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Ooh, yes! I read this when you posted it, but I'm glad I didn't review it then because now I've read the Rime and I understand it (a little bit).

I think the comparison between Dumbledore and the Mariner is a really apt one. Ariana, like the Albatross, is a pure, innocent creature who doesn't want to do anyone harm. One could say that she's sort of a charm for the Dumbledore family--whether good luck or bad luck, it's not easy to say and it comes down to a matter of perspective. But then the battle happens and Albus must deal with the fallout: he loses the man he loves/his best friend, and after that, his life becomes a haunted one.

So yeah, I really love that comparison. So awesome! As usual, I am amazed by your use of simile and metaphor. They are never clunky or out of place, and figurative language really adds to the concepts that are in this story.

Brilliant work!

House Cup 2014 Review


Author's Response: Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! It's great that you were able to read the Rime too - it's not necessary of course, but it adds that extra bit to the story.

What you've said about how the comparison works is spot-on - even better than what I originally had. Ariana does represent that innocence, a form of magic that's lost in Albus and Gellert's world of ambition and power. For Kendra Dumbledore, I think Ariana was a good luck charm, something to be cherished and protected, a belief that Aberforth inherited. Whereas Albus always saw Ariana as the albatross around his neck - a curse before and after her death, from which he can never escape. It's fascinating to think of her being a charm of either/both good and bad luck. It all depends on one's interpretation. For Aberforth Ariana remained a good luck charm that he held close to him, unlike his brother who lived beneath the guilt of her curse for the rest of his life. Wow! That adds another dimension to the story!

Thank you so much for your compliments! It's lovely to hear from you again, and I really appreciate that you took the time to read and review. ^_^

Truly, truly beautiful oneshot here! It's painful to read in a way because Dumbledore is always presented as this strong character but here he is much more than that. He is loving and fragile and... it's just heartbreaking. In such a short amount of words you really made an impact on me and countless other readers, I'm sure! The emotions in this one were just so raw I'm actually blown away. It felt almost as if I were the one feeling these things. I didn't have to process or reread sentences as I usually do, your wording just flowed easily across my mind. I also really liked the inclusion of the poetry! Very nicely incorporated into the rest of the oneshot :)


{House Cup 2014 Review - Gryffindor}

Author's Response: Thank you! It's lovely to hear such compliments about this story. There's nothing better for an author to hear than that their story had an impact on a reader, and it means even more for this story because there was so few words to make that impact.

Wow, I don't know what else to say but to thank you again! I'm really glad that you took the time to read and review this story. :D

This was just absolutely beautiful writing. I felt like it flowed and the words showed me the story, taking me along with them, instead of me consciously reading them and processing them in my mind. We don't think too much of Dumbledore having experienced love - and J.K. has told us that he did indeed love Gellert, but this story portrays the loss of that love like none that I've read before. How painful it must've been to have to kill the man you love - to choose between saving the world and the person that you had held most dear. Dumbldore always viewed his love of Gellert as his weakness - because it resulted in such tragedy for his family. But, he valued love above all else and that fact alone makes him a strong, amazing wizard.

House Cup 2014 Review

Author's Response: Thank you! It's great to see how much you enjoyed the writing and how thought-provoking this story was for you. :D

You've raised an important point regarding love. Dumbledore emphasises its significance to Harry, but at the same time he distinguishes between positive and negative forms of love - both of which are, for him, at least better than having experienced no love at all. But is his love for Grindelwald a positive or negative kind of love? It h, as a negative affect on both their lives, and repeatedly causes strife for Albus - not because he loves a man, but because he loves the wrong man. He becomes blinded to Grindelwald's activities and beliefs, and it ends up destroying Albus's family. Yet at the same time he wouldn't be what it became if not for that love.

It's a complicated issue, and this story only scrapes the surface of it.

This turned out to be a long response - thank you for reading and reviewing! It was a great treat to respond to your review. :D
Wow, what an emotional and powerful story. You managed to pack quite a punch in very few words, and I definitely enjoyed reading this one-shot. I like how you sort of "humanize" the incident with Ariana, it makes it easier to relate to. I feel so bad for Albus here, not only suffering the loss of his sister and feeling like it's his fault, but suffering the loss of his first love. I think there is nothing worse than realizing that the one you love never cared, and you did a brilliant job at getting his anguish across the pages. I really like how you related it to the Mariner poem, and I think they sort of rather fit each other, even if it isn't 100% canon. The first paragraph about the silent snow really set the scene and tone well. I think writing in a more rigid and formal tone really added to the piece as well, because I imagine this is how Dumbledore would be thinking, it was like a hundred years ago.

--house cup 2014 review--
pretense of perfection, rgryffindor

Author's Response: Thank you! It's fantastic to hear such compliments about this story. :)

I don't think it humanizes the incident with Ariana. If anything, it's meant to show Albus's culpability - no matter what the "truth" is, he recognizes that he is to blame, that he caused his sister's death. This story also shows Albus's selfishness, how he thinks of himself and HIS losses. Where is Aberforth in this? Even Ariana is just his dead sister - something for him to feel guilty about, nothing more. He cares too much about his own loneliness and pain. It's probably not good to be relating to Albus - it's tempting for sure, and maybe in that way this story humanizes him, but he brought it on himself and just feels sorry for himself afterwards.

Presenting Albus in this way was challenging even without the word count limitations. There's so much one could do to explore his character and the horrible impact he has on the lives of his siblings.
House Cup 2014 Review.

What an incredible story this was! Managing to put so much meaning into just 500 words is not an easy feat, but you did it beautifully. The writing is just so exquisite and lovely, too.

I don't read enough about Albus, and this one shot potrayed him and Gellert in a different light than what I usually see, which I liked a lot. Albus's feelings were so raw, and I could really feel his grief and sadness and his desire, which is again incredible, considering this is just 500 words.

Anyways, fantastic fic- I just loved everything about it!

Author's Response: Thank you! The funny thing about 500 word stories is that, while they appear short, they're more tightly packed with ideas and can actually take longer to read. That's what's fun about writing them. :D

It's lovely to hear that you enjoyed this one, and thank you for your compliments!
2014-05-25 5:45pm
That's very true, what you say about likening it to the poem. Very interesting observation. I love everything that's implied for us to work out ourselves, and the short ness helps the feeling! All in all excellent!

Author's Response: Thank you very much! I'm glad that you liked being able to work out the details for yourself - it's hard to tell when writing whether the style has become too minimalistic and lost too much meaning. It means a lot to hear that you found this an excellent story! :)
Wah, Gellert and Albus and only 500 words? That's so difficult but you managed to do it do beautifully.

I think in this piece, you managed to capture Albus' voice throughout. You could feel the emotion, the pain and plain regret that he felt. Your grasp of the language is so beautiful. I know in one of your responses you told me that a lot of the earlier stuff was "practice" and honestly, I wish one day I'd have enough practice to write as poetically and beautifully as you manage to. I know you've posted over 50 stories over more than a decade, and it's amazing to know that you've gotten so good and I honestly wonder if you've written OF before!

But honestly, his pain is so evident. His desire for Grindelwald and how he even gave up Ariana in a way for him -- in vain.

Your descriptions are brilliant. It's that gasp a reader releases when they are reading a novel because they are blown away by the use of words, a different perspective on snow falling, or "he felt bad" but you make it so much more.

