I read this for the FROGS and came back to review for the House Cup.
As I finished reading this, my thought was. . . . but JKR wrote a children’s story! However, I think you’ve definitely given us a full image of what she could only hint at-the horrors under Headmaster Snape.
I love Astoria. Here’s a girl that was brought up a satin pillow, but her rose colored glasses were long ago thrown off. She’s sees everything exactly for what it is and has chosen to walk a very fine line between dark and light. You portray her as very brave and no nonsense but knows how to manipulate the situation when the need arises--she’ll be the perfect wife for Draco some day.
I love how she handles Goyle. I question if he actually had the magical ability to pull of avada kedavra, but why take chances. She is the perfect example of if you act like you know what you are doing then people think you do know what you are doing.
The last scene was very disturbing. I kept thinking how is Astoria going to get out of this one. She will. She’s clever, she’s a Slytherin, she’ll figure it out. . . . but I guess that’s the theme of the 5 plus 1.
Excellent story of the 7th year. I would hope it is darker than what really happened, but I think your story is probably more true than most would want to admit.
Hey Eva! Here for our swap! :D Thanks for your patience.
This is a stunningly beautiful piece. The world at Hogwarts you've created is intricately written and absolutely terrifying. The reign of the Carrows is truly abhorrent, and you portray this horror so well in every life that Astoria saves.
Unforgivables: I love how you explore the gravity of all of the Unforgivable Curses throughout the story. From Goyle's jumpy Killing Curse to Pansy's sickening Cruciatus Curse to Astoria's terriying Imperius Curse, you capture the grit and the horror unapologetically. In this story, the Killing Curse seems to be the one that you should be least afraid of, since both times, they are shot in the wrong directions. However, the painful and the loss of control, we see the brunt of what happens, and we cannot escape the terror for as long as Astoria witnesses it. Well done with this theme.
The lives Astoria saves... I love how the stakes get higher every single time Astoria saves a life. If I thought that having someone aim the Killing Curse away from an actual life was challenging enough, I was wrong. Astoria manipulates the circumstances around her every time, showcasing just how incredible the Slytherin traits are (as you may have figured, I love me a well written Slytherin). I am in awe to see how quickly Astoria thinks on her feet as she pushes herself farther and farther every time, until that fifth life, where isn't stuck between the impossible and the unthinkable. I appreciate how you show Ginny wanting to take another route in this situation, too, because I don't think not everyone could have done she Astoria has done. Astoria shows such strength and determination throughout the entire story, and I am in awe of such a brave young woman.
I love the Astoria that you've written, and the Second Wizarding War Hogwarts you've created, and the lives that you've--through Astoria--saved. This is such a powerful story, one that will stay with me for more time yet to come. Thank you for sharing.
Hello, here with a review for the Magical Menagerie!
I’ve been obsessed with the second DA era lately, and I was recommended this by Emma/facingthenorthwind and this obviously has won a lot of awards, so my expectations were super high going into this. And can I just say, it exceeded all of them by a lot. You just rewrote everything I thought I knew about Astoria and, really, this period of time.
First and foremost, the structure is excellent. Counting the lives she’s saved, it gives us a great idea of all of the ways she’s been forced to think on her feet to do the right thing.
You really set the tone of the story with Goyle just out and casting the Killing Curse whenever he gets a little startled. Clearly, things are pretty lawless around Hogwarts. Honestly, that seems like an awful idea regardless of what’s going on in the castle, since you can’t really take that one back if you’re mistaken. Astoria is awesome for risking everything to save the other students. She’s every bit as brave as the DA leaders and honestly, might be a bit more effective at times since she doesn’t get caught.
I’m not only impressed that Astoria manages to do wordless magic while saying other words altogether (i imagine that’s like trying to sing a song and read a book at the same time), but that she actually went through the trouble of faking Lavender’s death here. That could backfire REALLY badly if she ever gets caught again since she’s meant to have killed her and all. I’m not sure anyone could have expected that kind of bravery from her, even.
The Neville plan is genius too! It’s like she can always find an angle to approach these confrontations where no one gets badly hurt and she doesn’t get suspected even though its all right under their noses. This stuff seems like it must have been so difficult to plot, but you nailed all of it. I just love this section and now I want to see a bunch of Neville/Astoria interactions!
Well, Astoria took the heroics up a notch for the fourth life, huh? I mean, stepping into the Cruciatus Curse is a level of self sacrifice that honestly puts her as firmly on the side of good as anyone in the DA. After the war this girl deserves a medal or something. It’s absolutely harrowing to think that Pansy felt comfortable casting that curse right in front of the Charms classroom. Things have really gone to shambles in the castle. This is one of the most upsetting stories I’ve ever read (in the best way!) and I haven’t even addressed the fifth section. Which just. well.
I’ve never hated Amycus more than this, right here. I guess I have always tried to imagine that somehow this wouldn’t have happened, but as you’ve written it here it feels all too realistic. This kind of violence is difficult to read, but I have to commend you on how you’ve explored the real moral depths that these evil people would have stooped to and the way it would affect everyone involved. This just broke me and took my words away.
Surely one of the best stories I’ve read in years reading HP fic. This really deserves all of the awards it’s received and more. Such a rewarding read - thank you for writing!
Hi Eva! Here with the second of your prize reviews from my challenge!
(I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to get round to these - now that I have a break before I start back at university, I'm hoping I have more time for gems like this one!)
Well, I can easily see why this story has won so many awards. I don't know what I was expecting when I clicked open the chapter, but this really took me on such a rollercoaster of emotions, and it was so well written throughout.
Astoria Greengrass is one of my favourite characters, and we know so little about her that it's always fascinating to read different people's interpretations of her and especially find out what they see her doing during the war. We know she's from a pureblood family and is in Slytherin, but I think my favourite portrayals of her are in stories like this one, when she doesn't believe in the pureblood rhetoric and does her best to survive this horrendous year.
Her characterisation in this piece was fantastic. She's so, so brave - I don't think she'd believe that she is, but I will fight anyone who says otherwise - and she's clever and cunning about the way she goes about helping people who need it. I really liked the fact that there was a part of her which didn't seem entirely sure why she was doing it, and she didn't at all feel like she should be rewarded for what she was doing - it was a bare minimum, in a way, just doing whatever she could to stop some of the atrocities she was seeing. Her independence is so admirable, and really fits in with her character. It definitely allows her to get away with more than she would otherwise, but at the same time, it's her undoing, in a way.
The ending had such an impact because of that - I think she's been built up through the story and we see this incredibly brave, intelligent young witch finding ways to protect other people and make the best of an awful situation, and yet at the end she can't protect herself. She's so vulnerable there and it's heartbreaking to see that.
I really liked the way that you started this piece; you captured the darkness and heaviness that's hanging over the school brilliantly. Even Goyle is tense, and jumpy - the fact that his natural reaction is now to throw out the Killing Curse is terrifying, but it fits with what we see in canon. Astoria's impatience with him here said a lot about her character, at first the way she found him a nuisance, more than anything, and then she realised how much danger people were in and found a way to stop it.
The next time, with Lavender, was probably my favourite scene. The fact that Astoria had the guts to walk in and perform all those Healing Curses and get Lavender out of there was incredible to read. It also really emphasises the fact that the Carrows don't care at all about the children who are under their care - it's not an issue of whether people are resisting against them or whether they're adults, it's just that they enjoy the cruelty and torture to the degree that they wouldn't care if the children live or die.
Of course, that scene is also the first when Carrow calls her pet, which made me wonder if there was something else happening beneath the surface (I think for me the emphasis and Astoria's obvious repulsion at the endearment helped me - it's only a regional thing but I've lived in a region where "pet" is a really common term of endearment, so I think your emphasis there really helped).
The DA putting themselves in danger to protect the younger students is exactly what I'd expect them to do - and they know at this point exactly how much danger they're in, because there's already been so many people targetted and tortured, and they can't be in any doubt of what will happen to them if they're caught. Seeing the other Slytherin students happy to use the curses against their classmates - happy to see them in unspeakable pain, or to kill them, even - just because that's what gives them power in the school now... it's horrific. It's not unbelievable, at all, because if you look into the patterns of war throughout history you'll find exactly the same thing, but still. These are children. I think that really highlights the way that war distorts everything and brings out either the best or the worst in people.
Astoria was really clever to use Nott's relationship with her sister and the fact that they were "Muggle" fighting against them, to try and protect Neville and all the children; I liked the way that Neville was quick to catch on and play along, too, because he saw how she was trying to help them get to safety. I could definitely imagine there being conversations amongst members of the DA about how Astoria had helped protect them, or get them out of danger.
And then Pansy's horror at realising that she's cast the curse on Astoria, rather than Susan. It's so hypocritical and terrible - apologising because her "friend" - in other words, a pureblood, Slytherin witch - got in the way of the curse, but not seeing any issue with using it to torture people whose bodies have already fought against it. I think that scene in particular said a lot about the way that war draws lines, and for some people everything becomes so black and white so that they can't see the people - the humanity - in the shades in between.
The final scene... I know I've already mentioned it, but wow. I had an inkling that something different was going to happen in the last scene, partly because of your structure, the summary, and the hints that have been left with Carrow calling Astoria "pet", but I don't think I expected that.
I felt sick reading it, to be honest. I probably would have rather seen Astoria failing to save someone's life than see that happen to her and Ginny - perhaps, like with Ginny, that's my Gryffindor side coming out. It's not that you didn't write it incredibly well, or that it wasn't utterly believable (it definitely was - I mean we see, time and again, that women are traditionally victims of war and violence in different ways to men, and even in a war where both men and women have equal power in being able to cast spells, it doesn't surprise me that this kind of violence would still be perpetrated against women when men aren't necessarily victims to the same extent) - it's just that reading that scene made my skin crawl and my stomach turn, because it's so disgusting to see it happening and heartbreaking to read.
I wanted to shout at the screen, to reach through it and somehow put a physical barrier between the girls and Carrow - and then at the end, wrap them both up in a hug. There's a dreadful irony in the fact that Astoria has been stepping in to protect other people all year, and at the moment when it matters the most, there isn't anybody there to protect her. She's being attacked from the very side that she's supposed to be on, and it makes me sick.
I would have maybe liked to see a little more of Ginny's reaction to what had happened, and what she'd been made to do, in that final scene, but I thought that you captured both of their characters very well. Ginny would rather have died that feel so degraded, and Astoria hates herself for every second of what happens but is doing whatever she has to in order to survive, and in order to try and keep other people alive - whether or not they'd want her to in that situation. That final scene was very powerful, and truly heartbreaking, and I think you wrote it really well.
I can definitely understand why this has won awards for the Best Dark Fic category, and for Astoria Greengrass - you captured her character and the darkness at Hogwarts during this year brilliantly, and this was so well written. I'm not sure if enjoyed is really the right word, given the ending, but I'm glad I got the chance to read this.
okay so i had to read this. i love astoria greengrass for reasons i don't even know because we literally see her only at the end of the seventh book. but even by being draco's wife after everything makes her intriguing and i can't help but wonder about her :O
i love your characterisation of her - she's a slytherin through and through. very clever and cunning and thinks everyone else is an idiot. and she's wonderfully able to use that to her own advantage!
i'm also impressed by how she (well, you :P) uses ignorance of the carrows to help lavender. but even while she's helping her, she's also incredibly annoyed at having to save her which i found hilarious and made me incredibly fond of astoria. (this also applies when she's thinking of neville! hero complex hell yes. similar to harry and how his hero complex actually caused sirius to die which i'll never ever forgive)
also i love the way you named (or didn't name) voldy :P
ah. the whole scene with susan is currently my favourite - we see beneath the tough persona astoria displays to everyone, even herself. she's tough, she's all the things i already mentioned earlier but everyone who isn't a complete psychopath or a sociopath has a part of themselves that hurts. and she not only hurts, but she finally admits to herself, at least with her actions, that she's possibly as much of an idiot as everyone who she saves at least when it comes to doing stupid HEROIC things like taking the cruciatus curse for someone else. in this scene we see all the different layers that make up her personality.
the fifth life. i must say, i wasn't surprised by this. it was horrible and disgusting but i wasn't surprised. i'm not sure if it's because lately i've been reading&watching a lot of things that involve rape and how sometimes, it's better to go along with it (not really, but you know what i want to say, right?) than to refuse. during a war, rape is something that's inevitable. maybe growing up in a country where you could listen to women talk about what they had to endure to survive during the war in occupied places made me more understanding of astoria? i don't know. but if you want to be a hero who lives and has the chance of continuing to be heroic, you need to be smart. you need to be able to weigh your options. so ginny's comment is obviously understandable and somethins she would definitely say. but i also think that a part of her understands astoria and that she did what she had to in order for both of them to survive. it takes a very different type of courage to do what she did and endure, and i think it's even harder than just going out in a blaze of glory. she has to live with it, and probably battle her inner demons every day for as long as she lives. but she's able to live and that's something.
your writing is exceptional and even though this was dark i enjoyed reading it.
Right?? I feel the exact same way about Astoria. She's such an unknown character canon-wise, but that mystery and lack of concrete information about her allows for so much creative freedom, and I love that! I've read so many excellent Astoria fanfics throughout the years, and if you want some recommendations I can definitely give them!!
I'm so glad that I got confirmation of her Slytherin-ness from a Slytherin haha. Making her fit into Slytherin was maybe the hardest thing to write about this lmao, because my natural tendency is to drift towards Hufflepuffley characteristics (despite having written maybe only two Hufflepuffs (??) which is completely and utterly shameful).
Yes, haha, Astoria doesn't necessarily love the people that she saves. She does what needs to be done and then just dusts off her shoulders like it wasn't anything lmao. Hey hey hey, don't blame Harry for Sirius's death! The poor boy deserves a break and a sandwich and a hug. Astoria thinks the hero complex is ridiculous, but also if Neville didn't try going around saving the children they'd all be very not okay right now.
(I'm very glad that you appreciated that haha!)
Susan definitely brought out a more emotional response from Astoria, but also tactically, there's not much else she could've done. Diverting Pansy's attention elsewhere would have been far too obvious, and I suppose this is what happens when Astoria really, truly, genuinely respects the person that she's trying to save. I agree that this is a different layer to Astoria, after all the cold, level-headed type of thinking in the previous sections. (Also this is slightly unrelated but after I wrote this section and reread the story I was kinda like "huh is there something going on here," and then so many people reviewed this with so much support for the idea of an Astoria/Susan fic and I was like YES. So part of the reason why Astoria is like this towards Susan, it's been decided, is because the girl admires her a lot in the romantic sense hehe.)
Yeah. Definitely. In times of war, horrible things happen, especially in genocide-related conflicts going around the world. And it's like, why is this always the sort of thing that's inevitable? But it is. I don't know why. And I do think that Astoria did the best thing she could've done in order to keep the both of them alive, but Ginny probably would have rather died. (A very Gryffindor thing to say, I think.) And because of this, Astoria is definitely, definitely going to be haunted for a very, very long time.
Thank you so so much for your review!! It was so thought-provoking and detailed. <3
Hi Eva! I saw you posted in review tag and I thought I'd just head over here to review something of yours! I haven't had the chance to read something from you yet, but I've been wanting to for a while and have made mental notes to go back and read a few more of yours that I'm interested in!
I love your characterization of Astoria, as this spunky and selfless person! But also, she's so cunning and calculated, it's so very well done and she's written so well, especially during this time period of the war during Hogwarts. She seems to have this interesting spot carved out for herself at school this year where she knows exactly what's right and what she should be doing but it's such a fascinating dynamic watching her try and keep it on the down low since none of her friends and house mates share that view!
Also, the CARROWS. They are so creepy, fromt the beginning (but I did not realize just how, but I'll get to more on that in a minute), from the initial moment when Amycus calls her pet. Pet. I thought you really described that well, bringing out a little more of Astoria's spunk and stubbornness when she's like she was no one's pet. It was another moment that showed her true character and that she was actually a fighter!
My jaw DROPPED at the fifth scene! Plot twist caught me off guard! The exchange between her and Ginny after she lifted the Imperius Curse was so powerful and I think emphasizes a big difference between the two of them in the way they go about figthing their battles and what's important to them. All of the lives she saved were phenomenal, but this one. WOW!
Anyway, I am absolutely floored by how incredible this was and I can't wait to read more of your work! You did such an awesome job and I'm so glad I was able to read this!
