Thanks for requesting this; I saw a mention of it somewhere, and thought it sounded interesting, and then you popped up and I had the perfect excuse to sit down and read it.
You are good at writing the afterlife, aren't you?! It was interesting that you mention Ariana ruling the mysterious world and yet not entirely understanding it. Many rulers do that, don't they? The image of her is striking, and holds place with the girl we saw in Aberforth's portrait; Ariana is strong, accepting, nearly relaxed, caught somewhere in between childhood and adulthood and death.
This was an incredible line: "A desk is strewn with various objects: quills scattered across its surface like pick-up-sticks, stacked parchment, screwed-up parchment, a foe glass, a weeping man, his hat." It demonstrated so simply the path of Ariana's thoughts, and of the mood and organization of the room. How the man was just one more worn thing in the background. I didn't even have to read the next two or so sentences to get that impression. And then you introduced the contrast of the piano, and it was fantastic.
You asked about dialogue, and I will say that you have a talent with description that doesn't entirely extend to dialogue, merely in the way it isn't as obviously amazing. Your description was striking, rich, and had a thousand stories within it. Your dialogue was not as "wowing". However, it did do well in revealing more about your characters. Aberforth's hopelessness rings out, and the woman feeling a tad less deep as she tries to comfort him in vain.
What I liked about this was that it showed the two other siblings. When we think about the Dumbledores' suffering, we think of Albus and all he fought for and all he lost. We know of the infamous fight that tore apart the family, but we don't think about Ariana mourning in death or the true depth of the bond Aberforth shared with her. For some reason, this line brought it out for me: "They were stronger together." It simply summed up how two broken people had pushed on, until it was all shattered with Ariana's death.
There was a lot of blame in this story. Aberforth blames himself for obvious reasons, the friend hints at blaming the death itself for the terrible life Abeforth is living, and Ariana blames herself for her death. The story itself was haunting and sad as the last line, the telling of the worlds spiraling downward and downward terrible. Basically, that all adds up to a job extremely well done. It was a great read.
Author's Response: Ever since I finished Sitting in the Orange Tree I've missed it so much. I started a sequel, but it hasn't been quite the same and then when I was thinking about how to improve the sequel I thought of this and I had to write it. When you've been writing a fic for so long, it sucks having to let it go :P
I enjoy writing description so much that I tend to forget about the dialogue. Yep, guilty as charged. Over the last year I think I've got out of practice and so I'll be working on that as my task for 2011. Always working to improve :P
thank you so much for this fabulous review, it still brings a smile to my face ;)