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Look at this!! I have happy tears in my eyes that someone takes that much time to write about my humble little story!

Originally posted by [ profile] suitesamba at Harry Big Bang - Review - Defined by Love
Defined by Love by [ profile] lyonessheart with art by coffeeisagoodstart, is an appropriate title to a story which is all about putting together families in a lot of different ways, delivering the message that it isn’t blood that defines a family, but love. But don’t think for a minute that the story is all about cuddles and nappies – there’s some serious intrigue here, a touch of murder, and a sinister plot that has been at work in the pureblood world for years.

The story contains 54,327 words and has an E (explicit) rating and on AO3 is tagged for characters and pairings only. Other appropriate tags are romance, mystery, family, adoption/fostering, character death (not H/D) and EWE. The story features Harry/Draco, past Harry/Ginny, past Draco/Astoria, Scorpius, the Malfoys, Hermione, Ron, original children and other OCs.

We begin with Harry breaking things off gently with Ginny – his best friend and girlfriend – because he knows that no matter how much he loves her, she’s not the one. I love the author’s treatment of Ginny here – she and Harry remain close throughout, and there is no bitterness or pettiness. Harry goes on with his life – working at the orphanage, taking in two foster children, being denied permission by the Ministry to adopt them – and Ginny goes on with hers. Harry has room in his life and his heart for another child, but thinks the doors are closed to him. However, Ginny tells him about a private adoption agency, and he applies and wonder of wonders, soon finds himself with a newborn daughter.

At the same time Mila comes to Grimmauld Place, Draco and Astoria’s first-born, Estelle, dies at birth. Harry writes to Draco to express his condolences and a friendship is kindled between the two. Draco and Astoria go to France, where Scorpius is born, and move back to England. But Draco is soon widowed, and Draco and Harry run into each other at a Muggle daycare, which they each plan to use for their young children.

And that immediately intrigues Harry – the thought of Draco using a Muggle facility. It’s obvious to Harry, anyway, that Draco is not his father.

Harry and Draco soon find that they have quite a bit in common besides their children and the shared daycare center. For example, they’re both gay. Astoria knew this when she and Draco married, so they resorted to some unconventional methods to conceive. We’re treated to some lovey romantic scenes with Harry and Draco, and some sweet family tableaus, including some with the elder Malfoys, and a tantrum or two. But it is when Harry and Draco first sleep together, and Harry sees Draco’s birthmark, that the mystery and intrigue take off. It’s helped along by Astoria’s diary, which Draco finds and reads, and by Astoria’s portrait, which hangs in Draco’s home.

And while there are spoilers ahead in this review, let it be said that there are hints aplenty in the story before this point pointing to the true magical heritage of little Mila, who, it turns out, has the same birthmark as Draco Malfoy.

Harry, heart sinking as he contemplates what this means, consults with Hermione to find out more about these magical birthmarks, and the two try to learn more about what they soon realize is a baby trade of sorts in pureblood first-born girls. This scheme runs long and deep, and affects even Hermione, and Pansy Parkinson. Harry doesn’t tell Draco immediately when he suspects the truth about Mila, and that is very nearly his undoing. Well – either that, or Hermione. You be the judge. When Mila is abducted, everything comes to a head – and when the truth about her parentage is revealed, she’s taken from Harry by the Ministry to be returned to her biological family.

But all’s well that ends well, for Harry, thank Merlin, knows a thing or two about her biological father. The story ends with a lovely reunion, followed by a nice little Christmas epilogue, complete with a great piece of art depicting the family decorating the Christmas tree. The piece has an old time storybook quality to it that I absolutely love. All the art in this story is fantastic, and I like the feather motif used to separate the sections. Check out the semi-explicit piece in Chapter 3. Just lovely.

“Defined by Love” is told in the present tense, which immediately draws in the reader. The story is nicely framed with a short prologue, a short ending epilogue, and a few hefty chapters in the middle that read quickly and develop the action (and the resolution) evenly. The prologue sets the scene for the mystery, and leaves the reader looking for clues as the story progresses. The mystery/intrigue here is unlike anything I’ve read in the fandom, and really is rather chilling, though it’s handled very well by the author.

The explicit scenes do deserve the rating, and are well done and as tasteful as an E rating can be. Keep in mind that I’m a reader/reviewer who doesn’t read a lot of Harry/Draco, so I can only judge these stories against themselves, and the spirit of the Harry Bang. This is decidedly a story about Harry, and how he creates a family, and expands it with Draco, and how the two of them find common ground in their shared experiences as fathers. But the mystery drives the story and spins it into something more, so the lovely ending Christmas scene seems all the more hard-won.

I love the detail in this story, from magical baby monitors to the blood ritual near the end, and as a lover of happy endings, I couldn’t help but enjoy “Defined by Love.”
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