Hi! Back again!
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I adore the chapter images (and also the banner). Branwen is so talented, and I’m so envious that you managed to get such gorgeous graphics from her!
Anyway, onto the actual story haha.
Oooooh, intriguing. What exactly is Draco Malfoy up to? (I’m still free to answer that question, because the mystery is still super…mysterious haha at the end of the seventh chapter. What is the guy doing? I have to know!)
But also, I love this whole dynamic with Theo Nott that you’ve set up! It’s sooo good. I love that you’ve presented a different side to Slytherins, ones who may not necessarily fall in with Malfoy’s group, and that Theo’s funny and likeable. I’m super fond of Slytherins as a whole so seeing them being represented well makes me really happy!
You’re doing such a good job with this story! I hope I can come back and finish reviewing it some other day! <3
This is so late, but I’ve come to fill in some of the reviews that I skipped while reading this. (Congratulations on winning Story of the Month, by the way, it’s so well-deserved!) It’s probably a little weird that I reviewed the first and last chapters first, and now I’m going back through the middle, but it’s giving me a chance to reread this story which is always fun haha.
Anyway this chapter was a lot of fun! After the surprise of the first chapter, with the Head Boy not being Draco Malfoy (can you tell I’ve read way too many Dramione fics where they’re both Head Students), I enjoyed seeing Draco in a role separate from that. He’s still nasty and prideful, which I think fits his character as a teenager from the books, and the obvious tension between him and the Golden Trio was a lot of fun to read. I’ve already read these first seven chapters, but I still wonder where you’re going to go with his characterization! The mystery is really intriguing.
But I’m getting way, way ahead of myself haha. That scene where Hermione ended up sharing a carriage with Draco made me antsy. I don’t know how she managed to brush off the slur like that lol, especially since she’s now lived in the wizarding world long enough to know exactly what it means, but good on her. And I love that she said he “only” called her “Mudblood” two times, like that isn’t bad enough. Poor girl’s been desensitized to how nasty slurs can be, I suppose. But either way, I hope Hermione doesn’t start thinking that Draco’s changed until he fully stops using slurs to refer to her (and hopefully he’ll apologize to her later on, too).
The Sorting Hat song was very impressive! Good job!
A really fun chapter! <3
Wow that was a whirlwind of a chapter. Poor Hermione, I feel like she just always has so much going on. But of course I feel like a good portion of that just comes from the fact that she feels that she has to prove herself to everyone and has to be perfect at everything she does. So even when events aren't conspiring against her, she's so busy studying that she always seems to be slightly stressed.
I enjoyed the fact that this chapter was more emotionally driven and that we got to see a bit more behind Hermione's thoughts and actions. I thought that she was perfectly portrayed in this chapter between her reaction at seeing the blood as well as her intensity at the end of the chapter towards Draco who is currently the only suspect for who would do something like this. The part to me that felt the most realistic was when Hermione just sort of nodded her head to Harry when he said he was going to go see what was taking so long and then she just goes and sits on the steps wordlessly. I think the shock was just wonderfully portrayed and I can really see that in that particular section.
The ending also made me feel really bad for Draco. I feel like, he was sort of hopeful when Hermione spoke to him and said she knew what he was up to and then when she accused him of this prank he felt so defeated and wondered if she would ever see him as more than the Death Eater he had been.
And then there is the part of me that is really curious about everything going on with Hermione and Theo. Are they going to try and be more than friends? Will Theo be accepting when/if things begin to happen between Draco and Hermione? A part of me really likes the idea of the two of them together but at the same time I see them more as best friends with a brother/sister type of relationship.
I'm really excited to see what this next chapter will bring for our cast of characters. Will we end up finding out who is behind the prank and stealing the dragon's blood? Or do we still have a long ways to go before that is figured out? And just what did Draco mean in the last chapter when he said that she is going to be busier soon? I feel like he is up to something but I don't think that he was the one behind the prank.
I’m so intrigued by the amount of mystery and flavor you’ve added into this piece! I love how it’s not romance-centric, but that there’s this entire sub-plot that we have to figure out. I still have absolutely no idea what Draco is up to hahaha.
And another thing that I love: the fact that there’s this romantic subplot brewing between Theo and Hermione! In Dramiones, I’ve never really seen Hermione being given the option of another guy before.
Really really great job! <3
Hello, Eva dear!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review! I'm sorry for taking so long to respond!
I'm so glad that you like the story so far! I'd never really written a mystery, so it was fun to try to weave so many things together. I hope they continue to intrigue you!
Thank you again!
First of all, I can say that the chapter title is a complete lie, after having read this chapter haha. And so far, I’m loving this. I’ve heard so much about it, and so I thought I needed to stop by and read through this story! Dramione’s definitely one of my guilty pleasures haha, I don’t technically ship them but I love reading fics about them, because their dynamic is always a lot of fun!
That cliffhanger is giving me stress. Good thing I’ll be moving onto the next chapter after this haha.
When you said in the Author’s Note at the beginning that you were challenged to write a not-cliché Dramione, I admittedly was a little surprised when the story mentioned that the dormitories between Head Boy and Head Girl would be shared. Because, I’ve read so many Dramiones where the two are the Head Students and they share a dorm hahhaa. BUT THEN YOU SUBVERTED MY EXPECTATIONS. I WAS LIKE “WHAT” WHEN IT TURNED OUT TO BE NOTT INSTEAD.