It was that one sided love that made this piece even more heart wrenching. The way you make your characters feel and react to pain is amazing, but since this is Dumebledore it's even more brilliant because he is so complex. I think in this piece we get to see him mature a bit, which really shows him later in the series and his wise words on love.

You remind me of Tolkien, who is amazing at description, and who could probably go like, 12 pages just describing how a tree branch moved! And you do the same, but you did it in barely any words at all and I applaud you for that. It's really hard to make someone feel something, or question something but you did that and for that I truly admire you.

Author's Response: Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! I'm very pleased to hear that you think the result is beautiful. It was a strange feeling to go so deep into Dumbledore's heart and draw out his pain and regret. He has so much of it and it's almost overwhelming, yet at the same time, it's so tainted by his arrogance. He's a troubling character to write, and it's wonderful to hear that, despite the challenges, he did in fact come to life - his emotions are real.

It's been hard to think of how to respond to this review - I think the comparison to Tolkien has me reeling. You mean it in a good way, of course, but seeing it gave me a start because I tend to associate Tolkien with too many descriptions, what happens when an author gets too deep in world building and lets it get in the way of actual movement, be it of plot or character development. I've been working on making sure that each piece of description is necessary - revealing something about the character or providing atmosphere. Sorry, it's something I'm self-conscious about, especially after having to hear some of my students complain for a term about Tolkien's writing style. *hides*

However... self-consciousness aside, it means a lot that you can see the improvement in my writing and that my writing style is poetic and beautiful - Wow! I have dabbled in OF, and I tend to use fanfiction as a way of writing first drafts to try out different types of plots, styles, and characters. I have been drifting away from fanfiction a bit lately - I think it's finally time to start seriously writing OF.

Thank you again for your review! It's so lovely to hear these compliments from you!
Tagging you from Review Tag!

I loved the poetic nature of what you created here. Poor Albus, wallowing in the grief and loss that seem ready to overcome him. In one moment, he lost his beloved sister and the one, true love of his life. It's horribly sad and you gave that sadness a really touching and beautiful treatment.

Would it be better to divide the soul than suffer beneath the yoke of pain? -- I feel like that's a question Albus struggled with a lot in the aftermath of the duel that ended Ariana's life. There must have been a temptation there to simply give in to the darkness and at least reclaim his relationship, such as it was, with Grindelwald. I doubt it would have happened because Albus doesn't seem capable of that level of self-deception. He knows that Gellert didn't return his love in the same way. But to simply ease the pain by pretending that he might must have been tempting.

Gellert knew how to use it. A symbol, he had said, to show why and how they need us. Raw magic in all its brilliance, bursting from the fractured soul of a young girl. -- That's a very different and interesting take on what ultimately led to the duel between Grindelwald and the Dumbledore brothers. I think most people have assumed that Gellert saw Ariana as a burden that Albus should be free of, not as a pawn that could be used to rally witches and wizards around his philosophy of magical supremacy. It's clever and it adds a complex new layer to Albus's guilt. If he entertained, even for a moment, the possibility that they could use Ariana to demonstrate why magical people should take control of the muggle world then that makes him even more complicit in her death.

There is laughter in the distance. It fades before I can resurrect him, shaping his form from the dead snow so that a single burning touch could fell him, so that he could melt at my feet as I had at his. -- Another really powerful image. Albus can't even find the strength and determination, it seems, to cast aside his guilt and loss. Not even in a symbolic way.

This was a fantastic one-shot. Really beautiful and artfully crafted. Great job!

Author's Response: Thank you very much for stopping by again! It was great to see you pick up my review swap - I hope to do the same for you in the near future. :)

In regard to Albus's temptation, I had wanted to allude to was the possibility that he and Grindelwald were researching horcruxes, or that Grindelwald had mentioned them at some point. But I much prefer your interpretation, making the division of the soul metaphorical, in which Albus would shut out his better side, his good judgement, in order to stay with Grindelwald. It's really the only way he could have remained in that relationship because Albus simply doesn't have the same degree of ambition as Grindelwald - there are certain risks he'd never take, certain sacrifices he couldn't make. Perhaps he was already coming to the conclusion that the friendship was doomed to failure, but he had chosen to disregard that intuition.

There are so many what ifs involved in this event in wizarding history. It's overwhelming to try and consider them all.

Grindelwald was selfish and reckless, but he was brilliant, and I'd like to think that he would have considered, even for a short while, using Ariana to benefit his schemes. Her condition had been caused by Muggles, after all, and if he wanted to control Muggles, why not give other wizards a reason to believe him - "look at what those monsters did to a poor magical child". For Albus, such an idea would be convenient, allowing him to both stay with Grindelwald and take care of Ariana, but I would suppose that in his haste to please Grindelwald, he would have forgotten about Ariana's well-being and about Aberforth's love of Ariana. It was an interesting idea to consider in this story, and it's great to hear that you see how it could work, as well as how it complicates Albus's guilt.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! This is a fantastic review!
Review tag!

Brilliant!! I've been interested in reading a Albus/Gellert story for a while - glad I found this!

I really like your twist on canon where her death was a bit less than an accident. It fits so well that Gellert would want to use her untapped magic to increase his own power. The idea that a besotted Dumbledore might let him feels reasonable given how much of his ideals he set aside for Gellert.

The line at the end with Dumbledore admitting that he had been the one to kill her was so powerful, bold, and sad.

You've done a wonderful job with the word limit. I feel that telling this story with more words would feel unnecessary and burdened after reading how well you crafted this narrative.


Author's Response: Thank you! It's great to hear that you liked the twist - it felt like a risk to try it, but at the same time, it seemed like a reasonable extension of Albus's guilt if he truly believes that he was the one who killed her. It doesn't need to be true - he just needs to believe it is.

The relationship between Albus and Gellert is one I've love to explore further because it's complex, especially on Albus's side - it forces him to choose between morals and ambition, reckless desire and a difficult, seemingly mundane role as caregiver. It's strange because love is a significant concept in the Potterverse, something that tends to drive characters to be "good", but in Albus's case, it failed him, and in the end I think it destroyed him.

There's a lot there, plenty of unexplored territory that JKR's left behind. :D

Thank you again for your compliments! It's fantastic that you enjoyed this one-shot and its minimalist style. ^_^
Hey Susan, here with your requested review! By the way, I do intend to make it back over to Black Sands sometime soon -- it's just a matter of finding time to devote to it.

I really love the tangible regret Albus feels in this piece. I think it's only appropriate for his character to go about it in a complicated, poetic way, but I can still sense his emotion beneath that surface. The symbolism of the snow is interesting because it suggests that it covers Albus as much as it covers up the memories of those who can never return. In particular, I liked the image of the wind hitting the shutters; it's like he's just standing against the cold, waiting until it finally topples him over. Perhaps it would be comforting to join the others.

It's hard for me not to comment directly on the description in the passages concerning Ariana because it's just stunning. Albus treats her with this lightness, this fragile touch even after death. I sense it's an old habit of his, the way he extends her a sort of reverence because it is well known how powerful she can be without even trying. Yet I see this understanding between them. This piece of the narrative is especially interesting because we have Aberforth's claim from canon that he was the favored of her brothers, and perhaps she had a closer relationship with Albus than either he or Aberforth realized--or wanted to realize. I think of it like they feel the similarity between them, that they both possess powers that could be threatening if used improperly. Maybe I'm off track now :)

As for Gellert, it's clear that Dumbledore is unable or unwilling to disentangle his romantic attachment to the man from his knowledge of Grindlewald's dark intentions. I have to admit that I don't feel as deep an understanding of Albus's feelings toward Gellert as I got from reading about Ariana here, though I know you had word count constraints. I did like the brief glimpse we got of his motives, in terms of the greedy look in his eyes and the way he "knew how to use" Ariana and her power.

