Hi, H.S. This story is another great missing moment, though it’s different from your other missing moments in a couple of respects.
First of all, it seems a lot darker than your other missing moments, although the choice of Draco as a subject doesn’t necessarily mean that the tone will be dark; you could have chosen to write about Draco as a ferret, for example.
And second, it seems to have fewer solid connection points to canon than your other missing moments. In fact, there is only one, the fact that Florean Fortescue had disappeared several months earlier under violent circumstances. Everything else is very reasonable and plausible supposition: that he researched poisons while at home over Christmas, that kidnapped persons were already being held in the cellar of his family home and were being executed, that he discovered this due to the wishes of his mad aunt, that his mother was powerless to affect the course of events in any way.
I really love the way you have gotten into the mind of Draco, filling out this fairly bare-bones story with a richness of Draco’s increasing understanding of what is happening and how things stand with his family, the Dark Lord, and the war. You have skillfully avoided the trap of saying the same things over and over, which one sometimes sees in an intensely introspective piece like this. You have managed to turn Draco into a sympathetic but tragic character, much different from the swaggering, bullying pre-adolescent whom we first met in book one. He feels increasingly trapped, his choices being taken away one by one until he has, as he thinks, “no other option.”
However, you did right in not portraying Draco as beginning to question his family values of blood purity and pureblood dominance; that change of heart did not occur until the very end of the tale. At this time of his life, all he felt was anguish, stress, confusion, desperation, and you express these feelings very well.
I was intrigued by your treatment of Draco’s mother. At the beginning of the story you imply that she removed the books dealing with poisons from the Malfoy family library, suggesting that she did not want Draco to learn to make a poison, but at the end of the story she answers, “I know” when Draco assures her he will succeed in killing Professor Dumbledore. She cannot change the course of events (or so she thinks at this point), but you have shown the love that existed between her and Draco, perhaps the only love in the household, and we know how that played out in the end.
Your writing is, as usual, hard to find fault with. In this story there is not a lot of physical description of the scenes, but I don’t miss it at all, since the focus is mostly what’s going on in Draco’s head, not what’s going on around him. In the cellar scene, your description is rightly limited to the abandoned and foreign (to him) clothes; the stone walls or cold air don’t matter here. My only suggestion would be in the second half of the final sentence: it seems to end a bit abruptly, and I would like to expand that sentence a little more, so that it trails off a little longer.
I really like the canon-compliant stories that you write. The saga in the seven books is a serious tale, and the missing moments add to its weightiness in a way that fluffy post-Hogwarts stories cannot. Thank you for writing.
What a great setup you have here. I've been out of the HP loop lately, and this was a fabulous way back in. I loved your characterisation of Draco and the moment you chose to illustrate in this story. I could really feel the pressure Draco was under to kill Dumbledore, and I was really glad to see Draco having clear conscientious objections to what was going on in his own household.
I wasn't sure how the title fit in, at first but I really liked how your title tied in with the whole story, as I think you expanded on the whole Fortescue storyline really well.
Anyway, this is my first review in a loooong time, so apologies if it's not particularly in-depth D: I'm slowly getting back into the HP fandom after what felt like a long hiatus (really just a few months, but it felt like forever!), so like I said, this was a great start at getting back into it :)
Author's Response: Hello! Your review is fine and very much appreciated! Any kind of feedback is nice in fanfic so thank you very much. For all their faults the Malfoys always looked after their own so I figured Draco wouldn't really want those kind of things affecting his family. It's too soon for him to he having any kind of doubts over his plans with Dumbledore but he was never a terrible person deep, deep down. Anyway thank you again for the review and welcome back to the fandom!
Very original. An unusual snapshot of Draco's life.
Author's Response: Thank you :)