I’m sooo curious to see how you continue with this story! <3
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! I'm so happy you liked this chapter. Dramione is my love, but this is definitely a slow-burn story. I can't wait to get more chapters posted (since the whole thing is written, after all).
I'm glad that I pulled the wool over your eyes with Theo as HB! I actually hate the Heads' Dorm trope, but I wanted to switch it around here a bit, so I wrote it in anyway, haha. I hope I still succeeded in changing it up a bit.
Thank you again for your compliments and comments!
Oh why must you leave me with this cliffhanger ending? You know that means that I have to continue reading on to the next chapter right?! And do you really want to make me do that :P I mean of course you do.
I thought that this chapter was very nice. The flow of the chapter was perfect and there was nothing I could find that broke it up or made it awkward at all. I seriously felt like I just started the chapter when it was suddenly at the end which I think shows that it was a great chapter. I love when I don't even really realize how much I've read as it means that I was drawn into the chapter I was reading and that I felt like I was there. Which of course all of those things make for a great chapter/story all around.
I love that when I jump back into the story I don't feel like I ever left it. I'm able to pick right back up and remember the characters and the story that you've set up for me already. I'm really sad that the next chapter is the only other chapter posted currently as I really just want to devour this story. Another thing that I love about it is that while it's a dramione you are taking time and effort to actually make sure that the relationship isn't forced upon the reader which is so amazing to see in a dramione because I feel like a lot of them do force the relationship too early just because they want it.
I'm really interested to see what it was that they need to get Professor McGonagall about and just exactly what Draco meant when he said that Hermione was going to be a lot busier soon. It's also nice seeing a different and more "normal" side to Slytherins. Honestly they are people as well and have passions and want to be liked as well so I always feel bad when they are always shown as the bad guys with no redeeming qualities to them. Every person has at least something good about them even if it is small not everybody is all bad even though sometimes that is all they want outsiders to see. Really great job on the chapter I look forward to reading more.
So here I am with my last review. I'm excited to find out what happened at the end of the last chapter. You know, the big question: what did Sam see? I'm not gonna ramble on too much here because I really just want to start reading, but I just want to say that I've really enjoyed all your stories. You're a great writer, and I hope to be back on your AP again in the future when you have a new story up. Anyway. Let's start reading.
Ahh. So it was blood they found. I'm glad it wasn't human blood. I was worried about that because the story summary does mention someone dying, and I just wasn't prepared for that yet. Mostly because I don't know who'll die, and I love all the characters so far so I don't know if I could handle seeing anyone die. But anyway. Why on earth would anyone put dragon's blood out like that? It sounds like a really stupid and dangerous prank, and I just don't see what the point is. Hm. I'll have to think a little bit more about that.
Draco would be the obvious suspect of course, but as I said in my last review, I don't think it's him. His reaction to Hermione accusing him just makes me think this even more. I still feel like what he's actually trying to do is warn them, but because Hermione doesn't trust him, he never gets a chance to actually say it. I'm not sure who could've done it though. I'm just hoping it's none of the Slytherins, because I like them and I want them to be good. Nah, idk. I got no clue who could've done it or why.
Anyway. Amazing job, once again! I really liked the story and I think you did a great job with the characters! I also found the story to be really intriguing. The summary does give you a lot of clues about what's gonna happen, but at the same time you don't know how it'll happen so it's still really exciting. I don't know if you're gonna continue to write this, but if you do end up writing more chapters, definitely let me know because I'd love to read more.
So again, great job! I really liked it! Thanks for sharing!
Hi again, Emily!
So I'm at fifth chapter now. Only one more to go. I'm not sure how to feel about that tbh. I'm really starting to love this story, so I'm honestly a little bit sad about it. But I think I'm gonna like the last two chapters, so I'm just gonna focus on that part instead. Anyway. Let's start reading.
So first of all, I forgot to say this in the last chapter, but one thing I really like about Hermione's new friendship with the Slytherins, other than the fact that it challenges her views on the house and its members, is that I think it's really gonna help her view Draco differently too. She's now seen that Slytherin isn't a house that's only filled with evil people, and she's seen that just because you're a child of death eaters doesn't mean you have to be evil yourself. I'm thinking maybe this can help her see Draco differently too, since he too is a Slytherin and the child of a death eater. So yeah, that's another thing I like about her friendship with the Slytherins.
And omg. Hermione I love you, but could you please let Draco talk :P I really want to know what he keeps trying to talk to you about. But I mean it would be very strange if she wasn't distrusting of him, especially when she doesn't even have a wand on her. He hasn't exactly been nice to her in the past, so it's natural for her to expect the worst, but yeah, I really wish she would let him talk so I could find out what he wants to say :P It definitely sounds like he's threatening her, but I think maybe it's more of a warning? Like he knows something bad is about to happen and he keeps trying to warn her, but she won't listen because she's scared of him and because he hasn't exactly been nice to her in the past? Idk. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I really want to Draco to be a better person. Hm. I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out that too.
And that ending! You can't just end a chapter like that! What happened?! What did Sam see?! I want to know so bad! Thank god I can just head over to next chapter to find out, which I'm gonna do right now because I really want to know. See you there, Emily!
So I'm back again for chapter 4. I notice it's called "Slytherins", which has me curious about it. It could mean something terrible is gonna happen, what with some of the Slytherins because into the whole pureblood supremacy crap, or it could mean something good's gonna happen, since Theo appears to be a nice guy. Hm. I guess I'll just have to read to find out.