Hi Sarah!! I'm so happy that you decided to drop by! <3
YAY I'm so glad you like her! This time period was probably Peak Astoria in terms of her using her wits and such. Probably because it was considerably more life-and-death than any other part of her life haha. Anyway, I'm really happy you found the dynamic interesting. <3
Ohh, yes, the Carrows are definitely very, very creepy. It seems to be unavoidable that people in power in genocides like this do terrible things to women, but anyway. I'm glad you appreciated Astoria's little bit of distaste at the demeaning nickname; she hates everything they stand for haha.
It's really interesting because some people seemed to know from the beginning what would happen in the fifth life, and other people (like you) were caught off guard! I love both reactions, but yes, it's pretty horrific, what Astoria went through. I love that you mentioned their exchange and their differences, because I feel like Ginny is so quintessentially Gryffindor while Astoria is firmly in the Slytherin camp.
Thank you so much for your kind review!!! <3
Hi, Eva! Here for our swap.
Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear.
The last section of this story caught me off guard. What bothers me isn't the content. It isn't the way you wrote it, which was understated and expressive and very well done. I guess the thing that gets to me a bit is that you're so young (well, young relative to me, anyway) and such a sweet person. Yet you've captured this very dark scenario with all of its different angles and the different ways it impacts Astoria. You did a fabulous job with it. Part of me wishes that none of us needed to understand such things.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. What a unique, well-thought-out and well-written take on Astoria's character and her role in the war. It would be one thing to simply have her defect to the DA, or to have her be this subversive element within Slytherin House. Neither of those would have really worked in this dark, dangerous world you've constructed. Opposition of any sort would not have been tolerated by your version of Amycus and Alecto, even from the child of their master's benefactor. So instead you give us this self-styled double agent Astoria. She has the Carrows wrapped around her finger while secretly aiding the resistance. Brilliant!
Ah, poor stupid Goyle. One wonders how he developed the proficiency to cast the Killing Curse, but he plainly can't cast it competently. I love the way Astoria basically dominates him. I also love how each section gets longer and more complex. It's a good way to bring the reader along.
The second section makes it clear what an influential, imposing figure Astoria has become within Hogwarts. The other students, even the older Slytherins, are afraid to cross her. One thing I would have loved to understand a little better is how she rose to this stature. Is it mostly because of her father's patronage of the Dark Lord? Did she achieve this through some particularly ruthless actions of her own? I think you could have further bolstered her character with a bit more back story.
Her face was not what most people would associate with genocide and murder; in fact, Astoria would have called it downright grandmotherly were it not for the lines of hate etched deep into her skin. -- I love this passage. Such a contrast.
The treatment of the First Years by the Carrows and the Slytherins was another heart-breaking touch. I can feel the story building toward a crescendo, with the details getting more and more gritty as we go from section to section. Good to see the brave man Neville has grown into. He's going to do what he must to protect the little Firsties. When Astoria gives him the opening, he takes it. Then Astoria lays a bit of... embellishment on for him. Loved the dancing jinx.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it also feels a bit like her godly stature among the Slytherins is starting to wear a bit thin in the third section. While Nott and Crabbe ultimately submit to her demands, they definitely push back harder. Again, it feels like her role in this story is on an arc of sorts, where she's forced to sacrifice more and more of her own prestige and safety to continue protecting others.
Susan! My favorite! I really love the character and I love what you've done with her here. Such a brave, loving person. I approve of how horrible you've kept Pansy. No loss of love there.
Astoria takes a torture curse for someone she doesn't even really know. Again, her personal safety is being diminished more and more. If that was someone nastier and more aware -- someone who wasn't Pansy -- she could have been completely exposed. I like the fact that you made Astoria quite average in terms of how debilitating the Cruciatus is to her. It was a nice touch of humanity for a character who spends most of this story at risk of becoming super-human.
And then we come to the final section. This being a review, I don't want to say too much about it, but I also don't want to say too little. You made Amycus appropriately creepy and lecherous. It told me all I needed to know that not even Astoria was safe from his base desires. As long as he didn't curse her, he probably reasoned that he was safe enough. The situation with Ginny was completely heart-breaking. Two vulnerable young women, doing what they had to do in order to survive.
“And some people would rather see the heroes live to save another day.” -- This was an amazing line. I really would have liked to see a little bit more of Ginny's reaction. Just another sentence or two so we see how the interaction between the two witches ended.
I thought you did a fantastic job with this. Thank you for the swap.
Haha I get what you're saying, but also I just wanted to say that I don't feel that young. Like I feel like once you reach the point where you really actually learn about the world and all the different aspects of it, it's difficult to sit back and just pretend it's not there like you did when you were younger. Just my thoughts! I'm glad you thought I did well with this section, though.
That's trueee, like I don't think either strategy of just straight-up joining the DA or being a disobedient force within Slytherin would have worked. (Thinking on it further, I'm not sure the latter option is a Slytherin tactic at all; if anything I feel like most Slytherins would play the discreet subterfuge game, while Gryffindors would be more obvious.) I love the way you phrased that, though, "this self-styled double agent Astoria"! It makes her role sound much cooler than it probably feels to her haha.
Honestly that's an excellent question -- how was Goyle proficient enough to cast any spell at all? However I feel like people who are fully committed to doing horrific things will find a way to get there, so he does manage to cast Killing Curses (even if they are rather awful). I have to be honest, the sections gradually becoming longer was not an intentional thing -- there was just more and more happening, and so they just naturally...stretched. I'm really happy it serves the story well, though!
I was actually a little surprised when I read your analysis of the second section. (Not in a bad way! It just brought to light an idea that I'd never really considered while I wrote this.) I never thought of Astoria as someone who was influential and imposing in Hogwarts, especially to the older Slytherins. In my head, I'm sure they thought she was a total brat, trying to one-up them all the time, and that it was just the Carrows' adoration of her, like a teacher's pet, that kept them from throttling her. But also, I think Astoria gets away with it in part because of this complete confidence she has when she speaks -- I don't know if you've ever personally experienced this, but whenever I speak to someone younger than me who's wholly confident in what they're doing, I just kind of naturally listen to them. But I do agree that perhaps more backstory would have better bolstered her story.
When I was thinking of what could have happened during Hogwarts while Harry was gone, I kept thinking back to this class on genocides that I took senior year of school, and it's just that "normal" people can do awful, horrific things. So I'm sure that life at Hogwarts was miserable, terrifying, and torturous for many, and I do wish that JKR talked a little more about that. But also it was a children's book, so I can understand why she wouldn't. Once again, though, I didn't intend for Astoria to have a "godly" stature amongst the Slytherins -- they certainly don't worship her, and she doesn't quite expect them to. I do agree that as the story goes on, she gets more and more involved and makes more and more sacrifices to save the DA members.
I LOVE SUSAN TOO. She's maybe one of my favorite minor characters! And yes, Pansy is quite terrible. I'm gonna be honest, though, she's one of my favorite minor characters, too -- not as a person, but as someone who's fascinating in the worst possible way. Yes, the Cruciatus Curse, like any curse, affects Astoria as it would affect anyone else. She's very human, unfortunately (or fortunately?).
Thank you for your thoughts on the last section! I definitely understand what you're saying about adding more to the interaction. Thank you so much for the swap!!
Hi Eva!! Here with the first of your prize reviews!! :)
Okay so, wow. This is a PHENOMENAL piece! You've taken part of canon that definitely was not written about explicitly by JKR and really expanded what it was like at Hogwarts with the Carrows while the Trio was off in the woods. Not only that, but you've written it from the perspective of a student on the "winning" side at the time, and an often overlooked character at that in Astoria Greengrass. What I also love that you've done with her character is made her not quite sympathetic, but still someone who we want to root for and who we want to continue fighting for the right thing, even in secret. I also really enjoyed how you set this up in the 4 + 1 format, with her saving four lives and the fifth being hers saved. It really provides depth to her character here because of the very different situations she finds herself in and how she has to think about saving the different students. The choice of characters that Astoria saves is also very well done and I think completely intentional. The story is written in a way where the situation escalates in danger and tension for both Astoria and the people she's trying to save. Starting with Michael Corner in a low-level situation, then moving to Lavender Brown's torture was a very good introduction to Astoria's personality and what her goal is regarding her fellow students, regardless of House or alignment in the War.
Moving on to a much larger, more volatile situation with Neville protecting the first/second year students on their way to classes from Nott and Crabbe was a very well written scene. You had multiple characters involved, including background ones (the younger students) and you managed to convey the four main participants' actions and thoughts so well! Astoria really gets the chance to think on her feet here because she now has witnesses to deal with directly, so she must be more inconspicuous with her assistance to Neville and his students. The same type of situation with Pansy and Susan Bones next almost requires more finesse because she knows Pansy well, whereas with Nott and Crabbe, they are much too arrogant and don't take time to think it through before agreeing to go along with her plan.
That last one, though. Just wow. I honestly had my hand covering my mouth the entire time I was reading that scene because it just kept getting worse and worse for Astoria, and also for Ginny. Just imagining what the girls were going through, as you alluded to, was the most horriyfing thing that happened in this story, as it well should be. The last few paragraphs where Astoria is lying in her bed in her dormitory thinking about what happeneed a few hours earlier with Amycus and Ginny, was some of the most truthful, painful writing about the Imperius curse I've ever read. It's truly eye-opening when you expand that view to the rest of HP canon and all of the times it got used then, and also back in the First Wizarding War, with how often it was used then as an excuse for people's actions, when it very well was also likely used as a punishment.
Honestly, this is one of the best stories about this time at Hogwarts during the Second War that I've ever read, and not just because it's something not always written about. The content provides details about how maybe not all of the Slytherins were for Voldemort, and how the power the Carrow twins had over the school was likely abused in multiple, horrible ways. It's a provocative callout about the Unforgivable curses and what some of their less-common and more-awful uses can be. This was such a phenomenal read, and I am definitely happy you had me select this as one of your prize reviews because holy crap was this good--heartbreaking, but good. I look forward to reading some of your other pieces as well, Eva!
Hi Madi! <3
You are honestly way too kind; the entire time I was reading your review I was a mess of hearts and giggles and thank-yous. *sobs* But yes, I've always loved the idea of this mysterious Astoria Greengrass, of whom we know pretty much nothing, and so to fit her into the HP world, right smack in the middle of the conflict that's going on, was one of my favorite things to do! I'm just so happy that people seem to like this story almost as much as I had fun writing it. And yeah, you're definitely right; I didn't want to leap headfirst into the dramatic, horrific scenes so I tried easing you guys in a little bit with the first two lives haha.
Ahh thank you!! I'm so glad that you liked the scenes featuring Neville and Susan; Astoria being quickthinking was actually so hard to write omfg (I am not quickthinking nor am I clever ahaha). I totally agree with you, though, that the scenes with Neville and Susan required different forms of subterfuge where she had to act the entire time like she was on their side, while sneakily helping out the "other" side. Pansy is actually one of the most intriguing characters to me, not gonna lie, largely due to her cowardice, so it was a lot of fun writing her being horrible haha.
I'm conflicted because I'm glad that you had a strong emotional response to it but also I feel sorry in case it affected you a lot! But yes, the two girls went through something horrible and traumatic, and though they remained physically unscathed, this moment was probably the worst part of the war for both of them. And I'm really glad you liked the talk about the Imperius Curse! It always bothered me a little how easily it was used in canon because, I mean, having literally no control over your limbs? Terrifying.
I am so so happy that you liked it; your review was so good and so kind and it still makes me feel happy even now. Thank you so so much! <3
I finally got around to sitting down and taking the time to read your story because in honesty I have confession to make and I think you already know this but I'm going to repeat myself again just because I'm still insistent that I had no idea it was you who wrote this at first because I think I saw this story being featured before the Hear Ye Hufflepuff May newsletter came out and I was browsing through the archives for who knows what to read and long story short, I ended up reading almost halfway through this before we got paired up for the Review Bingo and I've been meaning to finish it so I apologize if this is a very late review or way later than expected! I really have a lot that I want to say regarding this story yet I don't know if I'll remember all of what I want to say but onward to the review!
The first thing I'm going to comment here is is this: I love your writing style and how your writing alsoflows very well. I'm going to add that word sums up my thoughts about it: WOW. In all honesty, I don't normally say those words quite often unless I'm in awe and genuine about it. Your word choice is lovely and great, each sentence flows smoothly and each word feels not only authentic to the story's tone. Admittedly I'm still a novice writer in all honesty but my awe of this story is genuine especially the writing because I just had to pause, re-read your sentences, and made sure that I was able to not just read and enjoy the story but also understand it too in some ways.
I love the fact that Astoria is a complex, riveting, three dimensional character whom I got to know in each section of the lives since I found that she's noteworthy through the uses of words that you use to illustrate her be it her nuances to her agency. She's got a variety of traits like the fact that she is haughty, manipulative, clever, brave, selfless, and of course, flawed. I seriously don't know much about Astoria with exception of the canon things I read about on other sites like Pottermore, Harry Potter Wikia, and or anything that comes from J.K. Rowling herself so I was highly intrigued by the way you managed to craft her as I found that she feels like a real person exhibited with feelings and dialogue which I find great. Also would it be safe for me to assume that Astoria is Korean since I noticed there was a mention of Korean culture in the second life part? If so, I think it's awesome that she is since I always love seeing asian represntation in stories.
Something I found that I also loved about the story was the description along with the reactions and actions considering I felt that you managed to weave in so many details that it doesn't feel like just a story but also a movie in the depths of my own imagination. I don't feel like I'm watching a movie but rather I feel like I'm in it and it's a movie that expands in my own head and get a sense of what's going on. Honestly I think it's great whenever a writer can help me not only understand but visualize their world alongside getting to know their character and where the plot is going. A good example is when hours after the damage had been done involving the Ginny and Astoria casting the Imperius Curse: "Hours later, as Astoria stared at the ceiling of her room, which shifted with the refracted light from the Great Lake outside her window, she walked through her mental palace and drifted past the memories. Somewhere inside her was a flame searing enough to boil her blood, but a spreading coat of ice was numbing everything within her." I really love that you described the numbness as ice spreading since that's one of the easiest thing for me to feel since I know what being numb is like and when you described her reaction to being hit with the Cruciatus Curse and the aftermath of it: "She lay there gasping for breath, her robes drenched in sweat. Her entire body felt as though it had been mercilessly battered by a rocky, tumultuous river." Yes, both scenes depicted the protagonist having to face the consequences of her actions but I personally felt those scenes really impacted me in a way and not because of the pain and suffering that's being and or have been inflicted but the aftermath really causes you to think. I felt these two scenes let the reader get a good sense of what they're reading but also better understand the atmospheric feel of the story. I really felt you handled the terror and horror of this story very well without being too excessive about it.
There were many things I wanted to say regarding each lives since I had so many reactions as I read through them one by one. I can't really sprout them in just few sentences as I find that in all honesty that I can't summarize to a few things so I'm going to try and divide my thoughts and opinions in sections as you did with each of the lives.
Starting off with the first of the fives lives, I read the scene where Astoria scolds at Goyle after he constantly misfires the killing curses so many times and found myself rolling my eyes when she had to deal with him being a simpleton but props to her for handling him maturely since I know if I were shoes that I would of have of have been rather blunt towards him without disregard to anything that would of have happened since I wouldn't stand for that. I was relieved when I read that Michael Corner got away unscathed in the process though and actually sighed a relief when I read that part. Honestly Goyle feels like somebody you can't trust with being on Prefect duty in the corridors at night since he can't even aim a killing curse properly and that says a lot about him yet I can understand why he's there. I really felt bad for Astoria having to deal with him.
The second life is the part that really had me feeling apprehensive since I thought Lavender Brown would come really close to death since they had been torturing her through the use of the Cruciatus Curse until Astoria was able to manage to find a way to step in and feign her using the killing curse to fool the Carrows. This scene also seems much darker than what I recall reading in the books since I don't think the Carrows would of have had any characters be killed if I vaguely recall. Also the part where you mentioned the Korean culture with the body not being covered can bring bad luck is interesting since I had no idea about that and it's interesting to learn that. (I hope I worded that correctly and that made sense). Could I assume that Astoria is Korean from this or? On the otherhand, I liked the fact that Astoria does her best to not only keep Lavender alone but does her best with the knowledge of the to heal Lavender before taking her to the Hospital Wing. The last line where she warns Lavender to not get caught is just brilliant since it really sums up who she is in this scene.