I'm not very familiar with Coleridge, so I'm afraid I can't comment too much on the poem or the symbolism of the Albatross. I think the theme of suffering in the wake of an error is universal nonetheless, and it definitely felt tangible for me.

Nice work! Hope this review is helpful.


Author's Response: It is helpful! Thank you very much, Amanda! :D

The poem was more of a touchstone, something I added halfway through writing to help shape the story's plot - it does work to add another level to the story, the brief allusion replacing the need for a long explanation, but otherwise it's not necessary. There is a lot more symbolism beyond it, as you've found. I really like the idea of the snow also acting as a cover for Albus. This could also imply the persona he shapes for himself in future years, acting as the wise old man when inside he's still aching with guilt and desire. I see now another allusion, albeit unconscious, to Eliot's "The Waste Land" with the lines "Winter kept us warm, covering / Earth in forgetful snow" - the snow allows him to bury the dead, bury his memories, and bury his guilt. It's silent, and thus it doesn't judge him. This is perhaps why he doesn't join the others - as much as he'd like to, he still fears their judgment.

I'm very glad to hear that you liked the passages regarding Ariana so much! There definitely is a strange understanding between them, the kind that can't even be described, but it's still powerful. I like to think that what Albus resented was having to care for her and always be protecting her, etc. rather than Ariana herself - there's nothing to say that she didn't share Albus's genius, especially since even Aberforth had a kind of genius too. It's a wonderfully murky part of canon, so reliant on hearsay, but that's what makes it fun to write about. :D

The depth of connection between Albus and Gellert is lacking, but that is on purpose. For Albus, it's almost that first crush, or first lust, I should probably say - he has a physical desire for Gellert and adores the other boy's brain, perhaps because Gellert is the only person he knows who is smarter than he is. There's no real emotional attachment between them - all he desires in Gellert's absence is the physical touch, nothing more. Ariana is the focus, and Albus is torn between mourning her and being happy that she is freed from her curse. I'm pleased that the difference between the two relationships was evident - with the word constraints, I didn't think it would.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! As always, it means a lot to hear your feedback. ^_^
Okay so first of all, as a bit of a poetry buff, I love The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and I love how you compare the situation to it, and the description of the chapter 'I shot the Albatross' is just so absolutely perfect for this story that I can't even think of anything you could use even remotely better!

This is a really lovely piece, I feel like it has layers upon layers and I'll need to really keep on reading to even get to the second or third layer here. It's lovely, and I can't believe you wrote this masterpiece in only 500 words, Easier said than done, right?

I don't read enough on Dumbledore, I really don't, and even when I see him in other stories he almost always seems like that whimsical old man. I don't know. I liked the seventh book because it told more about him, and I like this for much the same reason. I feel like I'm not even scraping the surface of what you mean here, so I won't comment on it.

This story is like poetry, I can sense that each word has a place and much deeper meaning and a reason to be there and could use much deeper analysis, but yet, I'd much rather just soak it in and enjoy the beauty of it and your way with words.

Sorry if this made no sense! I guess I'm just tired. :)

Author's Response: Thank you very much! It's excellent to hear that you love Coleridge's poem and that you also like how it works into this story. :D The second half of this story really became indivisible from the idea of the poem, its themes and images, and of course that line.

Whoa, your compliments! I don't know what to say, especially because I don't remember this story being that hard to write except of course for the brevity issue. So much of my focus was on staying within 500 words and being able to describe everything (especially the canon material) sufficiently within that space, that I don't know how much of the content was actually intentional. Readers are coming up with meanings and symbols that are undeniably present, but I don't remember putting them there. It's strange - and amazing - to find out how many layers there actually are.

The image of Dumbledore was the kindly old wizard in PS is incredibly misleading, yet there's a lot of humour and whimsy in Dumbledore's behaviour at times. He's one of the most difficult characters to grasp because he has too many layers all shrouded around his guilt and frustration, and especially his selfishness. It reappears in his plan for Harry in the end - above all, he's always sought this abstract idea of the greater good, yet it causes far more death and suffering than good. It's why I'm drawn to writing him as a younger man, when all of these things are still fresh to him and he's not yet able to repress his emotions or his frustration at the slowness of others. There's a lot one can do with a character like this.

Your final paragraph is the perfect compliment - it's everything I wanted to do with the style and structure of this story, and it means a lot to hear that all of those things worked as well as I hoped they would. ^_^

Thank you again for taking the time to read and review this story!
Hi! I'm here for the TGS Review Swap :D
(I'm so excited and nervous that I finally got you and sjfhksfudfjdfsd I hope you don't hate my story /end freakout)

I had to read this multiple times, mostly because it didn't sink in upon reading it the first time. There's a poetic tone to it and so many techniques and the language all carefully chosen to come together as the final piece... it all reminds me of beautifully crafted poetry. Something I would have to physically study for days on end to truly appreciate every single line following another until I could appreciate it properly as it should be. It reminds me of all those times in school were I poured over my anthology book disecting each and every word in order to write pages upon pages on a poem that filled up less than a quarter of a page. In truth I miss those days so I was immediately filled with nostalgia once I had gotten to the middle of it.

I love the Albus/Ariana/Gellert dynamic as a whole - they're so interesting to research and venture into because there are so many possibilities and feelings and just the events themselves are tantalising and I couldn't bare to leave it alone myself. I started writing something focusing on Ariana a while ago (that reminds me I should pick it back up after newfound inspiration after reading this!) and since then I've just been gravitating to their same kind of stories. I hadn't realised you had written this until the swap so I'm lucky that I was paired with you to find another gem!

The story itself is so heart-wrenching and reminds me a little Of Mice and Men and Lennie's demise - both characters who you wouldn't expect such events to happen to and then the effect of those events that turn to death very suddenly and startlingly. It really brings out the emotion of the whole thing and blah I can't properly say what I want to say. There's just... no words for such beauty.

I love the idea of making Ariana's death more deliberate than it was - mostly because it shows that even through all of Albus' selfishness and his wants and needs and state of mind he still wanted to protect his sister from Gellert - he knew that he was going too far and it seems he couldn't bare for Gellert, no matter how he was in his blind eyes, couldn't take Ariana as well. It's a very difficult and strange decision to make - the feeling to want to protect something and the only way to do so is by killing them. Even through Albus' want to protect his family he still didn't think logically - just in the moment where he thought he could solve everything and didn't think of what could happen afterwards.

And when you describe what Albus would do just for Gellert to love him back its one of the most extreme versions of other relationships in the book - Harry and Ginny, Tonks and Remus, Lily and James and to some extent Ron and Hermione. All pairings that had one-sided love at one point or another and all the different and hidden ways of how each character had to deal with them and then with Albus where you see that he didn't have anything or anyone to stop him going mad and filling himself with Gellert and nothing else. Harry, Tonks, Hermione - they all had people relying on them, a world to save, bigger things than them revolving around them, needing them. Who needed Albus as much as that in his eyes?

