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.
Hello my dear! I was so excited to see this finally posted on the forums and super eager to be the first person to review it—and the first person to tell you how STUNNING this is, even though you certainly already know how much I love this piece from all my rambling when I was beta-ing for you. (By the way, your thank-you note at the bottom was SO SWEET omg. -sends a truckload of bubble tea- thank YOU for writing such a wonderful and extremely easy piece to beta haha!).
In general, this piece was so intense and complex; multidimensional—there’s not one adjective I can use to describe it perfectly. It was definitely gripping and made my stomach twist in certain places; I had to close my laptop at one moment befause I felt so deeply for Astoria. But I was also laughing at so many moments. I think the dichotomy of my reactions can really be attributed to he wonderful, complex character you’ve created in Astoria.
Like this story, to me, she defies being easily defined; she is fierce and bold, but still so very human, and I really like that. I like seeing heroic characters presented as also human characters—it adds a level of depth that makes this piece even more beautifully-written and so well-thought. I also appreciated how her personality seemed to jump out the page; half-way through the first life, I was already practically in love with her. Her wit, her intelligence, her sassiness, her feminism—honestly, I wondered at first if Ravenclaw was not a better choice for her, haha! Astoria, like all of your female leads, was so incredibly likable. I also liked that her reasons for saving these people’s lives were simply that she disagreed with the Carrows’ policies and recognized how inhumane and cruel they were. That intellectuality and firmness in her morality is what attracts me most to her. She’s truly wonderful.
And I definitely appreciated her humor because each of the lives were very intense in their own right. I’m actually rather curious about the characters that you chose to be saved; I think they were rather interesting choices. I liked how the characters were ordered in terms of how personal they are to us—most readers aren’t too concerned/don’t have that much of a favorable opinion of Michael or Lavender, probably feel positively towards Susan, and likely have strong opinions about Neville and Ginny. I also find it interesting how you chose the way each person would be saved, and I’m definitely curious about all the decisions you made.
Speaking of Susan, UM YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I SHIP THIS OMG. (Please give me that domesticity one-shot because I will actually die haha).
Okay, aside from Susan and your wonderful characterizations, I also have to commend you for the masterpiece that is the last life. That was extraordinarily bold, attempting something like that, and you described the scene perfectly, with just the right amount of tact and subtlety. I could feel shivers crawling up my skin; this was when I had to close my laptop and turn away from a moment. (To me, this part felt even more icky because of all of the sexual scandals in the news and all I could think was that this was just another example of men abusing their power and infantilzing women... I don’t think it was meant to be political, but that certainly adds to the dramaticness of this scene!).
I liked the subtlety this scene introduced—that saving a life isn’t always positive, for the savior or for the person who is saved... and that it could require something unspeakable. I think that’s a harsh, but very realistic truth about heroism and I’m glad that you mentioned. I love how your title is four plus one because this life was rather different from the four previous as perhaps the most accurate picture of the consequences of heroism.
OK, so I’ve rambled for quite a bit but I want to reiterate: this was so powerful. I’m definitely coming back to reread it and get hit again with the Feels train. So well done! I’m so sad FROGS noms are over because otherwise, I would ABSOLUTELY nominate this for Best Minor Character. Because your characterization of Astoria was THAT good.
Thanks for sharing wih me; I’m honored to have been able to help make this piece what it is <3
SHREYA MY LOVE <3
(I'm never going to stop thanking you for helping me because really you're such an angel for taking the time out of your busy life to read my stuff. So thank you thank you thank you!) And funny story about the bubble tea, I just finished drinking some homemade bubble tea. It's not as good as the ones you buy, but it's still warm and filling, and the homemade tapioca pearls have a nice chewiness to them. I don't know why I'm talking so much about bubble tea, clearly there's an unhealthy obsession going on here lol. Anyway, I suppose the point of that ramble was to thank you for sending me a virtual truckload of bubble tea, haha.
Omg your analysis of Astoria made me a happy gooey mess haha. I'm really glad her characteristics stood out to you so prominently like that! I've seen a lot of headcanons of Astoria being in Ravenclaw (Branwen's being the example that comes to mind), and I can totally see that, because Astoria certainly is smart enough to have been in Ravenclaw. In my head, though (even with the traits you just listed), she will forever be in Slytherin because of the way her mind twists situations into ways that work for herself and her goals. She's forced to create plans and solutions on the spot, and I think that's what makes her a Slytherin.
This may be an unpopular opinion but I adore Lavender as a character. I have a huge burning desire to write Lavender/Parvati all the time. Though I do agree that Lavender was not portrayed well in the books, and fandom as a whole doesn't enjoy her character too much, and that played a part in the way I chose to order the characters. You make a really good observation about the characters and the fandom's general opinions on them! Mostly while I was figuring out which characters to use, I was considering how willing Astoria would be to put herself on the line for them, and then I ordered the situations based on intensity.
YEAH ME TOO IT WAS TOTALLY UNINTENTIONAL BUT NOW THE SHIP IS SAILING WHOO. My mind must have subconsciously shipped Susan/Astoria before I even began writing this story or something, because it just happened so naturally. Like, my fingers were typing that scene all of their own accord.
That last life was so difficult to write. I edited it so much, and rewrote it like two times, so thank you for your comments on it. And I'm really glad you brought up the sexual assault cases in the news these days; my ideas on the last life began solidifying at around the same time as the development of Larry Nassar's case, and I was just so grossed out by it that it definitely inspired this part a great deal. I wasn't trying to comment on current events with this, but just that this was definitely a very, very real possibility in Astoria's time.
She definitely did something horrifying in this life to Ginny. I'm glad that you liked the uncertainty that this presented -- like, did she actually do the right thing?
That's such a huge compliment omg, thank you so so much! Your review means so much to me. <3