I felt a huge part of me loving and admiring Astoria when reading about her helping Neville in the third life after she hesitated in trying figure after noticing that he getting beaten up by Theodore Nott and Crabbe which is probably my favorite of the lives that I read so far considering how she not only manages to cleverly stop Neville from being beaten up by them and letting the third year Muggle-born students that he was defending from Nott and Crabbe escape yet she manages to easily. I love that when he even when he questions her that she doesn't even given him a response as it may come off mysterious but it really speaks volumes about her.
Regarding the fourth life I honestly loved that she also took the hit for the Cruciatus Curse in a way that Pansy wouldn't have suspected and reported anything fishy to the Carrows and how Susan didn't hesitate to come to her aid and deciding to take her to the Hospital Wing rather than leave her although it's not surprising since we Hufflepuffs are known for being selfless and or helpful to those in need. I love the genuine response that she gives to Astoria considering that she's not fond of what just happened yet I felt like she was thankful of what just occurred.
The fifth life was really hard for me to read at first since I found myself immediately wanting to skim through it considering I kind of got a horrible feeling of what was going to happen. I remember when reading when Ginny was caught by Amycus that I found myself thinking something between the lines of: "Frick! No, not Ginny! No, no!" when I realized what happened or at least when I got a sense of what had entailed when Astoria used the Imperius Curse on her. I think at that point, all I could do, was conclude that Amycus Carrow is a sick man and was thoroughly repulsed by him especially during that scene. I know that I always disliked him and his sister in the Deathly Hallows but my loathing for him amplified whilst and after reading this.
I know there's probably more scenes that I may have forgotten to mention that I reacted to but those are just some of the many things that I enjoyed throughout the entirety of this story.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed Five Lives and felt this one shot is very worthy of not just a Golden Chalice nomination but also being the Hufflepuff Story of The Month and not just any awards but also one of my personal favorite one shots even though I normally stray towards lighthearted and fluffy fanfictions in all honesty but I felt this was compelling and thought provoking which is something I also enjoy reading. With all that said, I hope to read more of your works soon but honestly I'm so glad that I came across this when I did! Awesome job!
That's so funny, I never would've thought that people would just happen to stumble across my story haha. I'm actually always super impressed by people who scroll through the featured stories lists and read them; you're amazing. And no, no, this review wasn't expected or late at all, and I just wanted you to know that I appreciate every single one of your kind words so much. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a long, thoughtful, amazing review!! <3
AHH that means so much to me omg. Thank you for complimenting my writing!! I'm still learning to write myself (though I'm sure your writing doesn't read like a novice's, so please share it with us soon so I can read and review it!) so I'm just so thankful for your kindness. Trying to figure out how to put sentences together without being repetitive is weirdly difficult hahaha.
I'm so so happy you liked the different sides to Astoria. I was trying so hard to give her a voice distinct from all the others (once again, without being repetitive, because I always want to repeat the same words for some reason??) so I'm really glad you noticed all these things. All the descriptive words you picked for her are so good!!! That's exactly how I would describe her. Also, I don't know much about Astoria either, because I haven't been keeping up much with Pottermore or the HP wikia, which is why I just kind of made up all these traits haha. I have no idea how JKR envisioned her, but I've always enjoyed the idea of this kind of Astoria. And YES. Astoria is Korean! Asian representation is my favorite thing in the world.
Thank you!! I'm so happy you liked the descriptions. I never know when to include them and when to not, and sometimes I feel like I go overboard, but as long as you were able to imagine what was going on, I'm happy. Also thank you so much for giving specific lines, it's always so good to hear which parts specifically people seemed to enjoy, thank you thank you thank you. Yeah, being numb is a terrible feeling. You'd think it wouldn't be, considering you're not feeling anything, but sometimes that's the worst part of it all. And I'm so relieved to hear that I didn't go overboard with the horror; I know that stories that include darkness and grittiness and just general grimdark can be annoying sometimes, but also I didn't want to leave out the worst parts of the war, and I didn't know how to strike the balance. So thank you. <3
Ahhh I love that you went and left your thoughts on all the five lives; I always, always appreciate it when people do that because it must take such a long time to write all your thoughts. <3
THE FIRST LIFE: Honestly, lmao. People in power shouldn't be allowed weapons (like their wands lol, which the prejudiced Pureblood students will almost always certainly use for the worst curses). If I were Astoria, I probably would've crawled into a corner and just laid there until Goyle was gone, I'm such a coward haha. Astoria is a saint for dealing with him appropriately while also managing to save Michael Corner's life, yes.
THE SECOND LIFE: You're not the first person to say that the Carrows didn't allow students to be killed, which makes me slightly nervous because maybe I'm misremembering canon? But I totally thought that the only students that they tried not to hurt that much were the Pureblooded students, even if they were against the Carrows. (I think it was Neville, right? The Carrows didn't want to spill pure blood, or something. I just always assumed that it meant non-Pureblooded students were in far more danger.) Actually, it's not a real part of Korean culture -- Astoria briefly mentions that it was a lie in order to convince the Carrows that what she was doing was normal. I'm glad you liked the ending of this scene. <3
THE THIRD LIFE: This was one of my favorite lives to write!!! I'm always so happy whenever people say they liked this one. It took me sooo long to think of a way for Astoria to get Neville and the children out of this omg, but I finally figured it out in the end haha. I thought it would make sense for a Pureblood to scathingly criticize other Purebloods for fighting the "Muggle way" hehe.
THE FOURTH LIFE: Hufflepuffs are honestly the best. (Though maybe I'm biased hehe.) I had a lot of fun writing this section, too. Susan was really a breath of sunshine. (I just realized that I might be repeating a lot of things from the questions that you asked me in the thread -- thank you for those, by the way, they were so much fun to answer!)
THE FIFTH LIFE: I know, I'm sorry; I really should've included a trigger warning at the top of the page. Writing this section felt sickening to me, but I'm also positive that there's no way Carrow went through the year at Hogwarts without doing something like this. Historically, that's just not possible.
Thank you so much, it means so much that you enjoyed this story even though you prefer fluffy, happy fics! Thank you for your review, thank you for everything. <333
I originally read this a few months ago and thought I reviewed it, but I don't think I did. I realized that I never reviewed it when I seconded it for the Golden Chalice nominations. (Hope you win!)
Seven o'clock is crazy early for curfew. Usually I'm still eating at that time, so that means pretty much everyone has to finish dinner in the Great Hall by six something in order to make it back to their common rooms on time. Wow.
I really love how Astoria's inner dialogue is just so scathing, and you can practically just taste the cold haughtiness that everyone else sees, yet despite her demeanor she's not really on the Death Eater's side. She calls Goyle stupid for throwing around kililng curses, thinks the Carrows are stupid, basically call them all idiots. But I think all of that attitude is really just hiding her own fear. Calling Goyle idiotic for throwing around killing curses when he gets startled is a legitimate complaint, but she's also terrified that he'll accidentally kill her. So, she acts annoyed and haughty about it to hide her own fear.
Wow, Astoria was incredibly clever in the way that she saved Michael Corner's life without drawing suspicion to herself. She's a true Slytherin.
Wait, wait, wait. Students, normal students, actually died under the Carrows? I always assumed, that since Neville was still alive by the time Harry came back, that the Carrows never wanted any of the D.A. students dead because of spilling "pure blood" or whatever. But the fact that they were pretty nonchalant about Lavender's "death" raises the stakes quite a bit. You made being part of the D.A. such a more dangerous act in this story, so good job. Lavnder went through so much and she's not even Neville or Ginny, one of the leaders. I also suddenly respect Lavender Brown a lot more.
The first time around reading this story, I didn't pick up on the Korean culture reference in regard to the blanket. Does that mean you wrote Astoria as Korean? That's awesome!
I'm seriously amazed at both Astoria's cleverness and boldness in saving Lavender. She didn't implicate herself, and she actually elevated her own standing, and directly lying to the Carrows takes serious guts. Just, wow. And the authority that she commands is spectacular. That doesn't come easy.
Astoria seems to be getting more bolder as time goes on, which is awesome. For her third life, with Neville, she didn't even have the semblance of a plan in place before interfering, which I gather is very unlike her. Astoria strikes me as someone who always has a plan. Luckily, she comes up with one rather quickly.
I really wish Astoria would join the D.A., but I see why she doesn't. She strikes me as someone who interferes when they see a situation, but doesn't go actively seeking situation or outright rebellion. Also, she doesn't seem very trusting, and so I can see her not getting along with the D.A. I doubt she takes orders well.
Can I just say that it's awesome that Astoria uses her vulgarity to cover up her own intentions, empathy, insecurities, and fear? It's so effective.
The fourth life, I feel like, there were truly consequences for Astoria helping others. All the other times she got away scot-free, but this time she got hit by the Cruciactus Curse. While her status isn't broken, this time she doesn't exactly escape unscathed.
Oh no oh no oh no I forgot about what happened with the fifth life. It's so, so much worse than all the others. Just... AHHHHHH! Astoria is seriously incredible. I could never have done that in a million years. I would have tried to attack Carrow and would probably die in the process. Yes, they lived, but at what cost?
The end of the story where you discuss the Imperius Curse is seriously beautiful. It's deep, relevant, and thoughtful, and suddenly the curse has fresh horrors that I never considered. It's true, I always considered the Killing Curse and the Cruciactus Curse to be the worst. But the Imperius Curse can be worse in the correct hands. It's terrifying.
Poor, poor Astoria. I love her so much.
I love this story so much! It's well deserved as a nomination in the Golden Chalices, and I've also just realized that is was May's Story of the Month in Hufflepuff. Congrats!
Hey, Claudia! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a surprise review. And thank you for seconding it in the Golden Chalices, it made me so so happy!! <3
That is very true. I usually eat dinner really late, so I would probably struggle a lot with this curfew haha. But you know how resistance groups form their plans and meet during the night, and so the people in power (the Carrows, the other Purebloods) would want everyone out of the way as early as possible. And just, unreasonable restrictions are a common occurrence in past genocides, so I figured it'd make sense for the Carrows to implement it here.
Yeah, Astoria definitely was concerned that Goyle was going to cause harm to her, even if by accident. She still think he's an idiot, that the Carrows are just completely stupid, because they are, but she is afraid of them. (I mean, I feel like it would take superhuman bravery in order not to be scared of prejudiced genocidaires left in charge of children, you know?)
Hehe I'm happy you thought it was clever!
It could be that my memory's faulty, because I haven't touched the books in a very long time, but I thought the Carrows only kept Neville alive because he was a Pureblood. In my head, that meant that other students, non-Purebloods, were fair game. At the very least, I think it's highly unlikely that the Carrows didn't torture multiple (non-Pureblood) students to death; they're in power, and they are murderous and prejudiced. So I think that they wouldn't have cared who died, so long as it wasn't someone of Pureblood stock. Yeah, I do think that being a part of the DA would've been a terrifying job, and I think that Lavender definitely did her part, much as JKR doesn't like her haha.
Oh, yep! Astoria's at least half-Korean in my headcanons hehe. I had a good number of Korean models/celebrities to choose from, so I was really happy while I was requesting the banner lmao.
Definitely, yeah, Astoria usually doesn't walk into things without a clear-cut plan in her mind, but she was short on time and needed Neville and the children not to die (unfortunately, vengeful Pureblood boys cared less about "decorum" and "propriety" and the rule about not killing other Purebloods). And so she just walked straight into it. (I did want Astoria to gradually get more and more involved with each life she was saving, so I'm glad you pointed that out!)
That is such an accurate analysis of Astoria. She's not one for organized rebellion; she'd rather figure things out on her own. (Mostly because she also thinks that her way is the best way.) And she knows that she needs to go around saving people whenever she hears of something troubling going on, but she's not going to obsessively keep watch like the DA would want her to. (I doubt she takes orders well, as well, haha.)
In some ways, she is trying to cover all those emotions up, but it doesn't necessarily mean that her vulgarities aren't genuine (as odd as it sounds). She genuinely means them. She wants people to feel her scathing attitude towards them. She hates the people she's talking to, half the time. (Which is perhaps not the best way to go about life haha.)
Yeah, this is the first time Astoria was actually willing to put herself directly in harm's way. All the other times, as long as her plan went accordingly, she would escape just fine, but this time, she stepped right into the path of the Cruciatus Curse. And I think that says a lot about what she thinks of Susan, and also a lot about what she chooses to do in the next life.
Ahhhh the fifth life was so hard. And I totally understand wanting to attack Carrow, but Astoria thinks differently. And your question of "at what cost?" is so accurate to this situation, because what did Astoria do to Ginny, in order to save her life? I'm also really glad that the ending bit about the Imperius Curse made you think a little bit. It's always been the worst curse for me to imagine.
Thank you so much for your wonderful review!! <3
Hi! magnolia_magic here from the forums with your requested review! First of all, I can definitely see why this one was featured a while back. It's fascinating and so well-written. I'm so glad you requested it!
So you asked what I think of Astoria, positive or negative. I think she is...complicated. Which is the most intriguing kind of narrator; I never quite felt like I could narrow her down to one or two defining traits. I think she is incredibly smart. I think she's righteous in her own way, but above all she is a survivor. She clearly has a gift for manipulation, for seeing exactly where a person's weaknesses are and using them to her advantage. It's clear that she belongs in Slytherin. And she is the perfect example of a character that embodies all these Slytherin traits, but they don't make her evil. She has a sense of right and wrong, but in no way is she willing to die for her beliefs. That's what separates her from a Ginny Weasley-type character. I loved the way you showed that key difference in the last scene. It was a horrifying decision that Astoria had to make in that moment, and it revealed a lot about the lengths she was willing to go to in order to save lives. Her own and those of the people around her.
You do a great job of capturing how truly bleak and traumatic it must have been at Hogwarts during that year the Death Eaters were in power. Astoria's dialogue seems so unnatural for a typical sixteen-year-old, which shows how far from typical she is. Along with her classmates, she's had to make unthinkable adult decisions while still a child. Again, that last scene with Amycus...I held my breath the whole time I was reading it. It's easy to judge a character like Astoria as being cowardly when you have characters like Ginny and Neville who openly stand up to the Carrows. But she wasn't. She was fighting a completely different type of battle than they were.
The scene with Susan was my favorite because I could see how much Astoria admired her kindness. Maybe that's just me reading too much between the lines, but it seemed like Astoria was a little bit in awe of her. And I liked the interaction between them; it seems like they could learn a lot from one another, if given the opportunity.
What else can I say? I loved the bleak ending. I loved seeing Astoria's quick thinking to keep her cover while saving all of these people. I loved the comparisons between different characters and how they respond to the horror around them, as well as the questions raised about morality in war time. At what point are your principles more important than your life? The answer is different for every character. I found that really fascinating, and I love that you explored it without painting any answer as right or wrong. It leaves the reader to try to think about what they would do in Astoria's place. I admire your talent! This is a fic to be proud of. Feel free to request another review from me any time!
Thank youuu! Your analysis of Astoria was so much fun to read, I was just grinning all throughout the whole thing. AND YES. I desperately wanted to write a Slytherin that had all these Slytherin traits without being evil. That old stereotype is done and played, haha. And I love the characteristics that Slytherins embody, so it makes me so sad that they're portrayed as evil so often. Like, Jo improved their characters as she went on, giving them more nuance, but in the beginning of the series, they were really clearly the "evil" house. Anyway I get really passionate about Slytherins haha. But I definitely agree that Ginny Weasley would have had a different set of priorities while doing this.
I do agree that Astoria is harsher and colder than the average sixteen-year-old, but her swearing... Goodness, I have to listen to sixteen-year-olds speak, and they swear like sailors ahaha. But the world did change her, to make her this way. And I agree that Astoria can't be overall classified as "cowardly." She's doing different things in a different way, but she's definitely not cowardly.
HAHAHA SUSAN. After writing this scene I realized that I must've subconsciously been shipping them or something. (This was one of my favorite scenes to write. I loved writing Susan, darling ray of sunshine.) Astoria definitely was a little bit (a lot bit) in awe of Susan. She admired the calm and comfort that Susan could bring the children hehe.
Yesss thank you! Thank you for leaving your thoughts, and for giving your own opinion on what Astoria did. I loved reading this review. Thank you so so much <3
O/ Hey, Eva!