It's sad in the end that he will never know what Gellert did for him by not revealing Albus' secret and how he would live for the rest of his life with this burden - how we are blind to him as a person when it all starts as he puts baby Harry in front of the Dursley's door. His life we could never fathom, his choices, the struggle and even when he put a pause (hardly an end in my eyes) between Gellert and him when they duelled. What happened between them then? Obviously something bitter enough that so many years later when he was drinking a potion of emotional pain he still couldn't let go of Ariana or Gellert.

I think I've rambled enough for now, sorry about that! D: This was extremely thought-provoking and I look forward to the day when I can make time for reading this as well as the poem by Coleridge!

Beautiful work as always Susan,
Hannah ♥

Author's Response: Wow, this is long and lovely, thank you so much! My review for your story will never be able to match this (my reviews lately have been patchy at best) - it means a lot that you took the time to draw this amount of detail out of this story. ^_^

Eek, I don't know what to say to your compliments except a big thank you. I did start this story as a poem and it kept expanding from there, and it's fantastic to hear that such a beginning influenced the rest of the story. A lot of it does have to do with the word-count limit because it really does make you sit back and think about the most efficient way of writing a sentence, or describing a scene, or even expressing a character's emotions. It's far from the way I usually write, which is what makes the challenge as effective as it is. From what it sounds like, the limitation of 500 words resulted in every sentence, even every word, containing a lot of meaning, often multiple meanings at once. It definitely makes it harder to read because a person has to keep pausing and thinking - it's not always a good thing, but I'm very glad to hear that it worked in such a positive way for you. :D I'm also like that with poetry and short stories - I really love the ones that force me to read them over and over again to grasp the whole thing. And even then, there's still more. For me, it makes these stories a lot more meaningful and hard to forget. I'd love to be able to recreate that experience, and it's fantastic that I was able to do so for you with this story.

The possibility that Dumbledore wants to "save" Ariana is a frightening one because it's one of those impossible decisions - damned if you do, damned if you don't. I remember seeing in canon that they were planning on taking Ariana with them, and I wondered why - it can't just be because Dumbledore's her guardian, and even the idea that he did it to keep her out of St. Mungo's was... strange to say the least. It would protect her from becoming a test subject, but it also means that she can't receive the treatment she needs. But what if Ariana also worked into Gellert's schemes? I aligned Gellert's beliefs with those of the Third Reich and imagined what if he wanted to show her off as a victim of Muggle brutality? What would they do with someone in Ariana's condition? Perhaps the Dumbledores' worry that Ariana would be exploited by science was a genuine concern, and her wild magic could be harnessed? There are so many things that could have been going on - the potential is incredible.

The one person who did need Albus was the one he betrayed - Ariana. His knowledge of magic and his ability to research and discover new things... he might have found a way to help her control her magic, but he never tried. He instead did everything to further himself, leaving his family behind - selfishness drives him, and even in this story, he feels sorry for himself more than anything. Even as he laments Ariana's death, he dreams of what he could have had with Gellert. Like the mariner in the poem, Albus made the wrong decision, and it cursed him for life.

You make a number of fabulous points in this review - it's not rambling at all, but rather it's a huge pleasure to read it. Thank you very much!
Hello Susan! I'm back again, and twice in one day! (It helps that I'm urged by the TGS challenge currently going on).

I love Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." LOVE it. It was one of my favorites way back in high school and still holds a special place in my heart. I, too, think it is interesting to compare the story of the Mariner and Dumbledore. If you think about Coleridge, his beliefs, and much of his poetry, imagination played a very large role. If I'm not mistaken, he believed that a good imagination was a way to transcend awful/terrible/unpleasant circumstances and situations. I don't know if this was intentional on your part, but I see that with Albus here. He imagines a kiss from Gellert, he has a dream - it's all very symbolic and allegorical - particularly when he mentions the dream, it seems that he abandons his surroundings momentarily and enters this temporary, imaginative space. Furthermore, the poem is about violating nature, and by extension, so is the death of Ariana. Although we all die and that is nature itself, it can be argued that murder violates the laws of nature.

I like that you mirrored the allusion of the Albatross. Like the mariner, the Albatross/Ariana is the defining symbol of his "mistake" - the burden of his sin.

In general, it's all very intriguing and allegorically driven. I'm actually very jealous at the mastery of this piece. It straddles the line of literary - I'd say it's on the side of literary. It's a English nerd's dream. Very splendidly done, Susan! I enjoyed it immensely and can't wait to read your response! (Sorry if I went a bit literary analysis on this!)


Author's Response: Twice in one day definitely is a treat! Thank you for stopping by, Shelby!

It is one of the greatest poems around (despite what Wordsworth will say about it), and while I can't remember how I connected it to Dumbledore's story, there is an interesting parallel to be found between the old mariner who is forced to tell his story over and over again, and Dumbledore, who lives for years, crumbling at the edges because he refuses to tell the story. Instead it's told for him in Rita Skeeter's biography. In a way, Dumbledore becomes like Ariana, the guilt eating away at him until it eventually explodes and he instigates his own death - it becomes the only way of redeeming himself.

There is a dream-like quality to this story that relates well to Coleridge and his way of using dreams to enhance his work - "Kubla Kahn" is the best example. I'm thinking over how much of the story has to do with the imagination, though. The way that Dumbledore is able to recreate his memories through allusions to poetry and myth - as well as his ability to dream of what could have been with Gellert - demonstrate the power of his imagination. But they only partially disguise the reality of the situation. He tries to manipulate himself into seeing it as a dream, but all that he's left with in the end is an affirmation of his guilt - the one thing he wants to avoid.

The death of the albatross is the great violation of nature that brings destruction on the mariner and his ship. It's important that, in Dumbledore's case, the act of murder - particularly of one's sibling (which in turn alludes to Cain and Abel and that other great violation of nature, fratricide) - also brings the curse down on innocents. Both Ariana and Aberforth are destroyed by Dumbledore's betrayal (it doesn't even have to be murder - just because he claims responsibility doesn't actually mean that he did it), just like the mariner's shipmates.

It's far more allegorical than I meant it to be. But that's not a bad thing at all. It's fantastic how much you were able to draw out of the story - it's been a joy to read through your review and see how well this interpretation works. I love having literary analyses done on my stories - it never ceases to amaze me how much a story can contain that the author hasn't consciously included.

Thank you again for your wonderful review! ^_^
Ah Susan you are the master of description. You are SO talented with description you could write a story of 2000 words only describing a scene, a character's feelings, looks, smells, tastes. There are only two authors on this site whose descriptions simply blow my mind away, and you are one of them. When I read stories like this on your account, I feel like I'm reading Russian literature; difficult but endearing, with layers upon layers to the story, scenes and happenings naked to the eye. Because it's plain that you've put a lot of thought behind the plot of this story and only showed us a small part. What's unfolding behind the scenes is like the part of the iceberg under the water.

This piece is worthy of Dumbledore beyond a doubt. There is something about his musings that's so full of sadness and regret, it makes my heart heavy with sorrow for him. I never really realised it before but he was as much of a tormented soul as Snape has been, living in the shadow of his mistakes, his young, foolish dreams. His mistakes cost him Ariana's life and a weight like that is enough to crumble even the strongest. I think you were very skilled in capturing his portrayal as he was sitting in front of her grave, snow falling all around him. Snow is a literature motif that reminds me of death, hopelessness, stillness. I know it's a sombre perspective, but despite my great love for winter, used like this creates an atmosphere of heaviness, of suffocation. It makes me want to reach out to Dumbledore and offer him something of consolation, but in cases like his, nothing said can ease one's self reproaches.

