"This is how you do it: You sit down at a keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard." - Neil Gaiman

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Writing this fanfiction, during such a turmoil-filled year, has been an intense emotional journey. I began in November of 2019, before COVID-19, before J.K. Rowling's transphobia controversy, before the issue of police brutality took center stage in my country, before same-sex marriage and abortion rights were threatened by the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Since the beginning of this fic, I have undergone great change as a writer and person, just as the world has.

When the Smoke Clears began as a half-assed diversion for myself, and myself only, when my ex-boyfriend and I were going through some post-breakup drama. I've always turned to writing in times of loneliness, self-doubt, and shame. At that time in my life, I needed a story that reflected my own thoughts of uncertainty and yearning for peace. And most of all, I needed a story that made me believe in love again.

Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter have both been my comfort characters for years now, so exploring them in depth has been a source of joy for me. I picked apart Draco's guilt and insecurities, explored the extent of Harry's compassion and tendency to temper, and had a lot of fun doing it. I won't lie; it's a hell of a lot easier using characters that I didn't create originally - I didn't have to try terribly hard to flesh them out, which left me more room to describe their relationship and the world around them.

I asked you all to send me questions about the fanfiction, and I got a few (thank you!), so I'll answer them now. How has it been writing a full-length novel? Does it inspire you to write more? and Do you think you will continue writing after this? Short answer: yes, I will definitely be writing more after WTSC! Writing a novel-length fic has challenged me to actually plan out my work instead of just writing off the top of my head like I usually do. Believe it or not, I've gained some new skills from writing this, which I will be sure to use in my next works, whether it be more fanfictions or original stories. Right now, I'm haphazardly working on a five-part science fiction novel, a short horror story, and another Drarry fanfiction separate from WTSC.

How many of these WTSC stories have you planned? Are you planning one or more? When the Smoke Clears, is in fact, part of a series. Currently the series is named Always By Your Side, but I'm most likely changing that to something else very soon. There will definitely be a sequel, titled Between Here and the Stars. Beyond that, I doubt I'll be writing anything full-length, but oneshots set in the same universe are definitely a possibility.

By the way (and this is me adding this paragraph after I wrote the rest of it because I almost forgot), I have a document floating around with deleted scenes from WTSC, including more Herbology shenanigans, cuddly Drarry moments, and dramatic conflict. If you'd like the document, message me on Discord (Mihane#8688) and I'll send it right over.

The sequel will probably start to be published around Christmas. Until then, I'll take a short break to finish another Drarry fanfiction that I started on a whim in late summer. It's based heavily off a Charlie Kaufman film, so the story isn't exactly original, but I've had a rollicking good time putting it on paper nevertheless. I hope you'll enjoy that one as well :)

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I have many people to thank that helped me, some unknowingly, during the course of writing When the Smoke Clears.

Thank you to my wonderful friends from creative writing class who proofread and got me through writing blocks when I needed it. We're all very busy taking the IB, so I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to help me out!

Thank you to my 9th grade English and creative writing teacher, who taught me how to write critically, and how to properly write poetry. Thank you to my 10th grade creative writing teacher, who taught me how to actually plan a story, and make it seem like I knew what I was doing all along.

Thank you to God, whom many are surprised I even believe in, who gave me the talent for writing at a very young age.

Lastly, and certainly not least, a colossal thank you to my readers. From the very beginning, your supportive comments kept me going. Seeing that my writing made someone cry, or enormously happy, never failed to make my day one hundred percent better. I consider it a pleasure and an honor to write for the Harry Potter fandom, who has been there for me since the moment I discovered you all on the Internet. I look forward to continuing to write the series, and I hope you can welcome my upcoming original character as warmly as you have accepted my version of Draco and Harry.

Farewell for now.

~ M