Goyle traisping down Hogwarts corridors, frightened and spouting off the Killing Curse at every shadow is a terrifying thought. I love how this first section indirectly reveals so much about Astoria's characterization already. Simply by not allowing Goyle to kill Michael Corner (or give away that he was ever there to begin with) and allowing Michael to flee by distracting Goyle, it's pretty clear that she, at the very least, doesn't agree with all the mindless torture and killing that's going on. There's also the bit about Goyle's prejudice that lends to that idea as well.
I love the way you're portraying Astoria -- stubborn and extremely clever. I love how quickly she comes up with her plan to save Lavendar's life and how well it was all executed. She used the Carrows' favoritism towards her and their own physchotic pleasure in torture against them flawlessly. It was quite daring of her, knowing that if she slipped up and spoke a healing spell out loud that she'd be caught and the sheer pressure of having the Carrows right outside the door, able to enter at any moment they pleased must have been nerve-wracking. The false culture reference as to why she covered Lavendar with the blanket definitely shows her quick-witted nature.
The sass on her -- I swear. Some of her narrative has me positively rolling on the floor (ex. "protecting her from the dangerous men of not-bigoted-and-stupid society"). I feel so bad for the little first years -- I don't know with anyone with even the slightest bit of soul can stand by and watch little children being tortured and harmed. It makes me extremely happy that Astoria takes it upon herself to silently help them, at least as much as she could. In a way, it seems that it is almost better that she's not apart of DA, as she can work from the inside with her cunning to impede some of the torture and killing. Using Crabbe's interest in marrying Daphane against him was absolutely brilliant, especially when tying it to expectations placed on Pure-blood behavior and how Muggle fighting is beneath them. I love how she's making it seem as if she's seriously not intending to help when she's really saving them big time.
I can imagine how helpless the teachers felt, too, with all of this madness going around. I really enjoyed how Susan was portrayed here, with her smiles and assurance that the children were safe and how much comfort she brought to them, especially in the wake of everything that was happening. I'm sure that having people like Susan around must've been at least a small repreive from all the darkness. And also, this line was awesome, "So a simultaneous ‘eff you' and ‘thanks,' I gues" -- I love your Susan. This is also where I saw Astoria turn from being cunning and sharp to being completely selfless. It takes a LOT of bravery to willing step in front of the Cruciatus Curse.
Holy shit -- that last section. This is taking self-sacrifice to a whole new level. It shows the power madness that Carrow has as well as exactly how much Astoria is willing to sacrifice for the protection of others. She weighed the odds and decided that the only solution that she could find where she and Ginny both came out physically unscathed was absolutely horrific. What's worse is that she was forced to make a choice for Ginny, who she doesn't know would make the same sacrifices that she would in order to survive.
Your build up to the climax was extremely well done and the height of the plot itself was shocking and jarring and I think you carried it out in the best way that something like this could have been done. Writing something this dark and controversal has to be done with a specific amount of class, in my opinion, and I think that you've done that here. It was horrifying and shocking and you revealed how much of a psychological toll it took on Astoria.
I also found that entire idea of the five lives intriguing. This is sort of like a snapshot of how Astoria saved five lives and what she had to sacrifice because of it. I adore how it revealed Astoria's character and everything about not only her strengths but her weaknesses, too.
I'm a huge fan of the Dark/Horror genre and this one checked all those boxes of things I look for in a dark!fic. I think you did a brilliant job with it -- it was absolutely ghastly (in the wonderful sort of way, of course).
Rumpels! Hi! <3
Ugh I know, imagine being a part of a genocide and being so callous and so used to murder that you just default to the Killing Curse. Astoria definitely disagrees with the ideology of the Carrows, especially how cruel they are. Sometimes I feel like maybe she would've kept to herself if the Carrows hadn't, you know, been terrorizing half the school, but yes, she definitely disagrees with them, and hates the prejudiced ideas that they spout off.
Thank you so much!! I just want to dance around the room every time someone says they like my depiction of Astoria, so THANK YOU. Many hugs! I don't know how else to respond other than with many smiles and many squishes, eep. I'm so glad you liked how Astoria saved Lavender, I think this was the section I was most unsure about, so this makes me really happy to hear!
Ahahaha I'm glad that some of Astoria's lines could lighten the mood a tiny, tiny bit amidst all the terrible things going on. Gosh, I know. Sometimes I just wonder about people who can be terrible to children. Like, eleven-year-olds are tiny, tiny little beings, and I just want to gather them up and give them all hugs and kisses all the time and make sure they never feel an ounce of danger in their lives? And then you have the genocides of history where they either slaughtered the children or systematically removed them from their parents. Ugh. Yeah I totally agree, I think that if Astoria had been a part of the DA, her job would've been that much harder, so in many ways I'm glad she didn't join. Hahaha subterfuge is Astoria's forte, and I'm so glad I pulled it off convingly, thank you!! <3
Honestly yeah. I kind of want to write a piece about what the teachers were doing in this time of horrors, because I'm positive that McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout worked their asses off to protect and arm as many children as they could with Defense knowledge. I wish so badly that Jo had given us more information on what happened during Hogwarts outside of the DA, because I want to know! What were the teachers doing? What specifically were the Carrows doing? Though I guess that's why I wrote this haha, to fill in the blanks. And I'm going to be honest with you, a part of the reason why I included Susan in this story was so I could get a reprieve, not just the characters hahaha. It was getting awfully dark.
The last section was really difficult to write, mostly because I needed Astoria to be cold and calculating in a situation like this. And yeah. She doesn't know that Ginny would've made the same choice, and that was the worst part of it for her, that she ruined someone without letting them have any say at all in it.
Ahh I'm so happy that you like this story! Thank you so so much for your wonderful review!! All your compliments made me blush and made me really happy so, again, thank you. <33
Gah. How do I even respond to this?
Let me just first say that I am in awe of this piece. That way you know that I loved it so in the rambling that is sure to follow you won't be utterly confusing.
How did you do this? How?
Let's start with the writing because that is something more concrete that I can gush about. You are a talented writer. I am so impressed by your writing. It never felt forced. It drew me in from the first sentence and half an hour later, when I finished the last line, I was brought back to my classroom (I read it during my prep period) and reminded that I wasn't, in fact, in Carrow-era Hogwarts. The language is BEAUTIFUL and POETIC and everything good. Please never stop writing.
The way in which you painted the era was just stunning. Horrifying, but stunning. This is a largely unexplored area of fic and I'm so glad you tackled it. I love dark pieces and so this was right up my alley. You did it COMPLETE and TOTAL justice, my dear. It's emotional and powerful and just so, so well done. I am even more disgusted by the Carrows than I ever thought I could be. They are monsters.
I adore Astoria. She's the perfect balance of haughty, self-righteous, brave, intelligent, powerful... She is definitely a Slytherin, raised by Purebloods, and she's also the "rebel" but she's somewhere in the middle and the nuances of her personality are striking. This whole piece is nuanced, and that's what makes it so difficult to respond to. Here's Astoria, working behind the scenes to help her fellow students, but it's not because she has a hero complex, and she's not about to join the DA. She doesn't do it for attention. She just... does it. Something compels her to help. And it's not because she has a heart of gold.
And the decision she had to make at the end just broke me. I found myself just as nauseated as Astoria when faced with the reality of the decision she had to make. Oh, God. I don't know what I would've done in her situation. My instinct would've been to fight, to do anything I could do to get out of that room--but then what would the repurcussions be? That she could consider all of that on the spot and make the difficult decision that she did is incredible. Ginny will never understand that decision. Hell, I'm not even sure I understand fully. That's what makes the ending so heartbreaking. Astoria doesn't know if she did the right thing, and neither do we. And her contemplation on which of the Unforgivable Curses is the most unforgivable was so fitting. Did she really save a life in the final section? Or did she somehow destroy a life? Did she destroy her own life? Her own soul? The chapter title is so clever, because the final scene here is not so cut and dry.
Gah. I am in awe, my dear. Everything about this piece is stunning. I need to read more of your work, after I pick myself off of the floor and manage to find my coherence again.
Seeing this from someone who writes such beautiful prose just absolutely made my week, thank you thank you thank you <3
I literally can't stop smiling as I'm responding to this, which probably looks a little strange to my classmates, whoops (I'm responding to this in school haha). But ahh I don't know what to say!! I'm just reading this review again and again and just feeling happy all over again each time. I'm so happy that you like my writing, it means so much to me. And your encouragement just makes me want to keep writing forever, so thank you so much.
Ahh thank you!! (I keep saying that, but I really mean it.) Writing dark pieces is really hard for me (tbh writing anything is hard for me, I'm always freaking out about everything I write lmao) especially because I'm always like "am I making this too melodramatic or???" so your review is very reassuring hehe.
Writing Astoria was so much fun! Because I love writing Slytherins for some reason, despite being as far away from a Slytherin myself as humanly possible. Yeah, definitely, your analysis of Astoria is spot-on. Though she gradually gets more and more personally invested in the lives of the DA, she still holds herself at arm's length from them, and to a certain degree, it's only because the Carrows are such terrible, horrible people that she's bothering to help out the DA, I think.
I don't know what I would've done, either. I have a horrible tendency to freeze up when frightened, and I'd just probably sit there and try to talk my way out. Which wouldn't have gone well. But there's not a single choice she could've made that would have gone well, and I feel like Ginny was too horrified and nauseated by what Astoria did to her (for good reason) to think about it from Astoria's perspective.
Thank you again!! I loved reading this review and hearing your thoughts on what Astoria did at the end. <3
Hi Eva dear!
Just...wow. I really adore Hogwarts-during-Deathly-Hallows stories, and this one is no different. Though actually, it is. It's so wonderful.
I love Astoria as a character (especially since reading Branwen's Greengrass stories, if you haven't checked those out!), and you did her so much justice. She was so amazing here, and I really adored how you worked the canon conflicts into her world. I'm a hardcore Dramione shipper, but when I have to ship Draco with anyone else, it's Astoria, and it's an Astoria like this-one who can make him better, one who's strong and brave and just. I loved her so much here. I have no words.
Your character-building and plot are phenomenal. Honestly, I was floored by the situations you created that Astoria experienced and fought through. They tugged at my heart so much, especially the last. God, that was terrible. (But so well written!)
Anyhow, I just wanted to say that this was incredible and you're so talented. Wonderful job, dear!
Hi Emily! <3
Yes omg Branwen's Astoria is one of my absolute favorites to read. I think there's a sad lack of quality Astoria fics out there, so I have to recommend Penelope_Inkwell's "Traitorous Hearts" to you -- have you read it? It's another one of my absolute favorites. And that's actually such an amazing compliment, the fact that you're a hardcore Dramione shipper but that my Astoria fits your image of Draco as well sdkjlk, thank you so so much.
Ahh that's so good to hear! I love that you liked the situations I wrote, it's such a huge relief.
Thank you, this review was so sweet and it made me so incredibly happy. <3
HELLO, EVA, SWEETHEART! I’M FINALLY LEAVING YOU A REVIEW!
About time, right?! I’m so excited to read this story!
Ooooh I can see from the start that it’s a 7th year Hogwarts setting, which I love! So dark and angsty and great.
Hmmm, Astoria has me guessing. Is she critical of Goyle because she dislikes his views, or because she wishes he was more capable of upholding them? I am intrigued.
oh my god
Goyle casting killing curses at mere shadows. That’s sick. And really thought-provoking because now I’m thinking about gun control and police brutality, and isn’t that so similar to the knee-jerk shot-to-kill mentality police seem to have? Chilling, girl, just chilling.
Astoria’s plans to haunt him made me laugh. Although to be honest, I’d rather be haunted by Astoria for a year than spend a day with Goyle… :P
“Goyle was such a child. In fact, everyone who exacted their power over others in this new school hierarchy was a child, the Carrows included. Petulant and terrified and so, so moronic.”
I have to quote this at you because the contrast between the authority that comes with power and the immaturity that drives people to it is honestly brilliant.
It seems like she is siding more with the Slytherins, but not willing to hurt people she sees as innocent. But then, the DA is made up f students, and that’s who she’s patrolling against. She needs to get her priorities figured… which I suspect is coming.
oh no. oh no, oh no. is it neville? ginny? scary stuff!
this is bleak and gross and very well written
Maybe it’s a survival instinct for Astoria to help them? Hmm
What is she doing???! This feels very risky?!
Her parents’ money. That’s interesting.
Oh, Lavender. My heart.
But Astoria’s going to help her, right? She HAS to! I’m assuming she’s saying these things as cover… oh thank goodness. I LOVE ASTORIA thank you.
And the Carrows can go rot
I know I didn’t say as much about this one but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT
Ugh. First years. Poor things, this kills me. They are CHILDREN this is so wrong.
Dude. Astoria with her silent casting is a BOSS! Thank you for saving my sanity and healing those babies
I LOVE NEVILLE SO MUCH.
“How could she save them without giving up her advantageous position of being a Pureblood elite?”
Very clever of her to put them down for “muggle fighting.” That dialogue is really well done, too
Ahahaha, I love that she cast Tarantallegra on them. Classic.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE NEVILLE?
Do I ship Sunsa/Astoria? You know, I just might
I do. I definitely do. Or maybe I just have a crush on Susan now.
DANG IT PANSY. GO AWAY. Why couldn’t she have kept being oblivious? *sobs*
oh my god
i can’t believe she’s stepping in front of the curse! imaging having your best friend do that to you… how horrible.
“Usually the student ended up dead.”
USUALLY????? HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED? This is so dark I need someone to come hold my hand while I read holy cow.
Oh, Daphne. She seems primarily oblivious, but to be oblivious in a situation like this seems sort of malicious in and of itself.
I DO NOT HAVE A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS
Also have I mentioned how creepy it is to call someone “pet”?? So much ewwww
NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE I WANT HIM DEAD RIGHT NOW
I CANNOT FORM WORDS
I am having a really hard time not swearing in this review because that was INTENSE. Actually, if I had read the summary more closely I might have picked a different story becaue the teacher/student interaction here is NOT OKAY. That said, I guess I'm glad I didn't realize that was coming because I'm happy I got to read a story by you, especially one of your favorites!
It's very well written. You give a lot of good sensory details - bile in her throat, chills, gestures - and I felt very drawn into the story. Astoria was an intriguing character, too. In every section. She's mind-bogglingly courageous and wicked smart - all that nonverbal healing! And she is face with the worst WORST choices. Who to hurt, who to kill, whether to rape or to murder.... she tackles so much with astounding wisdom. (Even if she didn't find an effective course of action in 5, she still made a choice and she prioritized her and ginny's survival. I don't fault that at all.)
I am a little confused about the sections, but it's a good kind of confusion. I'm not sure if they're all the same Astoria, over time, or if they're all different ways things might have gone, if that makes sense. I think maybe it's the title that maes me lean towards that. There's a novel I really enjoyed called Life After Life (by Kate Atkinson, if you're interested) where the MC keeps reliving the same life, and I felt this read kind of similarly. IDK but I really liked the novel and I really liked this. Even if it was thoroughly upsetting :P
You really capture all the different angles of horror in this world. Being hurt, witnessing other's be hurt, being made to hurt others, witnessing people you love do bad things.... and then the last one. *shudders*
Too scary for words, really. I hate to think how that experience reflects real life expereinces for many people. It's just terrible. But really well written. My strong negative reaction is a testament to the strength of your writing. *emphatic nod*
This was a fascinating read and your writing is unsurprisingly awesome and also i adore you
MANY HUGS Renee
DO I HAVE THE HONOR OF MY FIRST REVIEW FROM RENEE??? :O
All joking aside, I'm so thrilled to see you here! I love your writing so much and I'm just giddy out of my mind at reading this review again to respond to it haha. And this was such a funny, glorious, heartwarming review, too! I love how it reads like live-tweeting; it made your reactions seem very real-time-like haha. I JUST HAD A LOT OF FUN READING THIS REVIEW OKAY, THANK YOU FOR LEAVING ME SUCH A FABULOUS ONE <3
1: Oh my god, you're so right. I don't know, when you have a killing weapon at your disposal, even if you would never kill someone under normal circumstances (though let's face it, Goyle has always been considerably prejudiced), the chances of you using that weapon for murder just shoot up a crazy amount. I really appreciated your commentary there. And I would definitely choose to be haunted by Astoria over spending a day with Goyle as well. That's not even a choice hehe. Yes, Astoria is quite proud of being a Slytherin, but I'm not sure I would say that she sides with them, exactly. But you found that out anyway lol.