So it looks like it's the second one - something good happened. I like Garrett, Sam and Theo. They all seem great, and I like that they don't treat Hermione horribly even though she is a muggleborn. With the families that I'm sure at least some of them have been born into, they could've easily hated her for having non-magical parents, so I'm excited to see them accepting her so easily. And I like that you're showing us some nice Slytherins too. Of course things can change, but I'm still hoping they'll end up being somewhat good guys.
I also liked the discovery that Theo's parents are death eaters. I think it really shows the situation that many of the Slytherins at Hogwarts are in. They might not even necessarily agree with what the death eaters are fighting for, but they'll join them anyway because it's what's expected of them. And also, it's basically what everyone around them expects of them too. And I think in a way Hermione sees that, and that's why she's trying to save him. She knows he isn't all bad - that there's good in him and that he can be saved. I hope she succeeds of course, but I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out.
Once again, amazing job! I really liked it! Thanks for sharing! See you in the next chapter!
Hey again, Emily!
So I just realized I'm half-way into the story now. That's exciting! But anyway. I'm not gonna ramble on too much this time. Since I really just want to read, I'm just gonna go right to the reading part and skip my intro.
Omg. I like this chapter! And Theodore Nott sounds like good guy. I like that he's a Slytherin that's not into the whole Death Eater, pureblood supremacy crap, or at least it doesn't sound like he is, but you never know I guess. He sounds like one of the good guys, which I'm happy about because it allows us to see a Slytherin that isn't bad. Or at least not right now. Yeah, I actually like him, which I didn't think I would. I think maybe he and Hermione will end up being friends in the end, or at least I hope so. They seem like a good team too, so yeah, I really like them. And their dialogue was good too. Great job!
I'm curious about Draco though. Why was he waiting for Hermione? I mean I know Hermione is a stickler for rules so it would be strange if she didn't tell him to go this dorm, but I sort of wish she hadn't, just so we could hear what Draco wanted with Hermione. I don't think he's up to anything, or at least nothing that's bad, but I guess I'll just have to wait and see about that. I don't know what he could want with Hermione though. Hm. Yeah, I don't have a clue. I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out.
Amazing job, Emily! I'm gonna head right over to the next chapter to try and find out what's going on with Draco!
So I'm back for chapter 2, and I have to say I'm really excited to see how Draco Malfoy will act after everything that happened in the Astronomy tower. Anyway, let's just get right to the reading part.
Interesting. I definitely see what Hermione is talking about. Draco still acts like he's done in the past, but something's definitely off. I almost want to say that he's just acting that way to protect himself, because everyone thinks he killed or at least tried to kill Dumbledore. With that sort of reputation, he's not gonna be very well liked by anyone really. The pureblood kids will see him as a failure for not having killed Dumbledore and the other students will look at him as dangerous because he did try to kill Dumbledore. In a situation like that I suppose it would be easier to act like a bully, because then you can tell yourself that at least people stay away from you because you want them to, not because they hate you or are scared of you. Idk. Does that make any sense or was that very confusing? :P
I also liked the Hermione and Draco scenes. It's very early in the story of course, but I feel like I can already see why the of two them will end up together. While she does seem to be a little bit scared of him too, she's the sort of person that talk back to him, which I think he needs. And also, she's very observant, being the only one that sees that something's off with Draco. Yeah, I can definitely see why they'd end up together, and I'm excited to see that happen.
Anyway. Amazing job, again! I still like the story! And I'll see you in the next chapter!
So I've come to the last story on your AP, which is one I'm actually very excited about even though it is a Dramione and I'm not the biggest Dramione fan. You see I've heard very good things about this story, so now I'm very excited to finally check it out. Anyway. I'm gonna stop talking now and start reading.
So first of all. I apologize for my reviews being a little shorter on this story. I want to make sure that all of these reviews are up today and I don't have too much time because I have to head out soon. So yeah, I'll try to get my thoughts across in maybe one or two paragraphs instead of like eight :P
I like this first chapter. You did a great job of introducing us to the main characters and to the changes that you've made from Deathly Hallows. We obviously know Draco, Ron, Harry and Hermione from the books, but your version of them was great and definitely sounded like the characters we know and love from the books. I also like the changes you've made from the books. Many authors would just completely overlook the horcrux hunt and come up with some sort of reason for why they didn't have to do that, but you just postpone it which I think worked really well. So yeah, I liked that!
The introduction to the head students were also interesting. I've seen some head student Dramione stories before, so I was imagining that Draco would be the other head student and they'd have to share a dormitory and then they'd fall in love and so on, so you really surprised me when you made Theodore Nott the other head student. It was a good surprise though, and I'm excited to see his role in this story. And how Draco is too. After what happened at the Astronomy tower, you'd imagine he's changed a little bit, so I'm excited to see how he's gonna be like in this story.
Amazing job, Emily! I really liked it! See you in the next chapter :)
Oooh. I'm not sure what I think of Theo trying to stop Hermione from seeing that. It works for his character - it's just something I find so, so frustrating.
