Title: A Thousand Mirrors
Rating for this Chapter: PG (for mild swearing)
Overall Rating will Be: Hard R
Pairings that will at least be mentioned:
Harry/almost everyone in the books
Summary: Harry discovers a room in Hogwarts filled with a thousand mirrors. Each mirror reflects one possibility of the future, showing the viewer one year of that possible future. After they have lived the year, they are given the choice to keep one thing they have earned in that reality, then are flung into the next reality, with only the belongings they have earned thus far. Will Harry stay sane long enough to get home? Once he gets home, will he even be Harry anymore?Fractured Reflections
"Hey Harry, aren't you going to come to dinner?" Ron called cheerfully over his shoulder, one arm wrapped around Hermione's waist, completely ignoring the fact that they were in the library and supposed to whisper.
Harry smiled briefly at Hermione's expression, which wavered between affection and irritation at Ron's disrespect to her sacred space. It was a state she had been stuck in ever since they had started going out during the summer.
"I still have some research to do, I'll catch up in a little bit. Don't wait for me."
Ron frowned. "Again? Come on, mate, you are starting to sound like Hermione."
"Ron Weasley, don't say that is such a disapproving tone! I think it is an excellent thing for Harry to be doing some studying in his free time. NEWTs are only a couple of months away, and don't think that you can afford to be slacking off just because-" "Oh come on, Hermione, they are over a year from now! Harry should be allowed to relax once in a while, you know? He will do fine. Its not like he is a Hufflepuff, or anything."
Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Please, Ron, everyone needs to study for NEWts, not just the Hufflepuffs."
Harry grinned and waved them towards the doors. "Go on, you two. I will be fine, Ron. Just save me something to eat, 'k?"
Hermione paused in her glaring to give him a fond glance. "Of course we will, Harry. Just don't stay up too late."
"I'm serious, Harry."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. I'll be good."
"Good. See you, Harry."
Harry watched his two best friends walk away, arm in arm, suppressing pangs of jealousy. He loved them both, but it had gotten harder to feel like an equal part in their trio once Ron and Hermione had started dating. More like a third wheel, then the third best friend.
And so he had gradually started drifting away from them. It was a subtle process. First he had started staying behind at the library in the evenings, allowing them to go off alone together, then he had stopped always being at meals with them, then began to walk with other people on the way to class, and soon enough he barely spent time with them at all.
He sighed, and began loading his book bag. He really wanted to finish his essay for Potions, but he had promised he would meet Dobby tonight to give him his Christmas presents.
Apparently, after last year's fiasco with the Twins' gifts, Dobby did not want to wait till Christmas morning to give or receive presents. Harry couldn't really blame him. So Christmas Eve it was.
He flung he backpack over his should and headed out into the hall. He had said he would meet Dobby in the old DA room. It was the only place Harry could think of that would be comfortable and yet have no chance of stray snoggers stumbling in. If he went in wanting to open presents, it might even put up a Christmas tree or something.
By the time he had gotten to the door, he wanted nothing more than to lie down by a warm fire and pass out.
He had been stopped twelve times on the way by well wishers, each one determined to congragulate him on still being alive, despite Voldemort's best efforts.
It was hard accepting their praise, when he knew that for every year he lived, more people risked their lives to keep it that way.
What he needed was someway to protect them, keep them alive, and defeat Voldemort without risking everyone's lives.
He pushed open the door to the room.
And almost fell over in shock.
Instead of the pretty Christmas decorations he had been half expecting, the room was covered in mirrors of all shapes and sizes, their surfaces covering every wall, even hiding the ceiling from view.
There was no light, and he cast a hurried "lumos."
Harry turned around slowly, mouth hanging open in awe. The mirrors gleamed with wandlight, their silver surfaces shining like diamonds.
Each one was differently shaped, with different decorations along the edges. From the doorway he could see that some were covered in precious gems, others were stark rectangles, completely without ornamentation, while elaborate carvings of fantastical design surrounded the rest. The frames ranged from a few inched wide, with abstract patterns, to over a foot in width, with carvings so deep as to almost be in the round.