2: Here in your is where the live-tweeting really goes into play lmao. In my mind, while I was reading your review, I envisioned myself following a thread on twitter where you were posting your reactions haha. I just wanted to say that your reactions and guesses were highly entertaining, and even though you continued reading and discovered more about Astoria as the story went on, I still found it hilarious! Thank you <3
3: I KNOW how can anyone with a soul attack children?? Children are children and it hurts my heart whenever people are mean to them. Thank you haha trying to think like Astoria was crazy difficult because I am probably the least clever and intelligent person I know. I LOVE NEVILLE TOO. WRITING HIM WAS JUST A PURE GOLDEN BUBBLE OF JOY IN THE MIDST OF THE SCARINESS.
4: Anytime someone says that to me I just want to weep tears of happiness because I love Astoria/Susan (a ship developed by complete accident through writing this) and seeing other people enjoy this rarepair just makes me so happy!!! Ugh I know, everyday people somehow get caught up in these things all the time, and that makes me sad. Pansy should've stuck to talking about her career goals. :(
Oh yeah, sorry about that! And thank you so much, writing Astoria was a huge learning experience tbh and I'm really glad I did it. Even if she's like a million times smarter than me. As for your question about the sections -- they are all the same Astoria, saving five different lives over the course of her sixth year. (Harry's seventh. I think, canonically, Astoria is two years younger than Daphne and Draco and Harry, but I wanted her to be sixteen in this story while also keeping Neville and Susan and Lavender, so there's that haha.) Though that book sounds so so interesting, and I'll definitely have to check it out at some point. Thank you for the rec!
THANK YOU AGAIN *HUGS*
The first life:
Wow talk about drawing a reader in right away. From the very beginning all the way through this section I was completely drawn into the story and was wondering what was going to happen. Even with this being a section of the story it really packed a punch for me. The description was amazing and the characterization was spot on as well. I aboslutely loved Astoria in this section and could feel the annoyance she had for Goyle randomly spouting off the killing curse even though he didn't know what he was aiming at as well as just being frightened enough during patrols to feel the need to use the curse in the first place was annoying.
I loved that Goyle didn't really question her as he's not really portrayed in the series as being particularly smart so he wouldn't really put too much thought behind her reasons for making him turn a different direction for his spell. His character was really well done and you definitely made me feel that annoyance towards him but also maybe that slight pitying of the fact that he really doesn't know what he's doing for the most part. He's kind of just thrown into things and maybe he sort of wants to be but I feel like that's mostly out of wanting to prove himself and show that he can be useful as well.
The ending of this section was by far my favorite part. That small acknowledgement between Michael and Astoria of what she did for him while just briefly mentioned I still feel that it was very apporpriate. She wanted to see who she saved and maybe just to make sure that she hadn't just seen things as well but knowing that she was sort of expected to follow behind Goyle to make sure that he doesn't cast another curse blindly. It was really the perfect transition for this section. It was very smooth and clean.
The second life:
Wow talk about intense. I was so nervous for Astoria trying to pull all of that off. It was a lot of her to attempt to do espeically for someone she didn't even know, or at least didn't know who it was that she was trying to save on the other side of the door. I was especially nervous when she sort of went at it will Millicent as I can't imagine that she would take that too kindly. But it seemed to work out in her favor this time as her fear of making a mistake with the Carrows nearby kept her in check.
Also your description of the Carrows was amazing. I loved that she was grandmotherly looking but the etched lines of hatred made her less so. It made me imagine squinting eyes and a hard mouth and it just really seemed spot on. Besides that I also love when evil characters don't necessarily look evil.
With this section I wish that I felt a little more connection to why she risked her own life to save Lavender's and maybe that's covered later but I do feel like it's a lot to take on especially during this time at Hogwarts. With the first section I didn't get so much that she was purposefully going around and trying to save as many lives but then in this section it seems that it's more her goal to do so and maybe some small thoughts to tell the reader why or get more backstory would be helpful. But again maybe that's to come in a future section. Still really good and the pacing of the story is perfect.
The third life:
I think the thing I liked most about this one is that while it's the third life she saved technically she saved more than just the one with this one plan. And I also really liked the complexity of the plan. It depended on so much more than just her to really work out and while things didn't go off without a hitch the plan was able to evolve and make it all work out in the end.
This section made me really start to wonder if other members of the DA know what she has done already. Between Michael and Lavender it would have been easy for either of them to have mentioned something about her helping them especially in Lavender's case as Astoria was instrumental in helping her escape and it was a more public situation than Michaels.
You did a great job in this secion with the different characters and personalities that needed to be portrayed. Neville was very much himself. At times a bit aloof but he figured it out and was the Neville that we see during the war which was really nice. It was slightly interesting though that it appeared Crabbe had more of a role in ending the fight than Nott. With the way the Crabbe has typically been seen in the series I would have figured that Nott would have been much more vocal about his disgust and disagreement with Astoria. Although her plan was pretty brillient on calling them out for using more Muggle fighting techniques than participating in a Wizards duel.
I really love seeing this smarter side to Astoria and the strategies she has to use to keep her cover for what she is actually doing. I do hope that we will get to know more about her actual plan and why she is putting herself on the line.
The fourth life:
Very interesting. I loved the picture that you painted with this scene and to be honest, the last bit of this really stands out to me. Susan being both thankful and not about being saved. It makes sense really with everything they have gone through and will continue to go through.
I loved that in this chapter we actually got to see a little bit of light even though it was dimmed by the sadness of their current life. But still the small reprieve that there were no Death Eaters lying in wait to attack the students as they entered their class really lifted me up a bit especially after Susan really comforted each of them and helped them ease into the classroom and be able to move on from the situation if only for that small period of time.
At first when Astoria stepped in front of the curse I really thought that was going to be it. She was going to be found out and Pansy would know that she has been stepping in to save other people from these horrors. I loved that instead of jumping to that conclusion, Pansy believes that Astoria was actually just continuing their walk forward and that it was by complete accident that she ended up taking the curse for Susan. I think being Pansy I would probably think that as well rather than thinking maybe my friend and pureblood slytherin didn't care as much about blood purity as we originally thought. I thought that it flowed really well and it made sense.
I was definitely hoping that at the end here with Susan we would get more of an answer about why she was doing the things that she is. I believe that there would have to be some reason for her to go to all of these lengths to help the people that she has, even if she hasn't completely admitted the reason to herself.
The fifth life:
Wow, that's really about all I can say right now. And I thought the other sections really packed a punch but this one.. this one really makes me feel like crying. Crying for Astoria, for Ginny, and honestly for all of the other stories that haven't been told. I can't imagine after everything that Astoria has done to help everyone that this is what it came down to and she tried to pick the path that would leave everyone alive but this one was really going to leave scars on both parties.
I will say that at the beginning of this section there were a few spots that the flow was disrupted which I believe was do to wording/missing a word. But other than that it all flowed really well. I really don't have much else I can say about this section. It really hit home with the message you were hoping to deliver and that was great.
I thought that as a whoel story this flowed really well even with all of the sections and the different places and times. You gave enough details to make me feel like I was really there and that I knew each of the characters on a personal level. This was a very powerful piece and I'm so glad that you pointed me in this direction. This story definitely deserves being featured! Great job!
Ahh thank you for writing such a detailed review! I appreciate it so so much. <3
Haha omg thank you! I'm so glad you liked this first section. Can you imagine being stuck with Goyle for an entire patrol? If I were Astoria, I'd probably want to bite his head off, too. Pair that in addition to the fact that she pretty much disagreed with his entire existence, and you've got an entire patrol of Astoria insulting him in her head. Goyle isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, so to speak, which makes him pitiful but also, in some ways, more dangerous. And yes, you've got the ending to this section exactly right! It's a brief, silent moment when she gets to see who she saved, and I'm so happy you liked it!
Yeah, in this second section, she really risked a lot. Everything was calculated to a degree, but there's still the heightened danger of interacting directly with the people in charge of this wartime hell. I'm glad that you caught that detail of Alecto Carrow's physical description; I think there's an unfortunate tendency in films and books to have "ugly" and/or disabled people as the villains, so I definitely wanted to make Alecto look like any other grandmother. Also, while I was writing this, I was thinking about how Gryffindors are generally characterized as "good," while other Houses (especially Slytherin) need reasons to be "good." So I just wanted to write a Slytherin character who was good (or, at least, willing to do the right thing) without really considering why.
You make a good point, that she saves more than one life here in the third section! Even though it's technically only the third life she saves from within the DA members, she also rescues a small group of children to go along with it. What I loved imagining about Astoria was how quickly she could adapt her plans to her situations -- a true Slytherin, haha. I do believe that the DA knows what she's been doing, but that the opportunities for her to save them are few and far between, so there aren't many chances for them to really get to know her. Ah, I can understand what you're saying about Crabbe's characterization. I do think, however, that Jo exaggerated the effects of Crabbe's personality for comedic effect, and since Goyle has been shown to be cowardly and dangerous already, I wanted Crabbe to have a little bit more than that. In general, though, I didn't have a plan in mind for Astoria while I was writing this -- she just felt the obligation to save these lives, and though she didn't know why herself, she did it anyway.
This fourth section was definitely the happiest for me to write. Susan is one of those people that you know you need to keep in your life forever haha. I'm happy to hear this section lifted you up a bit! Little brief moments of happiness in between dark times are so important. And I'm also really happy to hear that you liked the conclusion that Pansy jumped to! I think Astoria's reason for doing this is that she sees people who are dying around her, and she's trying to keep them alive no matter what.
Ah, the fifth life was really difficult to write. In the end, Astoria was backed into a terrible situation...and, well, she picked the best thing she could think of. And probably permanently scarred Ginny Weasley in the process, which is terrible and tragic. And I should definitely reread and edit my stories more carefully lmao. Thanks for mentioning that!
Thank you so so much for this review. <3
I'm here with your requested review from the Staff Review thread. I want to start off by saying that I'm really impressed with your talents and story-telling ability. If I'm honest, I was a bit intimidated by the word count on this, as I tend to be a slower reader. However, this story didn't *feel* long and wordy. I was pulled in from the very beginning and brought along on an intense ride throughout.
I love your Astoria. As a Slytherin, she has some rather intense Gryffindor qualities and I like how you paint the delicate balance she walks between duty as a Slytherin prefect and the responsibility to the student body at large. In a way, it was easy (well, not easy, but you know...) for Harry, Ron and Hermione—everyone knew what side they were on and what they were fighting for. For Astoria, doing what is right requires quite a bit of finesse, and you really brought that to light. It was so much harder for someone like Astoria to manage this. She didn't have comrades to confide in, or even to strategize with. Every action and reaction had to rely on her instinct and pure nerves. Through it all, she kept a level head, and never swayed in her convictions or determination. What an incredible character.
Goyle always makes me cringe, being a dangerous combination of mean and stupid. I always thought he was more dangerous (and stupid) around Crabbe, but you've proved me wrong. When he doesn't trust his partner, he can be deadly!
“I am vigilant,” said Goyle crabbily,
I see what you did there... very clever.
I'd love to see you write this same story from one of the DA's point of view. Maybe Neville? I think he did a lot of growing up during this year, and he became the de-facto leader of the DA. You showed that beautifully in his short appearance here.
You managed to slowly weave the Carrows in an increasingly dark manner throughout the five vignettes and that was a very dramatic literary element. The last story was really intense, and I was downright uncomfortable reading through it, but I think that was the point. We aren't sugar coating anything here—war is hell, and the atrocities experienced on both sides left these young wizards and witches with scars that are mostly invisible.
Throughout all of this, I couldn't help but wonder how the DA viewed Astoria. Were they able to ascertain that she was trying to deflect many of the dark actions set out by the Carrows and Death Eater students? Or did they just view her as a harmless nuisance?
Great job with the description of the cruciatus curse. It was utterly horrible and you managed to capture that well. I really loved the appearance of so many secondary characters. As I said earlier, you have great talents because with each one we got to see their own distinct personality come through.
And my heart just breaks at the very end of it—Asrotia has to rationalize her way out of dealing with her own abuse by convincing herself that it was worse for Ginny. I'm not sure I can effectively debate which is worse - when you don't have any control of your actions or when you have the semblance of control, but must still force yourself to act in order to ensure survival.
Hi Beth! Thank you so much for this review. <3
Haha yeah this is a bit of a long one-shot. *hides* (Though it does make me wonder, how do some people manage to write 6k chapters consistently for multi-chapter fics? It's amazing.) But I'm so glad that it didn't feel long, I wouldn't want to subject anyone to 6k+ words of boredom and irritation, so I'm really happy that you liked it!
I'd actually argue that everything she does in this fic is representative of Slytherin qualities! She's ambitious enough to take on the rescue of DA students entirely on her own, while in my opinion, Gryffindors would join together in a revolution. And what she does is brave, but she wouldn't feel confident enough to do it if she didn't already have a pretty good idea in her abilities to strategize her way out of things. Yeah. All this is just my opinion, of course! (I really like talking about Slytherins apparently.) But I totally agree with you that she definitely had to be more careful in how she handled herself, because her alliances were entirely secret. I'm so happy you like my Astoria! <3
Goyle is indeed a dangerous and stupid. And hahaha I must admit, that pun was entirely unintentional, but I caught it while editing this and was like WHOA. I'm glad that people seem to be enjoying that (accidental) pun!
This story from the DA's point of view would definitely be interesting. It'd probably be a compilation of them feeling confused as to why this Slytherin Pureblood with familial ties to the Carrow regime was helping them haha. I think Neville would be an excellent choice of POV. To answer your questions about the DA, I think they definitely would have realized that she was beneficial to their cause, but they would have been frustrated and confused that she refused to actually join them. They definitely wouldn't have considered her a nuisance, I don't think. Especially in the later lives, when she actually interacted with the people, I think they would've been able to tell that she wanted to help them.
Ahh, yes, the Carrows were the hardest part to write about this. It's not fun to write such a creepy, horrifying pair of (barely) human beings. Or, I should say, it is fun, but also kind of gross at the same time haha. You're right that wartime is hell, and that nothing during war is pretty.
Yeah, Astoria really put herself in a terrible place at the end there. She has a lot to feel guilty for, unfortunately.
Thank you for the review! <3
goyle reflexively going for AK is....so chilling. aaaah, her saving michael corner's life is so good! like, I can totally buy her not wanting goyle to throw AKs around for her own safety but wanting to report actual resistance (whether for blood supremacist reasons or just so she remains in the Carrows' good books) but it's so delightful that she saw michael corner and did nothing.
I love Astoria Greengrass, I've just decided based purely on this fic. I'm writing a thing on Slytherin resistance during 1997 and I hadn't considered having Astoria involved but I think I might have to in homage to this. The way she uses the Carrows to her advantage, her desire to remain as ignorant of the DA as possible, it's so masterfully done! So Slytherin! So perfect!
Man, I can tell this review is not going to be great because 80% of my thoughts are just looking with hearts in my eyes at Astoria Greengrass. The confrontation with Nott and Crabbe is so beautiful! She's so smart and good!!!! And Susan -- oh god, the beautiful way you've painted the image of Susan kissing each of the students on the head, caring for them so much, it absolutely breaks my heart. (I also completely ship Susan/Astoria, you're not fooling me Astoria, "the world's sunniest smile", why are you noticing Hufflepuffs? Which oh no, makes the ending worse, because that's who she thinks of in the last line. She can't possibly be worthy of Susan because she's *not* good, she didn't save Ginny, she actively participated in violating Ginny's bodily autonomy and she knows ultimately at the end of the day it's about living to fight another day, not sacrificing herself for the greater good.
Ooof, " a damp, dank place practically designed to birth human atrocities" is such a good line! Ohhhhhh god, oh god, this kind of violence was the only thing I hadn't considered them doing? Which is, of course, ridiculous, of course they would. And how Astoria made the choice to Imperius Ginny and then being utterly crushed by the knowledge of what she'd done and the trust she'd lost -- I hadn't been paying attention to the fact that this was the life she didn't save, because I am foolish and not good at paying attention, so I had no idea what was coming and ooooh no. It's so good that the other four times, she saved them from literally dying -- but this time, the immediate threat of death isn't there and it's worse. Ginny literally heavily implies that she would have preferred death! So I guess you could interpret it as yes, she did save Ginny from death because the threat of AK is always there, even unstated, but this time perhaps it was the wrong choice? This was the life she shouldn't have saved because some things are worse than death.