Like... what even, dude. "No, Hermione, don't look at pools of blood on the floor while I'm still deciding whether hunting your kind because Family Connections is really the right choice for me." Come on. Hermione is 1) a very capable witch who saw way scarier shit than some blood by the time she turned thirteen than you have ever seen, and 2) YOUR FATHER would probably be totally fine to torture or kill her because Dirty Blood. So, like, please stop with the patronizing "must defend delicate sensibilities" nonsense.
That's not a criticism of you, though, to be clear. That kind of cognitive dissonance is so, so common - in some ways, Theo's not understanding how point A leads to point B is a little like Draco in books 1-5, except with a less gross and abrasive baseline. Theo's "McGonagall will know what to do" is just extra punctuation that he just doesn't understand the way the world works in some fundamental ways. If Hermione, Harry, and Ron had always listened to McGonagall, Voldemort would have come back at the end of PS.
(Did I say this last time, too? THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME SOMETIMES AMIRITE.)
Anyway, rant aside:
I can see why Hermione would find those characteristics attractive, though, at least at first. She's in such a vulnerable situation right now, and not only is he looking out for her - though he is! - he's also kind of a tie to normalcy. Hogwarts hasn't always been safe for her, but it has rules, and danger really only arises when the rules aren't respected. Theo does respect the rules, and he's also set apart from the danger of the 'we-must-take-down-Voldemort' mission. I get why that appeals to her. You've also written their chemistry as really, really believable, so while I want to yell at her that Theo is not the right guy for her, it's so so easy for me to believe that she thinks he is.
Amazing job. <3
I really like the way you're introducing the not-terrible-people Slytherins bit by bit. You're hitting a nice balance between maintaining the overarching flow of the plot (especially since the end game is Dramione) and giving each of the OCs distinct personalities (and I'm including Theo in that, since we know very little about him from canon). I really do feel like I'm getting to know them each through the interactions you're choosing to show, and it feels so natural.
I also really love her concern over Harry and Ron's possible reactions. It makes so, so much sense - Harry and Ron are very far from Slytherin sympathizers, and she obviously really wants their approval. You communicated that while also emphasizing that the friendship really is a give-and-take - despite their skepticism, Harry and Ron really aren't that hard to talk into at least giving it a shot, even though in this case, I think it would've been understandable.
Draco really, really amuses me in this chapter. He's so clearly so, so disliked, and while I think that part of his continuing to seek out people he knows don't like him is self-destructiveness, I also think that part of it is trying to show them that he doesn't care what they think. Otherwise, he would have just passed that message onto Hermione the night before. It makes him really hard to puzzle out, but I think that that works - why he's back at Hogwarts is a bit of a mystery to everyone, including Hermione, so it makes sense that it's a mystery to the reader, too!
My only CC is that I feel like you occasionally treat specific dynamics created by the war in a way that's a little cursory. It's not really a problem in terms of the overarching narrative - it's more that there are little details around the edges that don't quite make sense to me. The things that stuck out most to me were Hermione references Theo as becoming one of her "best friends" (considering the life-or-death situations she's been in with Harry, Ron, etc), her wandering around the school without a wand just a few months after Death Eaters invaded, and Theo and Harry both insisting that Draco has no power at the school (ditto Death Eaters). I just feel like you could have softened the statements a little - for example, you could have just said that she was surprised by how comfortable she felt with Theo, or Theo and Harry could have said that he was too worried about his own skin to attack her. Those are minor things overall, but I did want to note them, because they stuck out to me.
Overall, though, solid job! <3
Hello again, dear!
I'm so glad you like the Slytherins. Looking back on it, I feel like I tried to tackle too many at once, to be honest. It's always good to hear that they sort of work with the story.
I do love my dramatic little Draco here, haha. He's such a jerk and he's so combative. It's so fun to write for him while he's struggling so much to still be relevant and influential in a school that's no longer under his thumb.
And thank you so much for that CC! As always, you're exactly right and I'll fix that ASAP.
Aww, only one more chapter for the moment. :(
Omg, the widening-and-then-narrowing of the eyes - I know exactly what you mean there, and it's 1000% the best response to Draco Malfoy, especially in this kind of situation.
I like that Hermione says that she didn't put Draco in detention because - well, she was a little afraid. I get that and think it makes a lot of sense, but as importantly, it's really, really important for Theo to understand what the core of the situation is. He's got an enormous amount of privilege and a huge blind spot here, and I think he's genuinely surprised that Draco would threaten Hermione - who is a Muggleborn! Like, it's nice that Theo is pissed off (whether it's for the sake of Hermione-the-person, Hermione-the-Head-Girl, or just disliking-Draco-Malfoy remains to be seen, though it's probably a little of all three), but also, Theo! Your father is a Death Eater! What do you think your father and his friends do to Muggleborns? He says it so plainly, too, and he clearly doesn't even understand the significance of what he's saying to Hermione - who, again, is a Muggleborn! Like, he teases her after basically telling her that his father would torture/murder her parents for fun!
Ughhhh so many blind spots, so little time. (That's not a criticism of you, though - I think that those kinds of blind spots are depressingly common.)
I like that Hermione's emphasis really is on saving him, because it would strain credulity if she was forgiving some pretty awful views on his part just because her cat liked him - but you don't have her do that. She sees little things like his interactions with Crookshanks as a sign that there's good in there, and stopping someone from becoming a Death Eater could do a lot of good - both for him and for the other people he might have hurt.
