesome story, because I have really grown to love the way you've written Draco. You've made him into this really likeable guy for me, without him becoming this completely unDracoish character.

I enjoyed Astoria's point of view, too, especially that cliffhanger at the end! Who is this masked wizard, I wonder? I guess I'll just have to read on to find out!


Author's Response: Hi, Courtney!

No need to apologize! I always love seeing you back again. Believe me, I'm celebrating, too! :)

I really enjoy writing fight scenes, and this one was no different. I like the challenge of trying to keep a mental picture of everything that's going on and where various characters are standing and what they're doing. This one was over relatively quickly, but it was definitely intense.

Only one more to go before the epilogue, but they're both pretty intense. I hope you like them. I never really start out with the intention of making Draco likeable. He still has some prejudices and a mean streak. But I'm glad you've come to think of him differently.

The masked wizard will be revealed very soon. I'm really curious to see what you think of the final outcome.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #10, by patronus_charm 

18th October 2013:
Hey Dan!

Wow, that opening scene was just superb. You built it up so well with all of Dracoís internal thoughts and how he his love for Astoria really was the thing which carried him through this. Then the way you gradually introduced each obstacle in his path with him having to deal with Flint first and then Goyle and so on was an excellent way to build the tension and suspense and had me on edge throughout. The action sections in it were also written well in it too with the pace of it never dropping.

The turning point of the chapter really was Gampís arrival because from then, anything could have happened and my wildest guesses were often the ones which were correct. The sign of affection from Daphne for her sister and husband was really wonderful. It added a touch of humanity which is so often missing from this side of the war and reminded me that they were essentially humans.

I liked how you showed the different side of villains with the brief mentions towards the sadistic Bellatrix, then the planning one with Gamp and the psychotic one with Avery. I liked his appearance as I was curious about what happened to the former high up ones, and it was interesting to see how he now had a more prominent position and the change in the hierarchy was done in a really subtle way which was good.

The way Avery used Astoria as a tool to play at Draco was great. Great in sense of showing how he evil he was, mind! I donít want you thinking Iím sadistic or something :P That scene really gave me the chills and the lack of dialogue immediately after really allowed the impact of it to resonate in their minds as well as my own.

The action scene was really great! My worry for Draco made me almost want to skip to the end and find out whether he comes out alive or not, but I somehow managed to continue reading. I had to give a little laugh though when I saw he was conquered by Petrificus Totalus. I think itís just because Hermione used it in first year, and how it was now being used in a deadly battle just seemed weird, in a good way mind!

I was going to comment on the Astoria section, but all my thoughts about the masked man have taken over and I just canít remember what I was going to say other than can the next chapter be up soon please! The suspense of who it could be is too much for me and I need to know now! A fantastic chapter though, and I eagerly await the next!


Author's Response: Hi, Kiana!

I'm glad the opening scene worked well for you. I went through a couple of iterations of that one. I kept feeling like it was too corny, so I dialed the internal monologue back a bit. Draco isn't quite as pensive as some of my other characters. I put in Flint and Goyle just to throw him a couple of bumps in the road, but they didn't slow him down much.

Poor Daphne was trapped in the middle at the start of this scene. She's brand new to this whole "devoted pureblood wife" thing and her new husband suddenly goes off his trolley and decides to overthrow the Ministry. I'm glad that she added something for you, because I typically just use her for comic relief. It's good to get something substantive from a character like that.

Villains are people, too. Each one is different and I think it's fun to explore what makes them tick, even if it is a little bit forced in this case. Since it's all coming from Draco's perspective, I wasn't able to really *show* how they were different as much as *tell* how. That would have been a much longer story, however, and I feel like Draco and Astoria's love story might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Avery is a monster, no doubt about it. He served the Dark Lord for so long that his sense of right and wrong is basically non-existent by this point. He had zero qualms about hurting anyone. Glad that worked well for you.

Avery takes Draco down with the combination of a pretty diabolical ploy and a pretty simple spell. You don't have to be a powerful dark wizard to win, you just have to be imaginative and completely devoid of a conscience.

The masked man will be revealed very soon. Well, sort of. You'll see. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing! They're always one of my highlights after I post a chapter!

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Review #11, by MissMdsty 

18th October 2013:
Hey Dan!

I read this a few days ago when it was posted, but now I've come back to review.