Gosh, Eva, this is legit one of the best fics I've ever read, one of my favourite fics ever, I am so glad I read it. ♥
Ugh I know, imagine being taught the Killing Curse to the point where you'd just throw it around like it was nothing. I had a lot of fun writing someone as dumb (but dangerous) as Goyle. Astoria saving Michael was very much a spur-of-the-moment type thing. She knew there would be DA activity, so she was looking out for that, but she didn't know where or how.
Yes omg you should totally try including Astoria! It's always so much fun considering how Astoria fit into the war, especially since she's given such a minor, minor role in the original books. I love writing Slytherins for that exact reason; you get to write these brilliant and crafty characters who think out every escape plan in great detail. They'll come up with these strategies to achieve their goals but also make sure to have back-up plans. DO IT. (Though haha I must admit I am neither crafty nor strategic so writing Astoria was extremely difficult lmao.)
I'm so glad that you like Astoria so much! The scenes with Neville and Susan were definitely my favorites to write, I had so much fun with those. Yes, to Astoria, Susan is like this beacon of goodness and love, and she's like the ultimate goal, so she thinks back to Susan back at the end there. (Can you tell I love Susan a lot?) Haha I ship Astoria/Susan a lot, too!
What Astoria did at the end...isn't the greatest thing. I've loved hearing everyone's opinions on the matter; everyone reads into it a little differently, and that's what I love about reading your reviews! Her actions are pretty controversial. No, you pay attention really well! Your thoughts on Astoria's actions are really well thought-out, and you bring up a lot of interesting points. In this last one, yeah, it's pretty terrible. Carrow might have killed Ginny if Astoria hadn't stepped in like that, but that's the thing, Astoria couldn't be sure. Because what if she had undone Ginny's bindings and let the two fight against Carrow? What would've happened then? Like, there's no real way to tell, and I think the worst part is that Astoria made that choice for Ginny. But it's always really, really hard to say, because if she'd let that possibility happen of Ginny dying, then who knows how badly the DA would've been affected?
That's such an amazing compliment omg, thank you so so much. I had a lot of fun responding to your review. <3
Hey there, Eva! Dropping by for our review swap! :)
So I've seen this story around before but never read it, so I was so glad to get a chance to now :) Although I have to admit before I start the review that I did kinda skim-read the last bit of that last section, because it's not something I would deal with reading very well atm, so I hope you don't mind that :P
I love how you deal with the war in this. It's harsh, it's brutal, it's impossibly destructive and mindless, and there's a very real toll being taken on everyone in this by it, whatever that happens to be - the war doesn't happen outside of this story, it's there and every character in this, from the first years Neville and Susan try to protect to Astoria and the Carrows themselves, is a soldier. And that's horrific. But war is horrific, that's the reality, and you capture the horror and the fear and the ugly, personal violence of it - and how easily some people fall into inflicting violence and eating up the propaganda - so so well. It's hard to do, but you made it seem so easy in this, and so almost simply put.
The language you use in this, through all of the description to Astoria's inner voice to the dialogue the characters use between themselves (especially when Astoria is talking to Crabbe and Goyle and Nott) just evokes that kind of solemnity and constant violence so harshly, but so beautifully. It brings the whole thing to life, and the way it runs through everything - from the threats Astoria gives to the other Slytherins, to the fear they have about Snape and hurting 'their own', to the actual violences committed throughout this, even to the way Astoria thinks about other people - it gives this whole impression that everything at Hogwarts has turned upside down. It's also just so emotional and evocative and it gives all of this, despite being 6k long, such an incredibly pacy feeling - it marches you through, almost, to the last section, where it slows down. It's a different kind of violence, and the slower pace evokes that, yk?
Your Astoria is amazing. She's so real and so fully-formed, and she has such a strong voice and sense of self which resonates throughout this whole thing. This story is hers, in a way which is so hard to do because it's difficult, yk, to give a stoy a completely unique, all-encompassing voice, but you've done it here and it works so so well. It also makes her so compelling - with how she doesn't know why she's intervening, protecting the DA, but she is nonetheless; how she's so clever and cunning and brave; how she thinks of herself as ultimately selfish, defending herself, which isn't entirely true. It's remarkable, honestly - it's been a while since I've seen a character so good.
This is an amazing story. I wish I could write more to do it justice, but I don't know what else to say - it's an incredible story, the kind you know will linger with you for a while, and it's such a horrificly beautiful tribute to war and the realities of it. You write it so terrifyingly well, and with such grace and solemnity that it never slips into being gratuituous or seeming far-fetched. Everything about this is real and true and has a gravity to it which stays through the whole thing and that's so so hard to do.
You smashed this. Completely. It's amazing.
Laura omg I don't even know where to begin <3
Your review was amazing for a number of reasons, but most of all I love how unique it is. I loved hearing your thoughts on the depiction of the war, and the language I used, and how I characterized Astoria. Thank you so much for your kind words, I'm so happy that you wrote me such a wonderful review. (And once again, I want to apologize for not giving a proper warning about the last section.) <3
Wars and genocides have these huge psychological questions linked to them that no one seems to be able to answer. Why is it that everyday, ordinary civilians can turn on each other so easily? Why is it that anyone, young or old, can pick up a weapon and become a desensitized mass murderer just because the government is putting forth propaganda against a certain group of people? I'm really glad you brought up how horrific war is, and not only how it affects and destroys the lives of the victims (which is nauseating enough), but that the perpetrators inflict violence so so easily. I feel like Nott is the best example of this, where he certainly harbored prejudices before but would never have even thought of himself trying to murder other students at Hogwarts...but then once the war started, he began beating up everyone around him.
Ahhh thank you so much for all your compliments, I just. I'm so happy hearing these things from you <3
Astoria is one of my favorite characters I've written, which is why I'm always so relieved whenever other people seem to find her as fascinating as I do, so thank you. Her motivations are simple and clear, to the point where she, as a Slytherin who's used to long strategic methods of thought, can't understand why she's doing this. She's going to struggle with what she did for the longest time, unfortunately, haha.
This review could make me cry from happiness, and I just wanted to end this response with another thank you, because your words mean so much to me. <3
Eva. Eva. EVA. Excuse you, okay?
[Also, hi! I'm here for the March 'Puff review swap]
So I've been really excited to read this story after seeing that it was nominated (and won!) story of the month this month, and I'm so glad I did, because omg. THIS WAS SO FREAKING GOOD, and horrifying, and everything I expect in a Deathly Hallows missing moment.
I absolutely love the way you characterized Astoria. From her swearing to her unyielding dtermintionation, I really grew to love her in this piece. I also adored the format here; the breaking up of each life was a brilliant way to pass through time, and you spent just enough time on each of them with such great detail. I think what I loved most, though, was that Astoria didn't really have a reason for doing what she did; she didn't know why she was saving those people, she just was, and it was so, so heartbreaking that no one could come to save her when the time came for it.
Okay, now I'm gonna go into a little more detail about each part.
I loved seeing her interaction with Goyle here; that she was this smart sixteen year old who just had no patience or tolerance for his idiocy and wasn't afraid to let him know it. I'm horrified that the Killing Curse was being taught at Hogwarts, but not surprised; we only get small glimpses of what happened in the books, but I'm officially accepting this fic as canon, because it was just that good and realistic and belivable and horrible and just. Ugh. I could imagine how confused Michael must have been when Astoria saved him, but I liked that you didn't linger on his reaction for too long. He knew, and she knew, and that was all that mattered.
And damn, Astoria knows how to play the Carrows -- I think that's what I loved so much about this fic. She's so clever and quick thinking, and it shows when she thinks about her lies and her excuses, like the blanket she used to cover Lavender's body, and all of the reasons she could be going to see Madame Pomfrey. At first I thought the Carrows had Ginny when Astoria learned that the captive was a she, but Lavendere also makes sense, and I like how you used more than just the key members of the DA here. It was a horrifying time for everyone, and this fic really shows that.
And omg, Neville trying to protect the children! My HEART, Eva. I'm glad he finally caught onto her plan and that they were able to separate themselves from Nott and Goyle; and that Astoria used her sister's relationship with Nott as leverage to buy them time, because it makes so much sense. And I couldn't help but chuckle when she was berating them for fighting the Muggle way and not like real wizards; that would be a deep blow to any Pureblood, and it just made so much sense.
AAAAND then we get to Susan and Astoria, and I love how she just sort of waltzed forward, knowing that Pansy was probably going to break off the curse if she knew that Astoria had walked into it. And Susan seems like such a wonderful person; I loved the imagery of her smile being like the sun, and her acting like an older sister to those poor, horrified children. I feel like you often think about what it was like for Ginny and Seamus and Dean because they're the characters people often write fic about -- but not about the children, the babies, who were in their first and second years in the Carrows' reign. And it makes so much sense to me that all of the professors [McGonagall, Flitwick] were teaching Defense. And I loved that we had a bit of an interaction with Susan and Astoria in that section, too-- I think I mentioned this before, but it was great how Susan asked her why she was doing this and Astoria didn't have a good answer, and I loved Susan's speculations. I would love to see their alliance/friendship grow from this moment, because they seem to have bonded. And Susan got her to laugh! In such dark times like these, that's so important.
And then we get to the last section. And I sort of had a feeling where it was going, but still, it was something that yet again made so much sense despite how horrifying and tragic it was. Of all the lives Astoria saved, and despite the fact that Ginny was there, no one could save her. I just wanted to hug her and give her a cup of tea, because she seemed like that's what she needed. And just, ugh. It was so revolting, but you wrote it so, so well.
That's what I loved the most about this piece, Eva. The writing was so strong, it was like it was scenes cut directly from the book. I could picture everything and your language was so, so powerful, and your characterization is spot-on. I just. I loved everything about this, and I could talk about how much I love this fic forever, but I might be running out of space in this review soon.
So. This was amazing, and it definitely deserves more recongition -- but still, congratulations on winning Story of the Month!
Amazing job. I'm really blown away. ♥
This review honestly gives me so much joy and happiness, and reading it again in order to respond to it just made me smile so much, so thank you. I love hearing your opinions on my stories, since I love your writing so much, and this just gave me a good mood for a week after you posted it. Reading your thoughts and interpretations on Astoria was also super interesting for me.
As I wrote this I was thinking about what Hogwarts would possibly be like. I've been taking a class about the genocides in world history, and the worst in people are always, always brought out in times like these. And if I recall correctly, we witness Draco's cronies unabashedly use the Killing Curse in the final battle in The Deathly Hallows, which made me feel certain that the Killing Curse was very regularly taught as an appropriate response to threats. So I think that Goyle is an idiot and would totally throw Killing Curses at whatever he's afraid of haha.
And I'm so so glad that you think Astoria's actually clever! It was such a struggle writing her, so whenever someone compliments her, I feel so happy that I'd dance if I could. I definitely wanted to focus on a few minor characters of the DA in this fic, because I like thinking about characters other than the ones that everyone's familiar with. Lavender's one of my favorites to muse about. I wanted to save Ginny for the last life.
I LOVE NEVILLE WITH ALL MY HEART. I feel like he would have sacrificed himself many times over if he could, as long as it meant the children of Hogwarts would be able to survive another day. I'm sure that somewhere deep inside Astoria, she'd appreciate his dedication to his cause, but her logical brain's like, "What an idiot lmao. Dead men save no lives." Astoria would honestly probably actually find her sister's relationship with Theodore Nott cute were it not for the fact that he went around beating up children and DA members, so there's that. She has a deep personal loathing of him haha.
Writing this section gave me the most joy. I myself adore Susan with all my heart, and that probably bled through quite clearly in Astoria's point of view haha. (And I'm glad that you liked the little detail of the teachers foregoing their usual classes to teach the students how to defend themselves.) But yes, I loved writing the interactions between Susan and Astoria, because this is like the only happy moment Astoria gets in this whole one-shot. I definitely began shipping these two after writing this, because, I mean, Susan got Astoria to laugh, and you're right, that it's incredibly important.
This last scene is actually the one that inspired this whole fic. While I was in school and getting lunch, I was musing about Astoria, as you do, and the first thought that popped into my head was that she once saved Ginny's life, but in a manner so twisted and dark through the Imperius Curse that it really wasn't rewarding for her at all. And from there, I figured out the other lives, the ones that she saved with a little more grace, and that's when I worked out the details of the fifth life, of Carrow abusing his power to get to Astoria.
I'm really glad that you liked my characterization of Astoria!
Thank you so much, I could never thank you enough for this beautiful review. <3
Eva! It is I, Maggie. Hello :p
UH, OKAY. Excuse me while I just go process my feelings right now because I am VERY emotional now, thank you very much. I’m in pain. Okay, so just like a brief overview of my thoughts to start: I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved this – despite the PAIN the end of it caused me. Just… those last two lines. “No, Susan. I do what’s best, but selfless? No. Don’t delude yourself. That night, Astoria cried until she couldn’t breathe” ALRIGHT. Just take my heart and soul, they’re yours now.
In all seriousness, I loved this. And I’m gonna go into more details about my love for each part now. I hope there isn’t a character limit on here.
the first life
This was honestly just the perfect way to start out the story. I love how we see Astoria appearing to be like the stereotypical Slytherin, acting haughty and mean. Even the way you write her in the beginning makes her seem like she’s loyal to the Carrows (like that part where she’s thinking it doesn’t hurt to remain focused) but we also get her inner thoughts that show that she isn’t. She clearly thinks Goyle is just dumb and stupid (I mean, which he is).
I like the touches of humor that you have in this first part, it’s woven in naturally with Astoria’s thoughts that it doesn’t break the flow of the narrative. I guess it’s sort of like a grim humor? I guess. I mean her thoughts on Goyle made me like crack a smile because I can just imagine her walking beside Goyle just thinking, “he’s so stupid,” repeatedly in her head the whole time.
That little scene where you reveal that it was Michael Corner that she saved was, ugh, so good. It was really simple. I think that’s what’s so good about it. She just notices Michael in the shadows with a look of surprise on his face then she just like acknowledges him and leaves. I think this starts to show who she is as a person, like she doesn’t demand recognition or anything or a thank you. This tied the whole section together nicely.
the second life
I think this is really where I started to fall in love with your Astoria. We saw in the first part that Astoria is different from the other Slytherin Prefects, she purposefully saved Michael Corner’s life, but in this one she deliberately goes out of her way to save Lavender’s life. Astoria knows what would happen to her if she’s caught, yet despite that she helps Lavender and heals her.
I was tearing up when I was reading this section, just the way that Astoria handled the situation and her interactions with Lavender gave me so many feelings. When Lavender opened her eyes and looked up at Astoria with that flicker of fear I wanted to cry, but then I felt some pride for her when she had that “stubbornness to an almost stupid degree.” (I was like, “that’s my girl!)
I found the way Astoria handled this interesting in that is shows she can think relatively quickly on her feet. There weren’t any other options for her to go with so faking Lavender’s death was the best choice (it also gives a good explanation for why Lavender was hiding out in the room of requirement. Because, you know, if the Carrows thought she was dead she obviously couldn’t go walking around Hogwarts).
the third life
I have a hard time deciding whether this one or the next one with Susan Bones is my favorite little chapter. First, I love Astoria’s new and improved version of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, it fits so well with what her personality is. That made me laugh, which is good (very good) because Oh BOY, does it start to get really heavy at this point. I mean, just so heavy.
I mean I’ve already said this before, but I was almost crying while I was reading the beginning of this section. Like, you know from reading the seventh book that things were awful at Hogwarts for the whole year and just how evil the Carrows are, but since Harry’s not there during that time we kind of lose some of the emotion from it so it like doesn’t hurt as much. But seeing Astoria describing was like a punch to the gut, like when she describes them as mere babies I was GONE.
And with this part I just fall even more in love with Astoria. The composure that it must take for her to be able to walk the corridors without betraying her true feelings on the matter and the way she heals the children as she walks by them. Eva, PLEASE, you’re hurting me. “the tiny, tiny bodies” or “usually the babies were gone.” I’m sad.
Now onto the part with Astoria and Neville! First, I really love how you portray Neville. Neville is one of my all-time favorite characters in general, so I mean I need to talk about him. You portray him perfectly, just the way that Neville is selflessly protecting that group of second years despite the fact that he’s hopelessly physically outmatched by Crabbe and Theodore Nott. Again, the just ever so slight hint of humor when Astoria is thinking that Neville is possibly more moronic than Goyle (I mean, is she wrong? Not really, but that’s why we love Neville – because of his, “not really thinking it through hero complex”).
