I’m always interested in Draco stories, especially those concerning his motivations during that sixth year and onwards. He’s such an intriguing and well-rounded character because we do see in the sixth and seventh books that he does have a spark of humanity about him that could lead to his redemption.
I very much liked the connections you made in the story, like Pansy’s letter reminding him of the Vanishing Cabinet, which led him to Bourgin and Burkes. It felt very natural and the plot flowed pretty well.
I’m in two minds about the opening chapter. There were a couple of moments in his characterisation which didn’t ring true to me, although it’s very possible that you’ve written this in a way that also shows he’s self-deluded.
Draco wondered where his voice had gone. He was never scared by anyone, so why had his throat closed up, not allowing any sound out except a strangled grunt?
The thing is, Draco in the books is scared of quite a lot. He’s scared of the Forbidden Forest, he’s scared of Hermione when she hits him, he’s scared of Moody, so perhaps a line in the story where it’s obvious he’d refusing to think about the times when he’s been terrified would aid the characterisation.
The other part in chapter one is here:
That he could be so foolish to have both been beaten by Potter (whom Draco had beaten several times before) and to let himself be caught by the Ministry was disgusting.
Again, Draco is deluded. He hasn’t beaten Harry several times before. Usually Harry beats him. The only time Draco did really get what he wanted was when he got Harry thrown off the Quidditch team. So, it could be good to show Draco’s ascendency in this sixth year if his besting of Harry in the carriage is seen as a newer experience for Draco.
They’re both minor points, but they did niggle at me a little in the opening chapter.
The final point is that I’d have liked to have seen him get his Dark Mark. I can only imagine what a huge thing it was for him, and with Bellatrix alongside urging him on, and Narcissa in constant fear, it would have made a powerful scene.
Having said that, it’s obviously your story, and I did enjoy reading it. ~Carole~
You have a lovely story here--it fits perfectly within canon and it's a cool plot bunny--retelling sixth year from the point of view of Draco Malfoy would grant us a radically different interpretation of canon events as well as a lot of new material which Harry and company would never have experienced during their time at Hogwarts. Your descriptions are strong--I can definitely envision certain locations which you use during your story; some particular favorite moments of mine were your description of Voldemort in Chapter 1 (not going to pull up a direct quote, but it included the phrase "a string of words") as well as your description of Draco's pomp and the interactions between all of the Slytherins on the train to Hogwarts.
My favorite part of this story is simultaneously the part I'm going to critique. You do an incredible job of showing Draco as a teenager--sulky, angry, and often unreasonable. Suddenly it is clear to me how he could so willingly and foolishly enter into a contract with the Dark Lord. I completely buy your interpretation of the events and his emotions so far. But this interpretation isn't the most flattering in the world--Draco, more times than not, in his boasting to his friends on the train or in his wary appreciation of (insane) Bellatrix, sounds downright foolish and I want to smack some sense into him! And that, dear author, is my critique: it is very difficult to keep reading a story about a protagonist with whom you don't identify or empathize. Though your depiction is completely in character, I urge you to quickly include events/reasons that will bring Draco closer to reality, closer to how we see him at the end of Book 6 when he is afraid, tired, nearly sick with emotion and completely unprepared to kill Dumbledore. The Draco we see at the end of Book 6 is a little pathetic, but readers (at least I) do empathize with him. We don't respect him or think he's a hero, but we feel something for his plight.
I also urge you in the future to take more advantage of the flexibility of this plot to really be creative: show us parts of Hogwarts or the students' social scene that Harry/the Gryffindors were never exposed to in canon! Obviously, the Slytherin Common Room is a place to start, but branch out--has Malfoy and company discovered secret rooms like the Room of Requirement which Harry, Hermione and Ron found? Do they have house traditions? What are the social dynamics of Slytherin and how do they affect Draco? It is these new stories and characters that can draw readers in and excite them even though they know how this story will end thanks to canon--take the time to build a world inside of JKR's world because, in this plot device of canon-through-a-different-character's-POV, you really have the opportunity to do so.
Once again, good work and good luck with further chapters! Without further ado, write on. :)
Author's Response: I'm so pleased you took the time to read this. It's actually the first peice of fan fic I ever wrote, and I've kind of abandoned it as my imagination sidetracked me onto more original ideas. Thank you for the critique, I agree wholeheartedly! I was thinking of coming back to this fic over the summer and trying to improve it, so it may well progress slowly!!
I really felt Draco's confusion over what choices to make. He's one of those characters that feels forced into the family business. You told it very well :)
Author's Response: Thanks! I found it difficult in this chapter, because I know nothing much happens, but I really needed to set up how his ambition contrasts with his family ties. It's something I want to make him struggle with much more - especially how let down he feels now that his father is in prison. I'm glad you liked it!