I really enjoy her interaction with Theo's friends - and the dynamic between Theo's friends and Theo himself. They really, really don't like Draco at all, and the way they talk about it is so natural and definitely alludes to a lot of previous conversations that Hermione (obviously) wasn't witness to. It's so well done, and it fleshes out a lot of your backstory very, very nicely.
My only crit is that I'm (again) a little surprised that Hermione didn't even recognize someone she presumably has some lessons with every year, but that's really minor. This was a really great chapter!
Oh Draco, you grumpy little man. Branwen sees right through you.
And exactly about Theo's privilege. He has a completely different experience of Draco than Hermione does, and it's foreign to him that she's actually afraid of Death Eaters and the people he's grown up around. Hermione wants to make him understand that eventually, but right now she settles for being honest about her experience.
I like that you like the Slytherins! They have a history that we don't even see in this novel, but I know all about obviously, haha. Maybe I'll write their story someday too.
Thank you again!
Hello again! <3
I really, really like what you've done here. Dedicating this chapter largely (but not exclusively) to Hermione and Theo really helps to ground the opening part of the story - their relationship is a complex one, and it's good to clarify that he doesn't actually hate her (which definitely seemed like a possibility in C1/C2, especially since we all know who his father is). I also really like that he seems to hate Draco for interpersonal reasons rather than moral ones. They both dislike him and can bond over it now, but they dislike him for different reasons, and that does circle back around later. That's a really, really nice touch.
I also love how you really do manage to simultaneously make Hermione and Theo's interactions all about them while also keeping them... well, pretty focused on Draco, even though he doesn't show up until the end. He's an elephant in the room that neither of them really has the information yet to see, and it's really interesting to go through the story again knowing that a lot of the things jumping out at me are very relevant to how all of these relationships will eventually develop. (And also: you show Draco's conflicted feelings in a really awesome way. I kind of feel like he's trying to get all of the interactions he has back to normal, and keeps forgetting that the vague threats he's always been prone to actually have teeth now.)
A little CC:
I wish that both Hermione and Theodore had a little more familiarity with the people the other is talking about. Not talk to the other's friends makes sense, since they're in different houses and run in different circles, but it's a little weird that they've never even met other people in their (small) year in the past six years they've been at Hogwarts, to the extent that they need to use last names. Maybe you're making the classes at Hogwarts a little bigger (which is totally valid!), but even so - never? The discussion about their friends feels a bit clunky, and I think that this is definitely part of that. It's not a huge deal - I just want to mention it. <3
Overall, though, this was another excellent chapter!
Thank you so much for this review. I'm so glad Theo's relationship with Draco is coming through. Living alongside him for six years definitely gave him a different experience with Draco than Hermione has, but you're definitely right that they both hate our resident ferret. ;)
And ahhh, I love that you notice where Draco is at in his life. I love, love, love that that's coming through. It means so much to me as a writer.
Thank you for the CC! I did think of the classes as somewhat bigger when writing this, and I imagined that there wouldn't be much house-interaction between Gryffindors and Slytherins. For example, I imagine that Hermione and Theo have never really had a conversation. Similar to how I think she never would have really talked to Pansy or Millicent. They recognize the names and faces, but they don't have any sort of relationship. I'll try to make that clearer.
You're wonderful! Thank you!
I'm back! <3
Yeah, I feel like Draco's trying to have it several ways all at once here, which I really like - I think it fits both with where you're taking his character in this fic and with Draco as we saw him in HBP and DH. First he's pointing out that he didn't kill Dumbledore... but then, in the very next section (!), he's basically getting pissed off at Harry for saying that he wouldn't have. He's trying to have it both ways, and Hermione's 100% right when she says that he's volatile. That's a really good way to put it. Along similar lines, I think it says a lot that while he calls her a Mudblood and is generally unfriendly, he doesn't call what really is a bit of a bluff when she threatens to put him in detention - it's a subtle touch, but it's a good one.
I really like Hermione's reaction to him, too. In the train car, she's able to play the role of the calm Head Girl who has the situation under control, but when she's alone with him in the carriage, her demeanor changes a little, and she's overtly afraid. That makes so, so much sense - Draco is a Death Eater who calls her names and actively menaces her with his wand. The way she falls back on threats of detention makes sense, because that's where her authority comes from - and I love how she definitely notices, even through her fear, that it really is just a facade.
I loved the Sorting. The song was perfect, and I really liked that you didn't just recycle surnames that we know from the books - it's a small touch, but a really nice one. I also enjoyed the difference in attitude we see in Neville and Seamus in particular - we only see them before the final battle, and I think it's easy to forget that the defiance and anger they showed at the end of DH was what was left after a year of abuse and terror. It probably wouldn't have been the case at the beginning of the year, especially if the Death Eaters hadn't taken over the school.
I think that if you lost some of the dialogue tags and adverbs, the narrative would flow a little more smoothly. It's okay to have some dialogue on its own or to just describe the actions. For example: "The hostility in here is overwhelming," Draco said sarcastically. "It almost makes me feel like I'm unwelcome." -> We know it's Draco speaking, and we know he's being sarcastic - I think that this would work better if you took out "Draco said sarcastically." Another example: "You wouldn't have done it," Harry finally said, taking a step back. "You wouldn't have killed him." -> You could strip out the dialogue tag here, to just be "You wouldn't have done it." Harry finally took a step back. "You wouldn't have killed him."