Simply brilliant my dear Susan. I always take so much pleasure from reading your stories and this one was no exception :D

Author's Response: Thank you very much, Debra! It's fantastic to hear from you, and even better to hear that you enjoyed this story. Eek! I can't get over your compliments. It means a lot that you like the descriptions in this story - you've tempted me to write more descriptions again and to post a challenge about description-writing. :D I used to do more, but I always worry that descriptions take away too much from the action. It doesn't take long for descriptions to add up to something worthy of a nineteenth-century novel, and sadly it's not a style that people seem to enjoy anymore.

But OMG you just compared the descriptions to Russian literature and now I REALLY don't know what to say. I love how you've described this story as a series of layers and an iceberg. It's far more than I expected from this story (while writing, the word count was foremost in my mind, so I don't know how much I actually thought about the pieces of the story). So much of it occurs in Dumbledore's mind and memory, revealing his selfishness and what it's lead him to, circling inward until he can finally put his guilt into words (not even his own words, which is an added layer).

Ugh, your reading of the snow is perfect. I thought of it as a blanket that covers Dumbledore's guilt, but it also represents the suffocation he felt while having to care for his siblings, and now for the stillness and heaviness of the empty house. There's so many things it stands for, making it a fantastic symbol to use, especially for a story that takes in many of these meanings.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! I wish I could provide a better response, but I'm still too much in awe of your review. ^_^
I actually never read the poem you mentioned. Now that I have read this though I'll probably check it out. To be honest this is the first fanfiction I have read that concerns Dumbledore and Ariana's death. I know, sad isn't it that I haven't read more of them?

The thing I realized while reading this is that though this is a one-shot it felt like I was reading a poem. A soft, sad, elegant poem. There may not be stanzas or rhyming or anything poem like in this but I actually felt like I was reading a poem. It is probably because of how you phrased yours sentences and how you portrayed the events/memories. Everything flowed so well. And I loved that reference to Icarus. It was a nice touch. Mythology always is.

Adding that paragraph(s) on how Dumbledore wanted a simple sign from Gellert that he cared was sweet. I remember reading an article a long time ago. It said that J.K. Rowling admitted that Dumbledore was in fact gay. It was a shock at first but then I realized it made sense. So those details on Albus's feelings reminded me of that.

"Magic, not tears, fell from her eyes, her every footstep imprinted with wasted power." This is my favorite line. It really stuck out to me.

Beautiful job as always.

Author's Response: Oh do read it! It's one of those "important" poems, but it's also really interesting with its Gothic elements. :D

Ariana's death shows up a few times in fanfiction, but it's not hard to miss those stories because they're usually one-shots. Most I've read look more closely at Ariana, though, whereas this story concentrates on Dumbledore's reaction after the fact.

It's wonderful to hear that you thought of this one-shot as a poem! The first lines started out as a poem for me, and somehow along the way it transformed into a fanfic, so I'm glad that it still feels poem-like. A lot of it comes from the rhythm of the lines, the use of shorter sentences, and the brevity of the story - it wouldn't be difficult to rearrange the lines and end up with a free-form poem. I've never been able to do that with a whole one-shot before, so it was a fun new writing experience. :D

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and review!
Hey! I'm here for our TGS review swap!

This is a brilliantly done story. i've read it twice now and the story just leaps from the screen so vividly. I think it's really cool what you've done with it. It is such an unknown history and you've really added some interesting elements to it that have captured my imagination. I really wish there was more on this and who Ariana was in the series or somewhere to flesh out the moment more. It seems like a really rich history and i've always been curious about it.

One of my favourite elements that you've added is the raw magic that seemed to be pouring from Ariana. I've never thought of it that way. Also with how you made Gellert try and harness that power was really powerful and showed not only his manic desire for power and greatness with no empathy of how it would affect others. It really tied well with the story of Dumbledore and showed a lot about his character. What was chilling for me was his willingness or ability to sell his soul to the devil for Gellert. It was a good backdrop to have this story take place though. To show Dumbledore's guilt and emotion with all that in mind.

I also liked how it wasn't much of an accident. I mean, i'm still left guess how intentional it was and why Dumbledore did it in the end. Whatever the case it's taken him to the point that he'd even think about splitting his soul to ease the pain. It just shows the turmoil that Dumbledore is experiencing, the weight of The Albatross rests on his shoulders and is left festering in his soul.

I like the rawness of this. how it shows Dumbledore at one of his lowest points in life and that he still seems young. He still has a lot of growing but has already experienced so much with his life.

This is the type of story that i think I may never fully get. Not that i don't find it beautiful and the imagery wonderful. I can experience what Dumbledore is experiencing but it just seems like there are layers in this story that a simple read won't uncover and different interpretations that a person could come to about why Albus did it. Was it to save Ariana from Gellert or something else? I liked the confusion of this though, the ambiguity and how it isn't just laid out for us. It reflects what Dumbledore is experiencing- the angst and confusion and how he doesn't really understand it himself at the moment. All he knows is that he's taken down a picture of innocence and from there his life has fallen into chaos. Really beautiful story here!

This is really great piece and i loved reading it. It's amazing that you can fit so much into one piece and that there are so many metaphors and symbols littered throughout that really bring the story together. This is really great and i'm glad i was able to read it!!

Author's Response: Thank you for this lovely review! I'm pleased that you enjoyed the story (those swaps always give me a spot of worry - I'd hate to leave someone with a story they don't end up liking) and it means a lot to hear these compliments from you!

The history of the Dumbledore family is very rich, and the taste of it that we gleamed from the books only leaves one wanting to know more - we know the barest details, and it's almost impossible to understand what these characters were like at that time, or just what was wrong with Ariana. Her disability is an interesting aspect of Rowling's magical world because it gestures toward the source of magic and more explicitly demonstrates how easily that source can be corrupted. Magic becomes a curse, like an extra part of the soul - it's not like other fantasy stories where magic is connected to one's life force.

Now that you mention the way Albus is willing to sell his soul for just one kiss, I can see how Ariana's "corrupted" magical state can reflect Albus's own corruption, how he constantly places his own desires ahead of his responsibilities, even ahead of his own needs. And he's loved someone even more selfish than him. This realization could tear him apart, driving him mad, yet somehow he bears the pain - he spends the rest of his life with this pain, living by it. Maybe this is why he sacrifices himself in the end, seeing that sacrifice is the ultimate virtue in Rowling's magical world - it's the only way he can relieve his pain and find redemption. His story is incredibly complex, not merely because of his long life, but moreso because of how he lived it, every event in his life seemingly to have a considerable effect on wizarding history.

I love to hear that you like the rawness of this story. :D That's the kind of emotional impact I was hoping for!

You're not alone in not being able to fully get this story - reviewers keep pointing out things that I didn't notice when writing that only add another layer to the story. There are many ways of reading the images and allusions. I wonder if part of this has to do with the limitations of the word count - it's harder to be exacting with only 500 words to work with, leaving a lot more room for interpretation. Another important thing is of course the way that none of these characters actually know what happened - Albus takes the blame, but it does not necessarily mean that he's guilty of the actual murder. It all happened in a moment, and it's significant to note that, in this story, Albus is remembering - all we're seeing are his memories, the snatches of light, colour, and sound that he pieces together in his mind. There's nothing that can be pinned down as "truth".

Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! ^_^
Well, it's hard to know where to begin with this...

