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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!