I'd also have liked to see you dig a little deeper when it comes to Harry and Ron's feelings about Theodore. They seem sympathetic about Hermione's well-being, but not concerned, despite Theodore's father being a Death Eater. It would've been nice to see some acknowledgement of that, even if it was something like mentioning to use the DA coin if she needed help.
Those are both pretty minor, though, and overall, I really enjoyed this - great job! <3
I love that you're noticing Draco's struggles here. He definitely wants to still be "on top" at school, but after all he's been through in the last year...can he really just fall back into that? He wants to, but it doesn't work that way. Hence, his struggle between being introspective and trying to keep the same face up as before. Hermione knows he's bluffing. He likely knows she is too. But they aren't in a place to call each other on it. I like that.
Your CC is perfect! Thank you so much for it. I'll go incorporate that ASAP.
Thank you again for being so attentive to the details here and giving me the best possible feedback. You're the best.
Hey, Emily! <3 I'm here at long last to read over the edited Collateral! (Yay, winter wonderland giving me an excuse! :P)
A note on these reviews - I read Rule Breaker a long time ago, and rather than dissect the differences between this and the version posted on HPFF, I'm just going look at this from the perspective of someone finding the story for the first time.
I'm psyched to get started!
I really, really like the way you start the story here. You provide the relevant information is a really graceful way, and I especially love the way you introduce Hermione being Head Girl in particular - there's something really fitting about how the introduction to her new position being that she was helping others - it fits both with who she is as a person in general and what you build up in this fic - Hermione is someone who ultimately prefers to work within the system. It's similar to the way she's on board with doing the Head Common Room thing, to the extent that she doesn't even whine about it with her friends.
The way you handle her proper introduction to Theo was also really solid - there wasn't really animosity so much as apathy, and in some ways, I feel like Hermione might have found animosity easier - and more familiar! - to grapple with. I don't blame her for cutting to the chase when he's not willing to even make the most basic attempts at being polite and friendly, and his defensiveness when she asks about Draco really makes me roll my eyes. Dude, you're a Slytherin, and you're being a jerk. You don't have the moral high ground right now! :P
And as somebody who's written a frightening amount of Draco Malfoy in the past couple month and who likes snark, I really, really loved Draco's introduction - it was a really nice way to handle the information that he was, indeed, coming back to school. That's true in terms of just the overarching narrative and in terms of raising the question of why Draco was seeking them out at all - that Draco is instigating some level of confrontation (and returning to Hogwarts at all) raises a lot of questions about his feelings about what happened and what facade he wants to put on. Is he trying to reclaim a sense of normalcy? Being a little self-destructive? Showing them that he's not afraid? All three? It's really unclear, and I like that a lot.
A couple small points of crit/other thoughts:
- I love the way you address the crush on Ron just fizzling out - it's realistic and low drama, which is good. However, <i>They had always assumed that they were "supposed" to be together—what girl-boy friendship didn't end that way?</i> seemed a little odd - there's not really any hint in the books that they assumed they'd end up together, and more importantly, it raises the question of why the opposite sex friendship between Hermione and Harry doesn't apply to that as well. I'd have preferred either just cutting that line completely (i.e., <i>... he felt the same. When it came down to it...</i>) or referencing the events of HBP as triggering the realization - e.g., Dumbledore's death/the continuing chaos/whatever put her feelings in perspective. Idk if that makes sense - tell me if it doesn't. :P
- I like the way Hermione is sure that returning to Hogwarts is a good idea, and Harry had to be convinced. I don't recall whether that ended up being a source of tension in Rule Breaker, but if not, I think that could be a really interesting dynamic to add in - not as a major plot point, but as one that comes up from time to time. I think I remember commenting a couple times that it was weird to me that Hermione was staying behind, and that could be something that justifies it on at least a couple occasions - an argument or two about whether they could be doing more out there.
- I also do wish that Hermione had known Theodore Nott by sight; the questions make sense to me, but after six years of classes together, I'd have thought that she'd at least know his name.
Overall, now that it's a couple years down the line, I still enjoy this fic a lot. I definitely think that the writing has gotten stronger - you're doing a great job, and you are definitely way too hard on yourself. <3
My darling! I am so sorry for how long it's taken me to reply to your reviews. But here I am, and I promise to get through these responses quickly now. :)
So, first of all: thank you so much for re-reviewing all of these chapters as I rewrite/edit them. You're so sweet. I'm so glad you still like this opening chapter. I feel that reworking it somewhat helped a lot. And, of course, I've been rewriting them while constantly referencing your original reviews. So I'll also edit them to answer some of the questions/concerns you have in this set of reviews (but that will be far in the future, I promise--I have to repost them all here first!).
I'm so glad you're happy with Theo and Draco's introductions. I was sure I didn't want to change those at least. I do happen to love this intro for Draco.
And I completely agree with your comments about the line about Ron/Hermione and the need for her to recognize Theo on site and the thing about tension from Harry not necessarily wanting to be back at Hogwarts. All of that is perfect and is going into this chapter and the story as a whole.
You're wonderful and I appreciate you so much.
Another lovely chapter! I love meeting the "new" Slytherins and Garrett Crush sounds very... crush worthy. Yes I know I'm the absolute worst for that pun but I'm sure you were expecting someone else to point it out. Seriously though, he seems like a great guy and I'm loving getting to know him and Theo more. Also I enjoyed meeting Sam at the end of the chapter, though I don't feel like there was enough of an interaction with her to really get a feel for how her character will be.
