One of my fics Nothing to Lose was voted for the August Fic Night, and I thought I would post the Q&A from that on here!
Summary: Astoria is harbouring a secret, one that she cannot keep from Draco any longer.
Characters: Astoria Greengrass/Draco Malfoy
1.Obviously the story was written for a challenge. When you got the prompt what were your feelings?
Straight off the bat I wanted to write it and I had ideas floating around in my head. It would be a little angsty but with a happy ending, which is what I tend to write anyway! Writing Drastoria was going to be difficult because my go-to pairing is of course Scorbus (Albus Potter/Scorpius Malfoy), but I was very excited to explore them more. I also hatedeadlines but somehow I managed to actually meet this one! What’s a challenge without being pushed out of your comfort zone?
1a. You have one other story on your AP where Astoria is listed as a major character. Does she appeal to you individually or more in the broader context of the Next-Gen version of the Malfoy family?
!!Minor spoiler warning for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (HPCC)!! I would say both. In the play (she never appears on stage, only spoken about by other characters), Astoria dies right before Scorpius’ third year at Hogwarts – which, to bring the tone down a wee bit, is actually canonically THIS VERY WEEK. Scorpius is thirteen years old and Astoria is thirty-six/thirty-seven. We know very little about her, other than Draco deeply loved her, and she specifically wanted Scorpius to be brought up without the pureblood ideals that she and Draco grew up with. In this piece [Nothing to Lose], I wanted to ensure I explored her individually and made her into her own person, rather than just a name thrown out a few times in HPCC. She heavily influences Scorpius – his personality, his values – and you all know how important that little Malfoy is to me!
1b. Would you consider writing another Astoria/Draco story where their pairing is at the epicenter?
Funny you should say that, I’m currently writing another one! It focuses on her relationship with Draco and Scorpius over the years, the deterioration of her condition, and eventually her death, all told from the point of view of their house-elf, Bizzy.
1c. The prompt doesn't seem to require Astoria keeping her condition a secret. Why choose that path?
I think I just inferred that and just went with it to be honest, haha! Plus, I think it is more emotionally impacting for Astoria to have that secret and risk losing her marriage by giving Draco the freedom to leave. She was always going to tell him about the curse - it’s incredibly important to know that she is never conflicted about her own choice, telling him and losing the marriage or hiding it and confessing after marriage - she knew exactly what she was doing. It shows her compassion and love for Draco. She has been able to get away with it so to speak up until now because they’re not living together and won’t be until they are married. But she would definitely not be able to keep it a secret once they were constantly in each other’s presence.
1c1. Draco is, IMO, remarkably okay with getting this news as late as he did. I know I would've been extremely upset - not necessarily break it off upset - but I'd...I don't even know how I'd react. How is so okay with this without missing a beat?
I most definitely see where this question has come from! But I will say just remember this is Draco just five years after Deathly Hallows. He and Astoria have been together probably two years at most and Scorpius will not be born for another three years. I strongly believe that Draco at this age (twenty-three), will absolutely still be struggling to come to terms with everything he experienced at school. He did some horrific things and equally experienced some horrific things. Astoria is his light in the darkness. He loves her and that is massive for him, and he is allowing himself this brand new thing – to love and be loved, to have a second chance. Also, because it’s Astoria’s POV we of course don’t get much of an insight into Draco’s head. He will no doubt have all sorts of conflicting and dark thoughts running around his mind, but Astoria allows him to push through those, to have some clarity, and to be in control of his future.
2. What was the reasoning behind your structure for the story?
I am honestly not sure how to answer this one. I’m a pantser and so I don’t plan my fics other than perhaps basic plot notes? I just tend to write and see how it comes out and, more often than not, I rarely substantially change things in my editing stage. But I know that I wanted to slot some character information in that shows Astoria’s character, like knowing the Muggles in the restaurant and being at odds with her sister. Speaking of Daphne, she is one to have a string of relationships and Lee is just one of the many – she won’t be marrying him, but that is not obvious in the piece mostly because it’s to show how little Astoria and her sister communicate. I may need to add more to that.
3. Is Muggle-tolerant Greengrass children a head Canon of yours or something to make the prompt work?
This is actually canon and can be found on Pottermore. Over the Second Wizarding War, Astoria’s perspective shifts away from the ideals she was brought up with and to a more tolerant view. She consequently raises Scorpius away from all of that and allows him to be a child and to express himself how he likes, and to respect everyone no matter their background. I do headcanon though that she stayed and fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. Daphne is most certainly headcanon, I just liked the idea of both sisters having similar values but different executions. Daphne despises Draco for everything he did - and he’s a pureblood. Daphne won’t marry a pureblood or have relationships with purebloods, of that I am sure.
3a. Was that informed based on how you Scorpius or independently?
Absolutely based on Scorpius along with the canon information. In HPCC, Scorpius is this adorable, precious, anxious bookworm (constantly referred to as a cinnamon roll within the fandom) and absolutely the polar opposite of his father at that age. He was raised by two loving parents but is absolutely not entitled or egotistic. He’s empathetic, full of love, and embodies his mother in personality and his father in looks. I think Scorpius as a character tells us a lot about Astoria, you just have to look between the lines.
4. What appeals most to you about the Albus/Scorpius pairing?
The fact that they are each other’s lifeline. They are heavily co-dependent but it is far from unhealthy. Their friendship is built on them both being essentially outcasts. Scorpius is bullied and accused of being the son of Voldemort. Albus is very much like Harry but Harry struggles to see the leaves for the wood with Albus, if that makes sense, and at Hogwarts he is bullied for his lacking magical ability and for just not living up to the Potter name. These two friends find solace in each other. Where Scorpius panics, Albus is calm. Where Albus struggles with expressing himself to his family, Scorpius is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. They complement each other. Plus there are some powerful scenes in HPCC that heavily allude to more than friendship between them – and certainly potential for them to be a future pairing! Plus, they are just so much fun to write – SO MUCH FLUFF!
5. Finally, one of the strengths I noticed in this story in particular was your ability to weave in who these characters were and background about them logically into the story rather than all at once. Any tips?
First of all, thank you! That’s such amazing praise and I’m now dying! Second, I’m a pantser, that’s my style, which literally means I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer . I rarely plan my fics in any sort of detail and I swear most things that get included are more subconscious? I don’t know! I have been writing for eight years now and in several different fandoms so I think I’ve just learned it over time? I’m not sure if I can advise someone how to do it other than to practice. Keep writing and practice, and get to know your own writing style.