First of all, I'm really impressed that you managed to fit so much into such a short story. Every word really does count here, and you made each one do so. It's just so well crafted and I can tell you've put so much thought and effort into it and that makes this a real pleasure to read.

The imagery and metaphor that you employ in this story are really beautiful. There's so much I can pick up on and talk about and hopefully you don't mind but I have a feeling that this is going to be quite a long review :P

I absolutely love the parallels that you draw between Ariana and the Albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In the poem, the Albatross is a sign of hope, bringing order to the chaos, and the men receive good fortune from its presence. In shooting and killing the Albatross, the Mariner and the crew suffer the consequences; the Mariner becomes a devil-like character in contrast to the innocence of the Albatross.

It's absolutely fascinating to use that as a metaphor for Ariana. The idea that Albus is willing to go to hell for Grindelwald even though Ariana is dead suggests that he has almost undergone a similar transformation after killing such an innocent creature. Although it's an unusual interpretation for Ariana to represent order in the Dumbledores' life, it is true that when she died the brothers almost descended into chaos, as we know from the fight at her funeral.

The mentions of the weather as well - the bitter winds and waves - tie in brilliantly with the poem, and evoke the idea that Albus is experiencing turmoil in his mind, perhaps like the storm in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

I loved the allusion to Icarus in this story. The idea of the innocent Ariana chasing freedom but flying too close to the sun and falling because of Albus's desire to show off his brilliance works really well. Coupled with the metaphor you've used of Grindelwald as the sun - as Albus's sun, at the very least - it's really effective.

This description was beautiful: "his eyes were lamps, pale and burning, like the feverish spots on his ashwhite cheeks". I could be reading far too much into this, but it reminded me of blood on snow; a constant reminder of what Albus has done.

The characterisation was perfect. I've never read an Albus so young, or so complex in such a short piece. I thought you conveyed his internal conflict and confusion amazingly; there's a sense that, in spite of his grief and anguish because of Ariana's death, he still longs for one last, stolen kiss from Gellert, and he's almost angry with Ariana for dying and taking that away from him.

I got a really strong sense of Ariana's character in this one-shot, even though she's not always the main focus. The way that Albus and Gellert relate to each other is enthralling. Gellert takes on the role of the leader in their relationship, and Albus, who always seems so wise and strong in the books, is led into making the wrong decisions because of his feelings for him.

The snow as well; a constant silent presence. It kind of covers up the dirt beneath, offering a pretty cloak to hide the secrets, but in the end it will melt and the truth will come to light once more. It's something unavoidable that Albus can't escape from.

The last two lines were perfect. They brought the story to such a suitable conclusion, and even though I've never thought of Ariana's death being portrayed in this way before, I loved it.

Since I've now successfully written a review that was longer than your story, I'm going to stop over-analysing every little detail of the story. I'm currently questioning why I've never read anything you've written before, but you can be sure that I'll correct that mistake as soon as possible. Really, thank you so much for asking me to read something of yours!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Oh this review! It's long and lovely - thank you very much for taking the time to be so detailed, Sian. It means a lot to receive a review that's longer than the story itself - obviously there was a lot in this story to unpack, which makes me excited to respond to this. :D

It is almost a contradiction for Ariana to represent order in Albus's life, but she was a centre for his existence - he was rooted to England by her, and so much of what happens to his family centres on Ariana. In this way, she could represent order even though she herself is a chaotic body. Or perhaps it's the paradox of finding order in chaos. What you've said about Ariana's death changing Albus's life, descending the two brothers into chaos, is perfect - neither is the same again. Even Albus's successes are tainted - he defeats Grindelwald only when he has to, then he refuses the position of Minister of Magic, finally dying a ruined man. It's amazing how much of their lives hinges on that single moment - they (and Gellert) separate, going their own ways, but they can never escape this point in time, its consequences resonating for a century. The more I think about it, the more extraordinary wizarding history becomes!

You know, I didn't purposely align the image of Gellert as the sun with my allusion to the Icarus myth - it must have happened unconsciously because I'm not that good by any means. :P It's perfect, though, and I'm very glad that you took note of it! There's the added connection of the albatross with Icarus - both symbols of freedom and hope, but both die because of someone else's vain desires. I wasn't sure whether all of these images and allusions would work together - or worse yet, if they would overwhelm the narrative - but now I see how nicely the pieces fit together. Thank you for showing me this side of my story! :D

You are spot-on about the image of blood on the snow. On one level, you have the red-haired Albus surrounded by snow, then on another, more metaphorical level is the blood on his hands. It's a powerful image - blood on snow - and I couldn't resist evoking it.

Albus's adolescence certainly shows through in this story - he's a literal mess of emotion, an image of storm and stress. To return to the idea of chaos, Albus shares Ariana's chaos only emotionally rather than magically. It's fantastic to hear that you liked this characterization of him - it's the second time I've written him as a teenager. He's more human during this period in his life, long before he's hidden himself behind multiple layers - the professor, the wise old man, the flamboyant fashionista, the manipulator, etc.

You're not the first person to mention Ariana's strong presence in this story. It's interesting because she's so peripheral - even when he's memorializing her, Albus thinks of himself and his feelings, never hers.

Thank you again for this fabulous review! I could say more in response to what you've written, but I think I'm fast running out of room! Needless to say I greatly appreciate what you've said about this story. ^_^
I must read the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner again. I only remember the refrain. It is a haunting piece as is your story.

I particularly like the line "Magic, not tears, fell from her eyes, her every footstep imprinted with wasted power."

I think you definitely caught the struggle between Albus and Gellert perfectly.

Author's Response: It's one of those poems that, no matter how often I return to it, I discover things I hadn't noticed before. It's certainly a haunting story - while one may forget the exact lines, the images of the dead albatross and the voyage through all sorts of horrors is hard to forget.

Thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! I'm very glad to hear that you liked that line - it was a late addition, yet it's crucial for the portrayal of Ariana here. It's a challenge to describe the details of her disability, and I liked the idea of describing it as a surplus of magic rather than an absence of control over that magic. Of course Grindelwald would see it as a waste, a power source that he could harness to create something new - a superhuman magical being.

I was so surprised when you replied to my thread, but happy too! I've missed your writing and you have not failed me yet. The emotion, the intensity, drama, all of it is just... amazing.

I love how you captured every moment until the very end, without a single piece of dialogue. That's not easy to do, and you perfected it. I honestly don't know what else I can say and that's a good thing.

I would LOVE to read more of your writing, so don't hesitate to request again. ♥

Author's Response: It was excellent to see you back again on HPFF! I couldn't resist nabbing a spot in your review queue. :D Thanks very much for offering and for reviewing this story!

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this story, and that the emotional intensity came through. One can't be sure that it will, even in a longer work, but it's even more worrying for a short one like this - with so few words, can one still evoke the desired level of feeling from readers?

It's funny, I never even noticed the lack of dialogue until you mentioned it. XD This is what comes of being someone who doesn't talk much. The story is rooted too deeply in Albus's consciousness - and the lack of dialogue also emphasizes how alone he is now, abandoned and alienated from the rest of the world. He gains his later wisdom from this, I think, from having only himself for company, and being able to see the world from the outside.

I don't want to ramble on any further - my responses for this story are much longer than the reviews they're for (not to mention than the story itself). Thank you again! :D
This is absolutely, hauntingly beautiful. I'm not familiar with the Coleridge poem, but it seems to fit perfectly, and I loved the reference to Icarus.

