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Review:nott theodore says:
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. ^_^

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