Fascinated, Harry stepped through the door, desiring to see the mirrors in more detail. In the flickering light, the images almost seemed to move, flowing around and through the mirror edges.
He walked up to one of the more adorned mirrors and attempted to make out the details, but even when he brought his wand right up against it he couldn't make out what they were. After a few minutes, he gave up, and was ready to walk away when something caught his eye.
In the furthest corner of the room was a large, dusty frame with no mirror inside of it. It wasn't nearly as eye catching as some of the mirrors covering the walls, it wasn't covered in jewels, or made of gold, but inexplicably Harry was drawn to it. As he got closer, he realized that the deceptively thin frame was covered in tiny raised images that covered every inch of the rather plain metal.
Attempting to get a more exact picture of the details, he leaned in until his nose was almost touching the frame, and clouds of dust were raised by his breath brushing the surface. Slowly the figures started to crystallize, becoming definite pictures.
In surprise, Harry realized that the images formed a storyline, one that continued all around the frame of the mirror, and that if he concentrated hard enough, the people started gaining more clarity. Excitedly, he concentrated on a middle panel. Swirling out of the complicated metal etchings came a scene that closely resembled a Hogwarts classroom. Rows of desk faced a larger teacher's table, and on each table was a small cauldron. The desks were filled with students in long robes, and the students were all facing the front dutifully, as a teacher spoke. Harry fancied he could even make out what each of the students looked like. One looked a lot like Ron, with a tall, gangly frame, and older robes that didn't quite reach his wrists. Another Harry could imagine as Hermione, with bushy hair and a studious expression. He could even swear he saw a Malfoy, sneering haughtily from one of the front desks. And if he looked really hard, one of the students looked a lot like himself, small and inconspicuous, standing in the back of the room trying to hide. The student wore large round glasses, and Harry could almost see a tiny, lightning shaped scar on his forehead…. Harry leaned further in, trying to see what the figure was doing in the back.
Harry gasped as he suddenly lost his center of balance, and stumbled backwards, hitting the opposite wall, hard. The last thing he felt was a curious, cold, falling sensation, like he was slipping through panes of silver ice.
Harry blinked, rubbing his forehead with one hand and looking around. He was standing in the back of the Potions classroom, but he had no memory of how he had gotten there. The last thing he could remember was going into an odd room full of mirrors… and then he was here.
"And now class, I would like you to turn around and welcome our newest student, Mr. Potter." Snape's voice drifted from the front of the classroom.
The class turned in their seats and stared at him, and Harry fought the urge to try to disappear. What was Snape trying to do to him? He must have been late, and this was Snape's way of punishing him, by embarrassing him in front of the class. Snape continued speaking.
"Mr. Potter, as many of you know, has recently transferred to Hogwarts from Durmstrang, due largely to the increase in activity from Voldemort." Hermione stuck her hand up in the air, waving wildly, and Snape looked at her with a sneer. "Yes, Ms. Granger, he is that Mr. Potter, as I am sure you have already learned from your gossiping classmates." She kept waving her hand and he frowned in annoyance. "If you want further assurance, Ms. Granger, perhaps you can persuade him to show you his scar after class, but I will not tolerate such things in my classroom." Hermione lowered her hand, looking sour, and Snape turned back to Harry, who stared at him in confusion. "Now, Mr. Potter, please take a seat by Mr. Malfoy here, and try to follow along with the lesson. If you can't follow it due to language difficulties, please just ask for assistance. Otherwise, I'm sure that you will be fine." And to Harry's everlasting shock, Snape gave a small smile. "I'm sure that Mr. Malfoy would be extremely willing to render any help that he can, though."
Harry nearly fainted as Malfoy smiled (much more broadly than Snape) and waved him towards his desk.
He glanced nervously at Snape, who was waiting patiently for him to take his seat, and then back over to Ron and Hermione, and realized that no one seemed to be treating this as a joke. Harry made a quick decision, deciding that something must have happened to the castle residents, perhaps a case of fumes getting out from one of Neville's Potions disasters, and that the best thing to do was to go along with it and try to find Dumbledore as quickly as he could after class. More comfortable now that he had a theory as to what was happening, as well as a plan of attack (so to speak), Harry smiled back at Snape.
