Your writing really deserves more thought and time than I'll be putting into this review, but I simply had to take advantage of the review fest to review some of your work.
Perhaps what I found most interesting was Albus telling Aberforth that he had to return school. He did this, obviously, not because he so values education that he felt his brother must complete his. Indeed, he appeared to think, even, that his brother may not be worthy of a full education. No, he insisted because he felt like a martyr, and that act solidified everything for him. He probably felt a certain duty (as the new head of household--oh, poor Albus, what a burden) to urge Aberforth to return to Hogwarts, but he really did it because he felt sorry for himself.
To return to the beginning of the piece, I enjoyed the situation with the exam. I can definitely relate to the feeling of having that one question staring at you, and you know that you're not going to be able to answer it. However, I don't suppose this bothers me quite as much as it bothered young Albus.
He's quite inflexible in this story, and not particularly admirable. Well, that's how he was at this point in his life. Yet, I still found myself relating to him. He did have a couple of valid points--for instance, might Ariana have been better off under professional care? Who's to say? It's just his selfish way of approaching the situation that grates. (This all made more sense in my head.)
Well, I wound up writing more than I had intended. I usually find a lot to ponder when I read your work.
Author's Response: Wow, thank you very much, Alopex! It's always fantastic to receive your reviews, and I'm in great luck to have gotten this (I think I had been going to request you anyway.).
I'm a little surprised at how complex the story ended up being when I hadn't put too much planning into it beyond the characterization of Albus. The rest fell together, arising from personal experience with exams and the few facts of their mother's death I could gleam. Aberforth became rather more prominent than I expected because he's so much of a contrast from his cold, ambitious brother. He is all heart, while Albus is all mind, and neither can be successful in those extremes.
For Albus, the significance is on finishing something. He cannot finish the question. Aberforth cannot finish school. Those things go against his belief that only once something is complete can one move on to the next step - there is no deviation. Albus is also very scared, or rather I think that he should be, but it's very unconscious, possibly repressed. He has had to become their father, and now he must be mother, too. It's not fair on him, no matter how awful he appears to be.
It felt like in DH that Dumbledore wished that he had done something more for Arianna, and that likely includes sending her to the asylum. Although that would have been a crime in Aberforth's eyes, Arianna would not have died, perhaps she could have even been helped. It's impossible to know. Albus has sound logic, but like you said, his attitude toward his family is demeaning and insulting, making it impossible for neither brother to see things clearly.
You've given me a lot to ponder too. :P I never thought about the story quite like that before, it's pretty strange how little I think about a story while writing it, then only afterward do I see all its facets. Thank you very much for reading and reviewing. :D