I felt like while the paragraphs in this chapter weren't particularly long or much variation, it did seem to flow really well. It seemed like no time at all when I got down to this review box and I'm rather sad that I don't have any more chapters to keep reading along.
Again, your characterization seems to be rather spot on with Ron sleeping in and not at all being ready for classes to start, to Hermione beind excited about them starting. Theo is of course still an interesting character for me and I'm interested to see just how Hermione is planning to try and convince him that a Death Eaters life is not the one for him. I think that their friendship will be a nice touch however it may possibly come between Hermione and her current friends. After all, Ron isn't really know to be the most level-headed about things.
Draco is again doing mysterious things in this chapter. Being out early in the morning coming back from the greenhouses. What exactly could he be up to that he needed to be there in the morning? Collecting ingredients for a potion perhaps? Or was he not actually at the greenhouses but maybe the Forbidden Forest? Or am I still yet wrong and he was not up to anything suspisious at all? You've left me with still more questions and yet no answers to his behavior and I can't wait to begin learning more about what he is actually up to.
I look forward to reading more of this story in the future. Great job!
Again, thank you so much for reviewing! You're so sweet, and these reviews make me smile so much. I'm really glad you like Garrett, and I hope you'll like Sam and the other Slytherins as they're introduced. I don't often work with many OCs, so this was a departure for me, delving into some original characters. I hope they mesh well with the canon ones we know and love!
Draco is quite sneaky, isn't he? And he really is up to something suspicious. I wonder when we'll find out just what that is... ;)
Thank you again!
Oh a very interesting chapter, a very interesting chapter indeed. Things are really coming to life and I'm rather excited about where this story is going to go. The beginning of the chapter had more of that description and variation in the paragraphs and sentences that I've been looking for so I was really excited to see that. And it really did make the story a lot more smooth and easy to read.
I loved the easy flowing interaction between Theodore and Hermione in this chapter. It was nice to see that he was a little standoffish in the beginning but then quickly turned his ways and realized that it might be best to just satisfy Hermione's curiousity. But I loved how they started out by just being in the common room together, Hermione reading a book and Theodore writing on parchment paper. It added a layer to Theo's character and was nice to see him as more of an introverted and maybe slightly artistic guy.
The small details really stood out in this chapter to me and really made me understand the characters and get a better feel for the story. The small touch of McGonagall pausing when mentioning Dumbledore and being slightly chocked up by it was a great touch. I also really enjoyed the bit with Filtch and him and Peeves having a sort of understanding for the one night but yet it was also easy for him to believe that Peeves would go back on that understanding and I thought that was really true to both characters.
The ending was great with the small interaction with Draco and Hermione. I like that the interactions right now are rather short and they continue to leave me with questions. Especially this last interaction. He was acting so mysterious like he both wanted Hermione to know what was going on but also didn't want to let her know about it at the same time. I mean he did mention that she wouldn't know the real reason at least not yet but I really want to know why he was wondering the corridors and also waiting for her to show up. How did he know that she was going to be out of the common room if he didn't break the vase. Also how did he know where to be for her to find him? After all the common room is brand new so it's not like they would have previous years to go off of.
Anyways this was another great chapter and I'm really enjoying this story. I can't wait to read the next chapter. Great job.
Hi again, dear!
I'm glad you liked the writing in this chapter! Having been written so long ago and edited so many times, there's definitely variance in the quality of the chapters sometimes. Hopefully I even that out someday! But I'm glad the plot is capturing you (especially since one of the genres here is "mystery"!) and that the characters are engaging. I can't wait to read your other reviews!
I think this chapter is setting up your story rather nicely. Your characters all seem to be spot on which is great. I love that Harry is still very much Harry and that he still doesn't like Draco even though he was unable to kill Dumbledore. Of course it is a bit odd that Draco wasn't really into his converstaion with Hermione and didn't seem to have the same bite that he used to. Maybe he is changing? I love that Hermione is also growing strong against his usual remark of her being a mudblood. It often happens that when one person uses the same insult over and over it loses the sting that it once had. Of course if someone else says it, it doesn't mean that it wont affect her just that his hold over her has lessened.
I would have liked to see some more description in this chapter as well. It would help to really ground the reader in the story and make us feel like we are actually there. Near the beginning of the chapter Hermione is woken up by Ron, and it would have been great to see more details about this being added in to the section following. I thought it was a great touch to have her words all slurred together when she originally woke up but to continue with that theme even mentioning the loud noises when exiting the train were giving her a headache, or yawning or stretching when getting up from her seat could have added to the moment.
The sorting hat was wonderful! I always admire when people are able to get a good sorting hat song in as I find that I'm absolutely horrible at trying to write one out and make it fit into the story. Seriously great job on that! I also love that you've addressed the new teachers who are taking over McGonagall's empty post as well as Snape's. I'm really interested to see what these new teachers will be like and if I can trust them or not (which is strange to say of a teacher :P).
I look forward to reading more of the story and finding out what exactly is going on with Draco. Also I'm excited that the next chapter should finally reveal the Head Common Room and also maybe some more interaction between Hermione and Theodore. I'm really excited to see what their relationship might end up like. Will they become friends and work together? Will they begin to have romantic feelings for the other? I'm really curious to see where you will bring this story. Great job.