The thing that struck me most about the story itself was the amazing description. I could practically SEE Albus standing there, watching the snow collect in the letters of Ariana's tombstone; I could almost feel the snow beneath my feet. You really made me feel as though I were in the story, and that is talent!!

The story also gave me some complex questions about Albus' relationship with Gellert. This is the first story I've read that addresses his feelings, and it's made me wonder - Did Gellert feel the same way about him? Did he reciprocate those feelings, or did he simply use Albus' feelings against him? I know these questions aren't totally related to the story, but it's just the line of thinking that reading this gave me.

All in all, this is amazing! Well done! 10/10!

Author's Response: Thank you for stopping by this story! It's great to hear from you! :D

The poem is definitely worth reading, especially if you're interested in fantasy - it's also one of the sources for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, so if you get the chance, give it a try. :)

It's fantastic to hear that you enjoyed the descriptions - it's challenging enough to write descriptions in a regular setting, but for a story of this length, one has to par back so much. The balance between description and action becomes even more crucial, and it's easy to let description take the back seat. Thank you so much for those complications - it means a lot that, even with the limitations set by the story's length, it was still able to bring you into the moment and make it come alive.

With Albus and Gellert, I've always had the idea that it was a one-sided relationship, where Albus at some point fell for the dashing, charismatic stranger from abroad. Gellert probably abused Albus's affections or maybe he just loved the idea of being adored, of having someone constantly worshipping him and doing whatever he asked. There's still a lot of Albus's perspective that I'm not certain about - there are too many ways of interpreting his love for Gellert, and not enough information in canon to narrow it down. I'm glad that this story made you think more about their relationship, though. This story highlights the selfish aspects of their relationship - how Gellert was willing to use the Dumbledores to further his own schemes, and when they fail, he flees; how Albus finally finds someone like him with ambitions and power, only to discover how selfish those things make a person. What Gellert actually feels is left out - not because it's irrelevant, but because it's inscrutable. Was he even capable of love? He's not like Voldemort, being too wild, far more based in uncontrolled, gleeful ambition than the dark hatred that consumes Tom Riddle. Grindelwald is a better villain than Voldemort because he's more complex and harder to read - he's not the opposite, but the equal.

I'm going to stop now to thank you again for reading and reviewing this story. :D Your review has left me with a lot to think about!
Hi! I'm here for your requested review! :)

This was such a lovely, beautifully written one-shot. I'm very impressed that you fit it into 500 words, which is very tricky to do, especially with a story that has so much significance and meaning behind it. The one flaw in having such a short piece is that makes much more sense for readers who know the background and context of the story and what happened with these characters. But then again, the majority of your readers would know the context, so it works! :D

First of all, I am completely enthralled by your use of symbolism in this piece. The idea of shooting the Albatross, or Ariana, symbolizes the slaying of innocence for no particular reason, as well as a burden that Albus must bear for the rest of his life. His Albatross is invisible but something that we know weighs heavy on his shoulders for the rest of his rather long life. I definitely think this was a very strong metaphor to use. It was also interesting how he wondered if it would be easier to have split his soul, because he wouldn't have had to bear with that pain. I think this depicts a very different and younger Albus than the one we see in HP: one who is so grief-stricken and guilt-ridden. The aged Dumbledore would never have considered the option of splitting his soul as being appealing.

I also loved how you tied in the Albatross from RoAM with the story of Icarus, and when I think about it that is such a perfect comparison. The visions of Ariana, of innocent Icarus seeking freedom, and of the curious Albatross "falling" from the heavens is such a poignant one. It's interesting to think of Daedalus (Albus) trying to fly higher and higher and revelling in his own brilliance, which Icarus (Ariana) flies too close to the greatness of the sun and is the one who dies for the leader's pride and mistakes. It reminds me a bit of Paradise Lost and the Fall as well.

Also, I enjoyed your use of the metaphor of the sun, and imagined the sun representing Grindelwald. Albus brings Ariana too close to the sun, and she melts and falls. Albus himself melted at Grindelwald's feet. There was no more light once Grindelwald left.

The portrayal of Ariana's death as being of Grindelwald's planning, to harness and use her power, was very interesting as well. It actually fit very well with my idea of canon, and of that encounter. I loved this bit: "Magic, not tears, fell from her eyes, her every footstep imprinted with wasted power." With a few short words you truly conveyed Ariana's existence, and it was very powerful.

Oh! Going back to RoAM/Icarus, I loved how this story read with the language of being on a ship in the sea. The mentions of the cold, and the mist, and how the paragraph structure seems to rock back and forth, almost imitating waves of thought going through Albus' mind. I suppose it relates to the passing of the old year to the new: going on a journey from which he cannot return.

I am so sorry, I definitely just went all English lit on your story! But as you can tell, I thought it was rather wonderful and a very lovely piece of art. Well done! :)

Author's Response: Wow, this review is incredible! I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to respond to this. Thank you very much for taking the time to be so thorough and detailed in your review!

I agree that knowing the context is very important with a story this short - one doesn't have to rely on explanations and background information. It's something that will be a challenge when writing original stories of this length. The brevity of this story lead me to remove Aberforth, so I suppose that for OF of this length, one would keep having to remove details, things that don't matter to the moment of the story.

It's great that you liked the use of symbolism here - again, it requires readers to understand the context, but you've perfectly explained how this allusion works within the story. Ariana both represents the Albatross before and after the mariner shoots it - she is already a burden to Albus. It struck me in DH that family in general was a burden to young Albus, whose ambitions were smothered by his sister's disability, his father's incarcerations, and his brother's oddity. He's unable to escape the hold they have on him, and I imagine that he - with his genius - would be constantly frustrated by these ties that hindered his progress. Yet when he does lose them, he discovers a new tie, a new albatross: guilt. In this instance, I made it so that he is overwhelmed by emotion, by the loss and the knowledge that he did not appreciate what he had (when he had it) and, furthermore, caused its destruction.

I've been trying to think of a way to work through Albus's desire to split his soul. Albus wants to lose his humanity because it's too painful to feel - to love - whereas Voldemort wants to lose his mortality. I don't even know if it's possible for Albus to feel any less guilty if he split his soul - it's an irrational idea that demonstrates the confusion he is experiencing after suddenly losing everything.

Ooh, it's a relief that the combination of Icarus and the Albatross wasn't too much - I realized at the last moment that they might not be compatible, and that including two such allusions in such a short story was overdoing things. I hadn't thought of the implication that both are about flying and falling, the impossibility of breaking free - and both are sacrificed to ambition and careless desire. Thank you for mentioning this - it's an incredible way of reading the story, and I wish I could say that it was done intentionally. There are certainly Miltonic overtones in this as well - Gellert as the silvertongued Satan who remains untouched by the fall; Albus who suffers in the pit of (his own) hell; and Ariana, who does not survive the fall. Gellert is a strange entity, and in my uncertainty of what to do with him, he became many different things at once. To associate him with the sun captures two, contradictory meanings - he is this source of light (especially for Albus) who is physically beautiful (like Apollo), yet he's also dangerous, fiery and consuming. It partially draws on associations JKR made in the books of magic with light and fire - Ariana is consumed by the power of her uncontrolled magic and she is killed by a spell (which is meant to be controlled magic, yet in the hands of the passionate and unstable, it also consumes).

