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! ^_^