Author's Response: Hi Erica dear! Thank you so much for this review! You always take the time to go so in-depth with your comments, and I appreciate them so much! I do love the set up for this novel. Seeing the characters in a different light is important for this story, but they are still our canon protagonists, so it’s a real balance to strike. Thank you again’ Best, Emily
So it's no surprise that Dramione is my OTP and when I came across this story I knew that I had to start reading it right away. I love when people attempt to do something original with the pairing rather than continue with the cliches. I was a little concerned at first with when it mentioned the Head Boy and Girl sharing a dormitory as that is definitely a tried and true cliche with this pairing however I love that you turned it on it's head and instead decided to make Theodore Nott as the new Head Boy. It was a great surprise and not one that I expected at all.
The ending was perfect with Malfoy making his appearance it really pulled me into the story and makes me want to continue reading so I know what happens next. Is he going to be a right old meany or will we maybe see a more mature side to him? And what is it with him and Theodore? They both don't seem to really care for the other which is something I have not seen. Typically the Slytherins are all about sticking together and are all usually shown as being friends as they don't have friends outside of Slytherin.
If I had to say one thing that I think could maybe improve the story, it would be to add a bit more description or varying the length of paragraphs. It seems like at times there are a lot of short paragraphs and sentences in a row which really break up the flow of the story and make it seem choppier. The section you wrote on her recieving her Head Girl letter is great. Here you really see the paragraphs begin to expand and description really gets going and that is the part of the story that really pulled me in more and I felt like you hit a stride there.
That being said, I did think that this was a good beginning to your story. The end really intrigued me and has made me want to continue reading the story to find out more about Malfoy and Theodore. I really look forward to seeing more interactions between Hermione and Draco, and I must say I have really enjoyed the interactions between the friends so far. They seem pretty true to themselves which is really great to see.
I'm so sorry for the delay in responding to this review! So, first off: thank you so much for writing it, and thank you for your patience! I'm so glad that you liked this first chapter.
The Heads Dorm trope was so fun to work with for this story! I think the original challenge this novel was written for asked participants to "de-cliche" some Dramione tropes, so I think that's why that plot point was added. But I admit that I wrote this chapter so many years ago that I don't fully remember. Hopefully by the end of the novel, I'd eliminated the worst parts of that cliche!
Thank you so much for the advice about longer paragraphs and more description. As I edit the rest of this novel to prepare it for posting, I'll definitely keep that in mind.
Hi Emily! Here for round 2 of the CR review exchange. I am finally here to check out your novel! I admit Dramione is not my go-to ship, but I've been convinced by some good Dramiones every now and then so I have high confidence that you'll sway me because I know you're a great writer ;)
First things first: Thank you for not making Ron into a jerk as a way to separate him from Hermione. The way you wrote it is so much better. While I adore Ron/Hermione, I also understand that it's possible and in fact very likely for people to not end up with their high school crush (despite Hogwarts students' track record for this in the books XD). So the idea that they had a thing that just kind of ended over the summer, seems pretty realistic and I can be okay with that.
Pinned to the bottom of it was a galleon-sized badge with the letters HG debossed on its shining surface. -- Does it stand for Head Girl or Hermione Granger? :P Hahahaha, with those initials there was no way anyone else could be head girl.
However, given that this story takes place at the beginning of their seventh year and replaces DH, I admit I'm a bit surprised about Hermione's appointment as head girl, since this story takes place at the height of when Muggle-borns were being targeted, so I'm surprised she's even back at school. Unless you've written the Carrows out too, and the war hasn't yet reached the point it had by the very beginning of DH? Is Hogwarts still somewhat of a safe place in this AU? I'm really curious to see what you've changed, aside from just Harry and co. deciding to return to Hogwarts. Like, you've opened a whole Pandora's box of what-ifs and I can't wait. :D
Ok I also admit I giggled when I saw that you'd gone for the Head Boy and Head Girl Share A Dorm trope, but I love the twist on it. Of course it's not going to be Malfoy, after everything he did last year. Instead it's Theodore Nott, who is possibly the complete opposite of Hermione in that he doesn't care about being Head Boy and seems almost lazy about it? (though this is from Hermione's POV so in that respect just about anyone would look lazy :P ) Anyway, I'm really interested in this whole dynamic.
I get the impression you've spent a long time in Hermione's head because you write her perfectly. Her peace at reading a book in the garden with the smell of the cut grass, and her annoyance with Theodore Nott's lack of enthusiasm, just everything. It's great.
This is a wonderful introductory chapter! I love the way you've set it up and I'm intrigued about the state of the war in magical Britain in this version of events. I'll have to keep reading for sure. Great work!
I am so sorry it's taken me so long to reply to your wonderful review! First of all: thank you so much for taking the time to read this and write such a wonderful summation of your thoughts. I'm so glad that you liked it. This is a very different beginning than the canon-DH for sure. Things haven't yet escalated like they did in canon, so it's a strange in-between that the trio returns to at the beginning of Collateral.
The Heads Dorm trope was so fun to work with for this story! I think the original challenge this novel was written for asked participants to "de-cliche" some Dramione tropes, so I think that's why that plot point was added. But I admit that I wrote this chapter so many years ago that I don't fully remember!
I'm really happy that you like my Hermione! I have absolutely spent a lot of time in her head, so I'm glad that comes across.
Thank you again for all your wonderful comments! I appreciate them so much, and again: I'm sorry for the delay in responding here.