This was such an amazing portrayal of a young Dumbledore--well, of any character, in fact, because it was so layered and complex. He's selfish, but extremely willing to be the martyr and shoulder the weight of his family (although I suppose martyrdom could be construed as a form of selfishness). He's disdainful of his family, but not so much that he will cast them away. He seems very detached, and yet he's so strongly affected by losing his family members. There's so much to contemplate and unravel with his character, and it's just astounding that you could fit so much into such a short space (and do it so well).
This a Dumbledore that's really not much like the one we see in the books, but I think that, from what we DO know of him as a teenager, your portrayal is very accurate.
And, you know, just as a concept for a a story using the staff challenge prompt, this is so interesting. I tried to write an entry but found that I couldn't think of much to write beyond...well, an exam. And here you managed to write not only about an exam, and really get across the image of Dumbledore as a student, but also tie it in to a life-changing moment for him.
The canon psycho in me does feel the need to point out that it should be "Ariana" with one "n", rather than "Arianna". But, hey, I figure if all you have to be worried about in a story is a few extra "n"s here an there, you don't really have much to worry about at all. ;) It was excellent!
Author's Response: Thank you very much for this; it's a fantastic review and I'm not sure how to respond without bursting into maudlin gratitude. I myself don't get the fuss about this story, but hearing praise of anything I write can't do anything but make my day. ;)
As I wrote Albus, I thought mostly of his surface actions - the way he looks down on his family (on most people, in fact) and thinks so rationally, without emotion - but it was too difficult to ignore the knowledge of who he would become, what he would be like as an old man. It's interesting that you saw him as upset over losing his family members, as I saw him as upset only because it meddled with his own plans. I hadn't thought of why he did not cast off his family, but now that you've mentioned it, I don't know what to think about him. If he does feel something for his family, then why does he act otherwise? What is he doing by treating his siblings so poorly? Writing a sequel to this would be quite a feat, showing what happened as he met Grindelwald up to the death of his sister, if only to see his transformation.
For the challenge, I originally wanted to do something with him and Grindelwald, but that didn't work into the timeline, so this came about. There's supposed to be a connection between the unanswered question and the death of his mother. I can't remember exactly what that was meant to be, but it had to do with forgetfulness - Albus forgets the answer and he forgets his family. (It sounds a lot more mushy than I intended it to.)
Yep, got that now. Thank you very much for pointing that out. It's one of those things that I'm anal about too, if only I could figure them out beforehand. ;)