Where to start... This has to be the best chapter yet. It was packed with so much action and fighting and feels, I am overwhelmed! But in a good way!

I really enjoyed seeing what went on in Draco's mind as he rushed to Astoria, to save her or fix it or whatever he would find there. The tension build up was amazing and the way in which he analyzed what was going on, flawless.

I liked the fact that the whole fight between Gamp and Draco took place in front of Astoria and her family. It's the kind of "cold shower" I think she really needed, because up until this point, Draco's world was something she knew hypothetically, not something she had had a first hand experience with. Though I am sad that she had to witness it like this, with her father on the floor and her sister torn between her marriage and her family.

The duel with Avery was impeccable. It kept me on my toes and I was so nervous. It seemed for a while there that Draco did have the upper hand, but then again, Avery has been around since the First War and his skill and madness would make Draco's pale by comparison.

And then Draco told Astoria "I love you" and I just lost it. It was such an intense chapter, filled with so many emotional moments, but that one just made me tear up. Partly because of the raw emotion you managed to convey in this chapter, but mostly because I think of your Draco stories as a timeline. We started with "Marked", now "Detox" and then "Conspiracy of Blood". And that one moment, when Draco stopped and looked at her, just to tell her he loves her, it's something I can't quite express. Because he could have died. Those people wouldn't think twice about killing him, they have killed before. It was a life and death situation and he wanted his last words to her to be "I love you", beyond fear, or hate, or the struggle for power, he wanted her to know she was loved. What could be more powerful than that?

And then you changed the rules of the game again, when the real person behind this showed up!

I know you said this was originally a bigger chapter, split into two parts, and you chose the place where it should end perfectly. I'm a little sad that this story is almost done, I've grown to like Draco when you write him!

This was amazing Dan! Really! I am so blown away by how much emotion and feeling you packed up in a few thousand words! Brilliant!

Author's Response: Hi, Ral!

If you feel like the story is still getting better this late in the game, I guess I can't do much better than that. Thank you!

Everything that happens after Draco arrives in the great room was eye-opening for Astoria's mother. Her father is already unconscious by that point, unfortunately. Still, it certainly helps his case. Astoria also learned a great deal about the things Draco has dealt with in his life. Aside from her brief encounter with the Ratcliffe family, dark witches and wizards were mostly hypothetical to her up to this point. Now it's all very real.

Whee! The duel between Draco and Avery was fun to write. Avery is past his prime and not in the best physical condition, but he's still wily and vicious.

When Draco tells Astoria that he loves her, I felt like that was as close as he'd come to believing he was going to die in this story. He wanted to make sure that she understood why he'd chosen to come find her. To give you a bit of a sneak peek, Astoria has her own little "aha moment" in the next chapter on what it means to truly be in love.

The mysterious new arrival adds a twist to things. I promise not to keep you waiting too long to find out who he or she is and why they're there.

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

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Review #12, by Sharvi 

16th October 2013:
Wow, that was intense! You're really really good at writing all these fighting scenes considering the fact that I could actually follow them (usually I just skip over them because I find it hard to picture all the moves in my head =P )

Also, the part when Draco was just put under the Imperius curse was well described- I could totally see the physical Draco doing all these things and then mentally he's going berserk trying to stop himself from obeying orders. When Harry was first put under the curse I remember him thinking something along the lines of "that's pretty stupid" and my first instinct was to see Draco the same way. But he was immediately trying to fight it and I figured it's probably because he already knows how it feels to be under. And he manages to tell Astoria that he loves her! *swoon* probably in the most inappropriate moment. Haha, but really that was cute. Like he needed something to stay in control of himself.

And you leave us with another cliff hanger! I hope the next chapter comes sooner I really want to know how things are going to go down with this masked intruder =)

Author's Response: Hi!

I love writing dueling scenes, and I'm always tickled pink when people find them easy to follow. I spend a lot of time trying to visualize where the various characters are standing and how they're moving about.

I don't imagine that Draco is a natural at throwing off the curse the way that Harry was, but he's definitely not happy about it. He does manage to break through Avery's control just enough to tell Astoria how he feels. Timing hasn't been the strong suit of their relationship, has it? ;)

I'm working hard to wrap up the next chapter. I have a leg up because it was originally part of this chapter, so it's already mostly written. Soon, I hope...

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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