In regard to Ariana's death, I meant to imply that Gellert wanted to use her as an example of why Muggles need to be ruled - she would be an example of a victim to draw pity from the masses. At the same time, her instability inspired his ambitions to harness a new kind of power - she would then become a power source, like a nuclear bomb.

I love how you went all English lit on it - it's a rare treat, to be sure, and I really appreciate it. It's amazing how the things one has read and all of these images become entangled in a story, even when one isn't consciously putting them there. That's the magic of writing - and of all art, really. Thank you again! ^_^
Review tag!

I read through this a few times, and each time I noticed new layers. I can't really do it justice in a review, but there was such a poetic flow to the writing that manged to make such efficient use of every word.

These events were such a pivotal era in Dumbledore's life, and we only really got a brief description of them in the books. You really conveyed the whirlwind of emotions Dumbledore experienced, from being seduced by Grindelwald's vision of power, to watching his family be ripped apart, as well as realizing that Grindelwald was not the person he though he was and questioning everything he believes in.

The analogy of the albatross was well used, and while the thought of Dumbledore intentionally killing his sister may be a bit disconcerting, the overwhelming feeling of guilt and regret was very well captured.

On another note, the historian in me absolutely loves picturing young Dumbledore in the same Victorian setting as Holmes and Watson.

Author's Response: Wow, thank you! :D One thing I like about this 500 word challenge is the need to not only make every word count, but to include as much as possible within those words. I wasn't sure whether enough of the story had come through - I had so much in mind about the Dumbledores and Albus's interactions with Grindelwald that it seemed like there was no way of fitting it into this structure. It is, however, excellent to hear that it isn't the case, that the story still conveys as much as I hoped it would.

It's still up in the air whether Dumbledore purposely killed her or not. If he did, it was either because he believed he was doing her a favour or because he worried about what Grindelwald would do to her, how he would use her as propaganda. It doesn't make the act right in any way, but I wanted to put that possibility out there. There's too much left unsaid in the series - it's not even known whether Dumbledore feels guilt and regret because of Ariana's death or because he loved Grindelwald. An incredible amount of potential is lost in a single moment, and it's great to hear that this story managed to capture that effectively.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing this! It was fantastic to hear your feedback! :)
Ok I know I should be reading and reviewing This Longing, but I saw this sitting with there with no reviews and I couldn’t resist!

Ah that was amazing! Why has no one reviewed it? The imagery, the personification, the emotion you evoked just everything was amazing. Ah, I loved everything; it was so wonderful and so beautiful! It was perfect and a wonderful portrayal of Albus and Gellert. Ok I’ll stop gushing now and try and write something coherent.

All the things I’ve read of yours have been in third person, so I was taken by surprise by seeing that this was written in first, but I loved it. I think it was fitting that it was first as we got a better sense of the complexity of Albus’ emotions and how though he loved Gellert he loved his sister.

Then there was there guilt about he still wanted that one kiss from Gellert. I almost sensed some anger that his sister died and, therefore, took that kiss away from him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many emotions work so well together in such a short piece. I think the best thing about the emotions was that they were all backed by reason which made it even more effective.

I also really liked how we got such a sense of Arianna’s character despite the fact this was only 500 words. Your characterisation of her was brilliant and perfectly captured that sweet and endearing girl she was described her to be. The way you tied in her fear of her magical talents was, again, really effective. I’ve read quite a few stories about this time in Albus and Gellert’s life and none of them drew upon Arianna and her pivotal part in all of this as much as you did.

Your descriptions in this were amazing! I’m still sitting in awe of them right now. If I had to choose the best one it would have to be this one ‘his eyes were lamps, pale and burning, like the feverish spots on his ashwhite cheeks.’ The contrast you use between ‘pale’ and ‘burning’ caught what I imagined Gellert must have felt. The pale seemed to show his coldness towards it all and how he was trying to supress the emotion, yet with the ‘burning’ it showed intense emotion. Perhaps it was love, or fear or even hatred. I think the anonymity of it all is the beauty of it. It always leaves me wondering whether Gellert really loved Albus or he was merely using him to entertain himself.

Then the way you personified snow as this silent observer of some many events. It was brilliant and so clever. It reminded me of the Arianna’s portrait in The Hog’s Head. She’s just sitting there observing all the scenes around, and not commenting on them, much like the snow really. Then the bit about snow being silent was a great paradox. It related back to the fact that we would never know the truth, and the only thing which could do so was an inanimate object.

The last two lines were perfect. I think it was due to the simplicity of them, as it showed the bareness of the human emotion yet how they represented so many other things as well. They really left me thinking about Arianna’s death and how strange it was that we only find out about it at the end of the series, yet the impact of it resonated in the wizarding world for years.

Ah this was just perfect and I should probably stop gushing now! Another brilliant piece of yours ♥


Haha, I just realised I managed to make this review longer than the story, oh well!

Author's Response: Thank you very much for this review, Kiana! I wasn't sure about this story and whether it was good at all, but the fact that you've been able to write a longer review than the story, and that you've said so many wonderful things, helps to put my mind at rest. Well, it means a lot more than that too. Your compliments leave me all asdfghjkl and I'm really glad to hear that the things I did in this story worked out this well for you. :D

This story began in third person, but it didn't feel right - it needed to be closer to Dumbledore to make sense, especially for the ending. You know, I used to love writing in first person, but I've gotten away from it for the most part - it takes a special character or an intense moment to require that readers go inside a character's mind. The danger of it is that you can only see what that character sees, which sometimes works, but at other times (like in "Out of Time") it meant limiting the story to a larger degree than I would have liked. In this story, by seeing Dumbledore's guilt from the inside rather than the outside, the readers have to do more work to put together the pieces that Dumbledore alludes to, but it also means that the readers themselves are implicated alongside him.

What I liked about writing this story was how confused Dumbledore's emotions became. Like you said, he's angry at his sister's death just as much for it causing Gellert to leave as for the death itself. It's important to remember that he is a teenager who has undergone far more than he should - he's had to grow up sooner than he was emotionally capable of doing - and at this point, his concept of right and wrong is blurred (it's important that it's not that he confuses right with wrong, but that they no longer seem like separate entities). It's fantastic that you liked how his emotions worked with this story!

Ooh, that's interesting to hear, that Ariana's personality came through, even in 500 words. To be honest, I hadn't thought much about it while writing - I had a clear idea of how Dumbledore saw her, pitied her, loved her in his own way, wanting to help her by taking her away from England. She must have been an extraordinary person though, like her siblings - I wish that she had appeared more within the series so that we could get a better idea of who she was and how she dealt with her disability. I'm very glad that she turned out to be a pivotal part of this story and that her presence is so strong, even in 500 words.

Those words, yes. Interestingly enough, the combination of burning and pale for the Victorians would have implied illness, especially consumption. But with Gellert, you're right that it's more about the intensity of passion. I wouldn't call it emotion, since Gellert doesn't experience feeling or empathy - everything for him is exaggerated so that he knows rage and thrills, but nothing in between. The flush on his cheeks is dangerous, alluding to his lack of control. If you take it one step further, it could be like blood on the snow - Ariana's blood on the snow that covers her grave, or Albus's red hair against the snowy landscape. The snow is a wonderful thing in that it blankets the world, covering up the bleak, brown dirt - so at once it provides a disguise and security. But it's all only temporary - the truth comes back to haunt Dumbledore again and again.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! I can't describe how much it means to read and respond to your feedback! ^_^


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