Again, I think the way Astoria chooses to handle this shows her quick wit; she can think on her feet very well. I also love how she steps forward to stop Crabbe and Nott before she even has a plan formed in her mind – it shows that she truly cares, I think. Like she’s willing to possibly sacrifice herself to save Neville and the children (though, if they saw right through her act it would have been in vain). That or she’d confident in her abilities to come up with a plan, which she should be because she’s good at it.
I love how her way of distracting Crabbe and Nott from Neville is to say they’re fighting the Muggle way. It works perfectly, it makes so much sense for a “loyal Student Death Eater” to berate Crabbe and Nott for fighting the Muggle way. It’s the perfect way to have her save Neville and the children while also keeping up her cover.
Also, I’m glad Neville caught on to her plan and grabbed the wands from behind her back. The dynamic that you have written between Astoria and Neville actually kinda makes me want to see some sort of like tentative friendship between them explored. And I mean, they don’t really interact that much - it’s just in this one part – but I think the fact you made me want to see a friendship with them explored is the mark of a good writer so.
Alright, I’m gonna cut myself off here because my like “mini” review for this section is like a full page in word…
The fourth life
The part the is tied with the previous one as my favorite! Alright, so? I am not sure if this was your intention or not (but also I spied an Astoria/Susan fic on your page that I’m 100% got my eyes on for the future) but this made my low-key (HIGH-KEY) ship them. Like, yeah, not sure if that’s what you meant to do… but ya did. So *shrugs*.
This was just… I don’t even know where to begin, I have so many (good, very good) thoughts about this. I’ll start with Susan (and how Astoria views Susan *eyes emoji*). I LOVE Susan, she’s the embodiment of a Hufflepuff (HUFFLEPUFFS FTW amiright). She’s just so sweet with the way she interacts with the group of third years. The way she goes from being fiercely protective of the kids to reassuring them – hugging them and kissing the tops of their heads – is just so Hufflepuff and I looove.
As for Astoria… I have many feelings about the fact that she basically only has completely glowing things to think about Susan. Like how Susan has, “world’s sunniest smile, the wickedest sense of humor, and the most lovable disposition anyone could possess.” *cough* She totally has a crush on Susan. *cough* (What? Don’t mind me). Anyway…
So. Astoria just, without thinking, taking the Cruciatus Cruse for Susan. Let me just pick this apart and share all the FEELINGS I have for this. What I really like about this is that I think it really shows how Astoria feels, she does this without thinking, which means she’s so horrified by the idea of Pansy torturing – for fun – such a sweet, kind, loveable person like Susan that her body is almost like? Going on autopilot? Like she’s just so horrified by that and disgusted by this that she take the Curse for Susan without thinking about the consequences. And I think that’s just so raw. Excuse me, I’m fine. I’m just emotional.
Now, the interactions you have between Susan and Astoria. Love. First, Susan taking care of Astoria even though she was under the Cruciatus Curse for longer than Astoria had been shows the utter strength that Susan has (also that Hufflepuff loyalty!). I just really love (I’m overusing that word, probably, but it’s true) the conversation that they have when they’re behind the tapestry. Susan saying she thinks Astoria is one of those selfless types!!!! So many feelings over that.
I’ve said this before already, but I’ll say it again. You really do a good job of adding the humor in with such a heavy plot. It definitely keeps me from being too sad. The part where Susan is like, “so a simultaneous eff you and thanks I guess.” I really liked that, it made me laugh. And when Astoria laughed and was like “It felt good.” UGH, FEELINGS!!!
the fifth life
Alright. Definitely the heaviest little section of your fic, but still so good. I mean, it made me sad. SO SAD. Like… really sad. Have I mentioned at all in this review yet how much I hate Carrow? Because I really do, super gross and creepy. I was shuddering every time he called Astoria “pet.” Which was probably the point, so good job.
This whole thing was very well written. I think you handled writing a topic like this very well and considering how it’s written I don’t think I can even see Astoria going a different route in order to protect Ginny. She was really just backed into a corner because of the situation she was in.
I came so close to crying the entire fic. But this last portion was really the part that did it for me, like I actually cried (thanks for that, I’m glad I wasn’t wearing any makeup). The whole conversation part between Astoria and Ginny just tore me up.
“In Ginny’s eyes was the bitter disillusionment of a person who watched someone fall from grace before their eyes. This judgment, coming from a girl whose moral backbone was made of iron, made Astoria feel a shame so deep she could fall forever and never reach the bottom.
Excuse you. DO you Mind??? Ow?? I just… that hurt so much. That, coupled with the “And some people would rather see the heroes live so save another day.” I think that line from Astoria shows how much of a high regard she has for Ginny, which makes the rest of this so painful. The absolute guilt that Astoria feels over what happened to Ginny because, yeah, she saved Ginny’s life, but she also (indirectly?) caused something horrible to happen.
And last, but not least, the absolute last straw for me – in which I had to take a deep breath, look away from my laptop screen, and just stare at the wall for like a solid ten minutes while I asked myself if I was okay (I am, but oh wow the pain). No, Susan. I do what’s best, but selfless?
“No. Don’t delude yourself. That night, Astoria cried until she couldn’t breathe.”
That’s it! I’m done, I don’t think I can even explain how I feel about that. Other than the fact that I cried and I was emotional. Which is a good thing of course, because I love to suffer when I read fanfiction. So good job, excellent work, thanks for hurting me.
In all seriousness. This was a really excellent fic. It gave me so many feelings and I probably went completely overboard because my review is like a bit over 2000 words and 3 ½ pages on word. Oops. I don’t have any CC really, your writing is beautiful. The only comment I have in that regard is this sentence: “Astoria said, “Just because you can’t last one second of the curse without doesn’t mean everyone else is as feeble.” It might just be me (and its very likely that it is) I feel like there might be a missing word? Or I’m not reading the sentence correctly or maybe the word without doesn’t belong there? I’m not sure. But yeah, that’s really the only CC I have.
This fic was just so good <3
Maggie omg <3
I don't even know how to begin responding to this incredible review. A review over two thousand words has to be some sort of record-breaker, right? Mostly I'm just incredibly amused because I remember finding it difficult during the Winter Wonderland event to type reviews longer than 750 characters, and here you are typing 13,000 character reviews. (Yes, I entered it into a word counter, because I was so amazed and happy and just absolutely delighted at the wondrous review you gifted me.)
So here I go. Thank you for putting so much time and effort into this review, thank you so so much. And I apologize if I caused you too much pain, hahaha.
THE FIRST LIFE:
My favorite part after writing this story has to be seeing everyone's different reactions to Astoria and her motivations. Your thoughts on Astoria were so interesting to read, which is part of why I love your review so much. I actually think that Astoria perfectly fits the mold of the stereotypical Slytherin, even after we discover she's on the side of the DA. We know the stereotypical Slytherins as generally brutally honest, proud, and haughty, and since I think that Jo twisted these characteristics to their worst form sometimes, I wanted to write a Slytherin with these same characteristics that uses them in a better way.
Honestly, insulting Goyle was the best part of writing this. I'm sure everyone and their mother thinks that Goyle is a complete and utter idiot, and Astoria is certainly no different lmao. The humor was added as a way to lighten the mood a little bit, with the darker images to come in later sections. It's not the happiest kind of humor, so I think you're right about it being a grim humor.
THE SECOND LIFE:
In the first life, she's definitely more passive. Someone was about to do something stupid, and she just directed their attention elsewhere. So I agree with you here that she takes a more active role in saving the life of Lavender (who I have such a soft spot for haha). Astoria believes with all her heart that what she's doing is not only the right thing but the best thing, which is why she puts herself through so much to get her tasks accomplished.
I actually played around with a few different ideas of how Astoria would save Lavender, and in the end, I decided faking Lavender's death was the most effective way of fooling the Carrows. But Astoria made this conclusion immediately because, unlike me, she's gifted at coming up with strategies and plans on the spot, haha. (And that's what I was thinking, too, that after this incident, Lavender wouldn't venture out of the Room of Requirement as much. I think there would be certain situations where she wouldn't be able to help herself, but for the most part, she tried to keep quiet.)
THE THIRD LIFE:
I'm chuckling as I'm responding to this section, because your review for this section alone is longer than my average review, like I'm still absolutely astounded by the amount of work you put into this. I'll never stop thanking you, because I feel truly, truly blessed to have been on the receiving end of your reviews haha. (This section is tied with Susan's as my favorite, as well! I just enjoyed writing these two sections so much, and getting to explore Astoria's mind a lot more.)
Right? I feel like there's so much that can be explored about what happened during Harry's missing year. And since this whole series is about the lead-up and events of a full genocide, I thought that things at Hogwarts would be terrible to an unbelieving degree. The Carrows would definitely abuse their power, and they would easily convince the older Pureblood students to join in as well, and from there on, anyone who wasn't a Pureblood would be in serious danger. They wouldn't show mercy on the little children, either. Those are just my thoughts on how things at Hogwarts came to be.
I love Neville, too! Just the thought of him fills me up with absolute joy, and I'm two hundred percent convinced that he would be the type of person to stupidly protect kids until his dying breath. Here I think is the main different between Astoria and Neville, where she reasons that keeping Neville alive to save more children over the course of the year is better than letting Neville die saving this small group of children now. And so she thinks Neville is the dumbest idiot for not understanding this, but Neville's Neville, haha.
Yeah, Astoria definitely panicked at the thought that her window of opportunity was closing. The longer she let Neville keep fighting them on his own, the higher chance he was going to die. So even though it was extremely risky for both her and Neville for her to just step in like that without a fully formulated plan, she did it anyway. Thank goodness that Astoria has a quicker mind than me, though, otherwise everyone in this story would be dead lmao. When I finally hit upon this solution for the situation, I was like "YES" because it felt like the absolute perfect way to berate Crabbe and Nott without blowing her cover.
Oh, my goodness, I'm so glad you liked the dynamic between them! I would love to write a little one-shot about more of their interactions, but I have a giant backlog of ideas right now that need to be put down to paper, haha. Maybe in the future. Keep poking me!
THE FOURTH LIFE:
Hahaha I've already told you about the happy accident that was writing this section. I'm half in love with the character Susan Bones myself, and I guess my love for her bled through into Astoria's thoughts, because when I reread it I was just like WHAT OH MY GOSH. I'm so happy that there are so many people shipping them, like?? It's such a random pairing, but I'm so happy that people seem to be liking it! :D
Susan is the best Hufflepuff ever. I aspire to be her. It's so hard writing someone like Susan, who's supposed to be genuinely funny and not like grimly humorous like Astoria, haha. Anyway, I just felt that Susan would be the absolute most protective seventh year working with the DA, and she would literally fling herself off a cliff if it meant these children would be okay haha.
Hehe Astoria really has an entire list of compliments about Susan, and she thinks so highly of Susan based on what she's seen around Hogwarts throughout the years. I think knowing that Susan is such a good person is what made her stop thinking for a moment, and step into the path of the Cruciatus Curse. Really, I just felt sad while writing this part, because as fierce and wonderful as Susan is, I think this final Cruciatus Curse, if Pansy had continued to cast it on her, would have caused her body so much pain that it would've just given up.
I'm glad that this story didn't make you feel too too sad. I loved writing the end scene to this life. <3
THE FIFTH LIFE:
Yeah, Carrow is a pretty nauseating, disgusting human being, and I hated him each second I was writing him. This last life was such a huge struggle to write, and I'm really, really glad you liked it and thought I handled everything well. I think that there is a lot of conflict over what Astoria did to Ginny in the end, but needless to say, she didn't really take Ginny's opinion into consideration while casting the Imperius Curse.
Oh, I'm so so glad that you liked the ending lines. It was so hard trying to figure out how to end this.
Thank you a million times over for giving me a review so wonderful. Thank you so much. <3
Five lives. Five souls that would have otherwise passed beyond the Veil without her interception. Five glimpses into Astoria. It’s interesting, both in content and in presentation. I’m curious as to why you opted to do five segments instead of weaving one fluid narrative from start to finish. They do build one upon the other but I feel there could have been more between those glimpses.
The F*wit-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? What a memorable and snarky variation to Voldemort’s venerated title. Instant classic! It’s a perfect foil for the darker portion of this tale. There is a balance you strike so well, going from sarcastic humor to the utter twistedness of Carrow.
The only thing more twisted is that it’s Ginny who fell victim to the Imperius Curse. After suffering through Tom Riddle during her second year? Deliciously dark!
Overall this has to be one of my new favorite dark tale. Thank you for such a treat!
A Visitor from Dunwall
I would just like to say that your review is better written than like all of my WIPs right now lmao. Your first three sentences would make for a much better story summary than my own hahaha (which reminds me, I need to work on writing good summaries whoops).
Your point is extremely valid, and I can definitely see a story in which I fill in the in-betweens to create a continuous tale. What I wanted, though, was to have a clear beginning and end to each life, from when the setup to when the life is saved. I also wanted to highlight the differences in the clearest way possible. But I really appreciate your feedback, thank you. <3
If I hadn't written Astoria as a snarky, sarcastic character, writing this story would have been so grim and saddening for me, haha. It already was, with the contents of the last life. (It is really unfortunate that Ginny and Astoria fell into this situation, isn't it? Poor Ginny, she's suffered a lot already.) Once again, I'm so so happy you like the sarcastic humor.
Thank you, that's such a huge compliment. I really loved this review. <3
I actually read this last night but didn't leave a review straight away, and I'm so glad I didn't. Now that I've slept on it and had more time to think about this story, the more I appreciate it.
I seriously adore these 4 plus 1 stories and this is going to be one of my favourites across all fandoms. Seriously, you've done such an amazing job on this story, Eva! It's beautiful and sinister and powerful and horrifying all at once.
I loved Astoria's character. It took me a little while to understand her, but that was probably your intention. She was a bit of a paradox during the first life, because she was coming off as very mean and haughty, but she saved a life on purpose. But it slowly became clear that she was fighting to fit in with the other Slytherin purebloods. What I'd love to know more of is her motivations, and how they started. Did she not join the DA purely because she wanted to stay safe? Was it because she wanted to stay in her parents' good graces? Apart from that, Astoria very quickly became someone I admired and respected and really enjoyed reading about.
Each life she saved was absolutely interesting to read, so there's no way you need to worry about that. Each one raised the stakes and uncovered the horrors of living at Hogwarts during the war. I loved how clever Astoria was to be able to save the lives of the DA without blowing her cover. She put herself in danger quite a bit, even suffering at the hand of curses llike during the fourth life.
And the fifth. Oh my goodness the fifth. I LOVE how you wrote it, how it's like, yes she saved a physical life, but what about the emotional side? I'm going to be so useless right now and tell you that I honestly can't put my thoughts into words. That scene was just disgusting and horrid but so powerful. We saw Astoria live with the the two most painful and deadly curses but really the most painful and deadly is the loss of control and will. That's what's terrifying.
I enjoyed this sooo much Eva. I'm quickly becoming a fan of your writing. You have really original ideas and the express them so beautifull. Believe me when I say that this story is going to stick with me for a very long time.
I have no words for how happy this review made me. I've probably thought about this review at least once a day, and each time, it made me feel loads happier, so thank you so much for writing this. I really, really appreciate it, thank you. You've given me so many wonderful compliments in this, I'm so flattered and giddy.
When I first came up with this idea, I was thinking, "Astoria would probably work for the right side, but would be willing to do and say some horrible things to get there." So yes, her character is rather muddy in terms of her ideologies and motivations. Personally, I think that Astoria rather enjoys being in the position of power that's granted to most Slytherin purebloods, and she doesn't want to have to sneak around more than she already does -- and these two reasons are largely why she doesn't wish to join the DA. Which is rather self-serving of her. The reason why she saves all these lives, though, is simply because she disagrees with the Carrows and Voldemort. I'm glad you liked her as a character, though.
Whew, that's a relief to hear. I was hoping that each life would be more tense than the last, so I'm glad to hear that's been accomplished somewhat haha.
Ahh thank you so much omg. I'm always going to believe that the Imperius Curse is far worse than the other two curses, even though Jo always focused her attention more on the other two Unforgivables. So I think that Astoria probably hurt Ginny permanently by saving her this way. This scene was one of the worst to write, because I just made myself feel disgusted and horrible while writing this, so I'm glad that the tone came out properly.
Thank you for this wonderful, wonderful review! <3
Hey, Eva, dear! Here with your review! :)
I will review one section at a time, let's see how it works... :P
I love your interpretation of Astoria, so witty and sassy, those are my favourite characters. :P You can tell that she isn't happy with how things are managed now, I'm wondering what are her ideas about the war, Muggleborns etc. It isn't quite clear, and obviously she isn't openly against the regime, or she wouldn't be holding her Prefect position to begin with. But then, again, she might just be pretending to support Voldemort while secretly despising his agenda, it wouldn't surprise me.
Anyway... I love her thoughts and how she considers Goyle and the Carrows just immature. They really are. They are other things, too, but I need to keep a polite language, right? Anyway, the idea that Prefects would go around throwing Killing Curses at random is just terrifying, and Goyle is truly horrible. Astoria's promptness of spirit in deflecting Goyle's curse and then making it sound she did him a favour was so great. I wouldn't have had the wits. You sure she isn't a Ravenclaw? I loved that brief looks exchange with Matthew, too. I could totally picture the whole scene.
wow, that was such a brave thing to do! Once again I really admire her wit and I love following her reasoning. The way she manages to stay collected and pretend to do and think the exact opposite she's doing and thinking... she's wonderful, and the Carrows are such idiots to trust her so blindly... of course it is a matter of money and favours... the Greengrasses must be an influent family. The way she rescued Lavender was brilliant, anyway.
This young man, who'd lost his childhood pudge and embraced his role in the new Hogwarts, was possibly even more moronic than Goyle. This made me chuckle. Poor Neville... but I can see what she means... such a Slytherin-y thought process, so practical. :P
The idea that first-years would picked over just for fun and boredom is so awful, but so believable for the time and what we know of it. I think you give such a great picture of how life in Hogwarts during the Carrow's year would be like. (This refers to all sections, of course. And I love the pictures you have presented us so far. Also, you have really lovely description.)
Once again, I'm impressed by the way she managed the situation and how well she improvised. Bringing her sister in the conversation and criticizing the two Slytherins for their lack of decor. It's genius.
I like that she actually had more of an interaction with the person she rescued this time. I guess that I can see why she doesn't want to be directly involved, even if I'm wondering if there's more to it... guess I will find out later in case... Anyway I loved to imagine that unilateral conversation, it's so interesting.
and this is why Hufflepuffs are the best! Susan is such a sweetheart, she's just so Pufftastic-ly lovely. What Pansy did... it's just awful and so completely uncalled for and... :( I can't believe Astoria just stepped in that way and that once again she got away with it. If an instant of the Cruciatus curse is so unbearable, I wonder what it is like to suffer through a prolonged one... Actually, I don't think I want to know...
I love that they could share a laugh over it. They actually bonded, sort of, and it's just so nice to see. Now I'm really curious about the fifth life... and a tiny bit scared as well...
oh, my god! I'm not sure I have the right words for this, this was so horrible and terrifying and... I'm just not sure what to say... Carrow is such a monster. This is so horrible (yes, I know, I'm repeating myself... I think my mind got a bit shortcircuited...) Personally, I can't really blame Astoria for what she did, she only tried to do what she thought was safest in that moment of complete panic. But the idea of the Imperius Curse, of a person completely losing any control over themselves, their bodies and actions, is terrible. And I guess for Ginny especially, if you think about what she went through with Riddle's diary her first year. So, yes, while I don't feel like condemning Astoria, what she did was horrible... but really, I just want to strangle Carrow right now.
Okay, I guess this came out a bit too long... also, I think I've rambled a bit too much at the end... Anyway, I think this was just perfect! Your writing is lovely, the scenes you picture are so vivid and well defined, your characterization of Astoria and everyone else just lovely. And you did a wonderful job in portraying what might have happened during that year, the horrors the Hogwarts' students had been subjected to and the Death Eaters' cruelness. It was all just perfect, I can't think of any CC, honestly.
Thank you for requesting, I loved reading this. <3
Huge snowball hug,
Thank you for leaving such detailed thoughts on each chapter, I couldn't have possibly asked for more in a review. <3
Astoria was my absolute favorite character to write so far, so I'm so happy that you liked her! Really made my day. Her motives are definitely unclear and vague, especially in that first section, and I'm really glad you picked up on that! The Carrows definitely wouldn't let anyone who openly disagreed with them be a part of the Prefects. She definitely is simply pretending to support Voldemort (which gets made clearer in the later sections, obviously haha), and works against him most of the time, but she's not perfect. Her thoughts about Crabbe and Goyle were so much fun to write (and that's okay, even though you didn't use the specific insults I know exactly which ones you're talking about). You're actually the second person to ask if Astoria should be a Ravenclaw! She's certainly smart and picks up information well, but I don't think she's as willing to learn as a Ravenclaw. Most of her "wits" comes from being able to think relatively quickly on her feet, and to be able to slap together something resembling a strategic plan in times of panic, and to me, those are the traits of a Slytherin.
The Greengrass family is one that I want to explore further, in terms of their wealth, their involvement in the war, their relationship with everyone in the family, etc. But yes, they were rich and donated a lot of money to the Voldemort regime, and more specifically, the Carrows at Hogwarts (which probably soured Astoria's feelings towards her parents a little bit, haha). I'm really glad you liked the way that she saved Lavender's life. This was one of the most difficult to write for me, so it's such a huge relief to hear that it turned out all right in the end.
Hahaha, Astoria's not terribly fond of Neville. She has nothing against him, of course, but when she sees him doing something stupid, she definitely won't hesitate to insult him for hit. I've always wondered a lot about the year at Hogwarts that we don't get to see in Harry's perspective. Like, to what extend did the DA do their duty? How many people did the Carrows target? Who were they willing to hurt? That sort of thing. So I wrote down all my ideas into this fic, of the children being targeted, because I do think that the Carrows were that horrible. (Thank you so much for the compliments. <3) I have a lot of mixed thoughts on Daphne Greengrass (but that's a story for another time lol). Astoria used her sister's name to her advantage here, haha.
I thought a lot about whether Astoria would properly join the DA or not, and in the end, I decided that she wouldn't. Partially for strategic reasons, because if she joins, then there's a higher chance that she'll get caught working with them, and she'll lose all the privileges that allow her to save their lives. Partially because, well...she enjoys the safety from her privileges, and she doesn't want to lose that.
HUFFLEPUFFS ARE IN FACT THE BEST. I looove Susan, like, a lot. This scene inspired so many different thoughts about where Astoria and Susan's relationship could go. But yes, the Cruciatus Curse must be excruciating. I can barely tolerate a prick to my foot, let alone a spell designed for torture. I think Pansy would be so completely unaware of Astoria's "betrayal" of the cause that she wouldn't even consider that Astoria stepped into the curse on purpose.
I don't have much to say about the fifth life. People seem to be fairly conflicted over what Astoria did, whether she should've, whether she shouldn't've, whether it was the right thing to do, whether she should've dealt with the situation in another way, etc. I like hearing your thoughts on this, it's incredibly interesting. I do think that the Imperius Curse is the absolute worst thing to happen to anyone (and imagine the horrible things that someone can do to you while you're under the Imperius Curse...), and it's so so interesting that you brought up what happened to Ginny in her first year, because that's so true! I never thought of that, but it must have scarred her for life. Yeah, Carrow is pretty disgusting. Whatever Astoria did, Carrow is infinitely worse.
Omg no your rambly review honestly made me so happy, and I felt happy again as I was reading it to respond. Thank you so so much for writing so much into the review. <3
Hi Eva! I'm so excited to be reading another one of your stories :)
“I am vigilant,” said Goyle crabbily -- I enjoyed this. Because you don't have Goyle without Crab(be) after all. Though I don't know if the use of the word 'crabbily' was intentionally meant to be funny. :P I just love puns.
Goyle is so stupid that I don't even have words suitable to describe how stupid. So stupid that he's dangerous. A brick would be a better Prefect. Who just throws killing curses around like that? Thank goodness Astoria was able to intervene before Goyle actually killed someone.
I loved Astoria's ingenuity at sneaking around the Carrows to take care of Lavender. This section in particular really illustrates how good she is at playing her cards close to her chest if she's somewhat of a favorite student of the Carrows. I love that she's so ingratiated with them and uses that to her advantage to help people because they don't think to suspect her.
Section three feels like a marked difference from the first two, and while each successive time she's saved one she's put herself at risk a little more, but this one feels different. Maybe it's because she actively works together with Neville, through unspoken communication, to safely get the first years out of there and joins them as she chaperones them. She's still safe in her position, but she's putting herself out there more, and the DA is starting to notice. On that trajectory, I'm starting to wonder if the fifth life she saves is going to be her own. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Section four breaks my heart a little. I also find myself suddenly shipping Susan/Astoria. Once again, Astoria is so clever to think of a way of intervening without making it look like she is. When Pansy raised her wand, I had no idea how Astoria was going to get Susan out of that situation, but damn, that must have taken a lot of courage and selflessness, to walk into the path of a Cruciatus curse for someone she doesn't even know that well.
Ew ew ew ew I am so disgusted by Amycus Carrow right now and what he is asking of Astoria omfg. I was really not expecting this. But honestly I am impressed that you put it in here, something that's so relevant and important to talk about, as horrifying as it is to even think about it. Because this sort of thing happens. In particular I appreciate that you show how trapped she is, she wants to leave, but she's so scared of what will happen if she says no. You really make her fear and her frozenness because of it so tangible. She doesn't say the word no, but it is so clearly not consent - she's a teenager forced into this position by a man abusing his authority. This, I think, is the case in a lot of sexual assaults. You really capture all the fear of the situation so well.
To your specific questions: I love the way you've characterized Astoria - she's very complex. She seems to have such a clear idea of what she thinks is right and wrong and sticks to it, even as each of these situations challenge her so much and challenge her moral code. And I really admire her ability to think on her feet. I particularly love how you've showed a Slytherin in such a positive light while also highlighting her very Slytherin characteristics, which in the books get very frowned-upon. No one can deny that Astoria is self-serving here, in how she protects herself and upholds her reputation as a pureblood elite, and doesn't let anyone see how much she cares for the DA. But she is also selfless. She took a Crucio for Susan because it was the best way to protect both Susan and herself. I just really admire the nuances you wrote into her character.
There didn't seem to be that much of a tone shift between the fourth and fifth sections, until partway through the fifth section when I got to the line about how utterly creepy Amycus Carrow is the tone really changed (and yes, everything after that point does feel very different). In the first four sections, Astoria puts herself a little more in harms way each time, but only herself. The fifth time, it's not just her. The look Ginny gives her after they're in the hall chilled me to the core. And it's so sad because Astoria knew that it was the only way to keep Ginny alive, but what she had to do to save her was terrible, manipulative, humiliating, and thus not heroic by any standards - even though she did save her life. When Astoria calls Ginny one of the heroes she wants to see live another day, it made me wonder what Ginny would have done if their roles were reversed, what kind of hero she would have been. I just have so many thoughts about their last exchange there, about what it really means to do the right thing. What is the right thing? And what is the cost that one would be willing to pay?
Also, I totally agree with Astoria that the Imperius Curse is the worst. Pain hurts, but someone else controlling your body would be far worse and terrifying.
Damn, there's a lot to unpack about this story.
If I were to offer CC, it would be about the part in the beginning when Astoria criticizes Goyle for how Snape would have their heads if Goyle had hit a gargoyle, but her excuse seemed pretty flimsy to me. Maybe this is because she was under a lot of pressure to come up with something believable and she was a little slow thinking on her feet, and I'm cool with that. But a destroyed column is just as bad as a destroyed gargoyle, if not more, becuase collapsed columns can compromise the integrity of the ceiling or something when gargoyles are purely decoration. I'm also not sure why that gargoyle was said to be a symbol of Snape's power? So it's a bit confusing, but not enough that it really takes away from anything - as I said, I understand if that's the best Astoria could come up with on the spot because in her place I wouldn't even be able to come up with anything at all other than "WTF DUDE"
Also in section four, you mention the professors protecting the Muggleborn students, but if I recall correctly, Muggle-born students weren't allowed to attend Hogwarts that year? I might be wrong, idk.
But that's it, and those are both really small things. Overall this is such a powerful, impressive story and I'm so glad you requested a review on it. It made me think a lot, especially towards the end, and I always appreciate stories that prompt this kind of analysis. Amazing work on this. You are truly an incredible writer.
Hi Kristin! :D
Yayy thank you for commenting on each individual section! I loved reading your thoughts about them. And also thank you for your giant review, you always give me these wonderful lengthy comments and I'm always just beside myself with joy each time.
That was an entirely accidental pun. While I was editing this, I caught it and was like, "Wow, I guess I'm cleverer when I'm not actively thinking about putting things into the story." It was such a happy accident, I was positively delighted with myself lol. Thank you very much for the pun appreciation (though I'm afraid I can't take credit for that, unfortunately haha). But yes, Goyle is an idiot. It's a miracle he made it this far in life, truly. Both he and Crabbe also seemed to utterly delight in using Unforgivables in the last novel, so I was thinking that must be his go-to reflex when frightened, haha.
I'm so relieved to hear that you liked this second section. It was so difficult making Astoria clever and quick-witted because I am a fine specimen of #notclever. (Like, seriously, there is a running joke in my family that I inherited the dumb genes.) So I'm really happy about this haha. Yeah, I definitely thought that Astoria use the Carrows to her advantage, and I've always imagined her as a teacher's pet (but in the worst possible way), so here we are. While writing this part, I managed to make myself hate the Carrows even more haha.
Yeah, I definitely think the third life is where she starts to get a little more personally involved with each life. She's way more active in her involvement with the members of the DA. And whoa, I didn't even consider that the fifth life could possibly be her own; that is an extremely clever idea that I unfortunately did not consider, but omg what a smart idea.
WHOA YOU SHIP THEM TOO? That's so funny because Shreya said the exact same thing, and even though I never intended them to have a relationship, after writing this scene I was sorta staring at it and going, "...Huh. Interesting. It appears the characters have written themselves into a potential relationship situation." SO NOW A PLUNNY HAS INVADED MY MIND INVOLVING SUSAN/ASTORIA AND IS ABSOLUTELY NOT LETTING ME REST. But yes, Astoria took a lot of pain in this one to get Susan out of it.
I should've given you a better warning about this section, sorry about that. All the things I wrote about here just are horrific to think about happening to people in real life. I'm glad that you mentioned the trappedness that Astoria feels, about how it's not so simple as just refusing and saying "no," because Carrow would come after her. That was probably the part I thought was most important here.
Astoria was honestly my absolute favorite character to write, and I'm so happy that you seemed to like her characterization! I have a strange fondness for writing about Slytherins these days (really need to start kicking my brain into Hufflepuff-writing mode), and I think it has something to do with my everlasting bitterness against Jo for all her recent errors lol. She is both self-serving and selfless, even with her strong moral code, and I'm just so happy that you picked up on that! (How many different times have I said that I'm happy in this review omg. My brain is like on permanent repeat.)
Yesyesyes, I absolutely wanted Astoria to do something so morally questionable that it brings her that much closer to the camp of the Carrows. Because I'm positive that the Carrows have forced students to do sickening things by using the Imperius Curse, which is what Astoria is doing here. Her reasons are different, and she's trying to save a life, but in the end, the trauma on the victim is the same. In the end, it's really not Astoria's decision to make on whether or not to control someone's body like that, and so Ginny just isn't going to forgive her for this, like ever. I've wondered about that question, too -- Gryffindors by definition are less likely to make moral sacrifices in order for the greater good; instead they'll just try to do everything right. So Ginny likely would have tried to fight, unbinding Astoria and all that, if their roles were reversed. But then chances were, they would die.
Also, thank you so much for the constructive criticism! About your first point, that's totally my fault, I didn't even consider that a column could be worse than a gargoyle. What I was thinking while writing this scene was that since the gargoyles guard the entrance to the Headmaster's Tower, they're basically what represents the Headmaster to the students, and so that's why Astoria said "symbol of Snape's power." And this is also my fault for not clarifying this, but due to the relative distance to Goyle, the column was damaged far far less than the gargoyle would have been if hit by the curse. (But also, me too, I would just sorta be standing there, struck dumb by the sheer idiocy of Goyle lol.) Thanks for pointing these out! <3
And hahaha my grasp on canon has slowly become weaker and weaker as time passed. It's probably what you said it is, but I have absolutely no idea. It didn't even occur to me to look this up, because I was so sure. So thank you for letting me know about this!
Thank you so so much Kristin! And this response is monstrous omg.