"Thank you, sir. I will try my best." Harry almost gave away the act in his surprise at the strange, harsh, accent that rolled off his tongue, but recovered quickly and made his way over to the seat next to Malfoy.
"I'm sure you will, Mr. Potter." Snape directed his attention to the rest of the class. "Alright, everyone, the show is over. You can all gape at the new celebrity after you have finished class." His voice was cutting, but was directed at the general class rather than Harry himself. "Now, please copy down the instructions from the board, and begin your Potion. We will be having a quiz over this, on Friday."
Harry sat down, quietly, and began taking quill and parchment out of his book bag.
"Hey, its alright, I already copied them down."
Harry turned, and looked at Malfoy, who was grinning and holding out his hand.
"Hi, I'm Draco. It is nice to meet you."
Harry blinked, but took his hand.
"I'm Harry. It is nice to meet you too."
"Oh, I know who you are, don't worry. Who doesn't know the name of the boy who defeated Voldemort while he was still an infant?"
"It wasn't really me, it was my mum," Harry protested, shaking his head, but not really knowing why he bothered. This friendly version of Malfoy probably wouldn't last past the day. "I didn't do anything that special."
"Yeah, yeah. I've read the interviews you gave. But I'm with Father on this one. Tons of mothers would have tried protecting their babies with their lives from Voldemort during the war. But only one baby was resistant to the Killing Curse afterwards. There is something special about you, Harry Potter."
Harry blushed slightly, partially in embarrassment from the praise, and partially in confusion. It sounded like Malfoy had actually given it some thought, beyond what was fed to the general wizarding population by the Daily Prophet and such publications. Even though he was curious what interviews Malfoy was talking about…
"Now, come on, Harry, let's get this Potion done. We can talk more after class, if you like. There is a lot about Hogwarts you should know if you are going to go here for a while. I could even take you for a tour after lunch, if you don't have other plans." He gave Harry a hopeful look.
"Ok. Thank you, M- Draco."
"Then why don't you go get the ingredients on this list, while I prepare our workspace." He turned to the cauldron and began muttering the spells that would make the heat from the fire distribute evenly.
Harry walked over to the supplies Snape had set out for the class and collecting the things Draco had listed. It was weird, working with him without insults, but kind of interesting. He wondered if this was how Draco always treated his own housemates all the time.
He tuned around quickly, and stumbled as a familiar form smacked straight into him, and promptly dropped the jar of toad liver he was carrying, spilling them all over the (relatively) clean dungeon floor.
"Oops. Sorry, Ron." He stooped over a little, to help clean up the mess, when he was shoved backwards, roughly.
"How do you know my name? Been spying on us already, have you, Durmstrang?" Ron stepped forward, scowling fiercely at him.
Harry frowned. "I said I was sorry."
Ron sneered. "Right, sure you are."
Harry could feel his face heating, a matching anger rising to meet Ron's. "Look, I wasn't the one who ran into someone, here, and I was the one who apologized. You don't have any right acting like you've been wronged."
"Shut up! You're just a filthy Dark wizard who thinks he can just waltz in here and expect everyone to bow at you feet, just because of a stupid scar-"
Suddenly Draco was at Harry's elbow, glaring right back at Ron.
"What's the matter now, Weasel? Trying to pin your clumsiness on the first person you see?"
"What are you doing here, Malfoy?"
"I go to this school, last time I checked."
"You think you're so clever. I bet you think you are better than the rest of us, don't you?"
"When comparing myself to others, Weasley, I try to compare myself to those who are approximately my peers, not my subordinates. I haven't even thought about whether I am your superior."
Ron's face registered incomprehension.
"Am I using too many big words for you? Let me put in more clearly. I wouldn't even consider comparing myself to scum like you."
Ron's face went bright red.
"Screw you, Malfoy. Stay the hell away from me, you aren't involved in this. This is between me and Potter!" He shook his fist threateningly in Malfoy's direction.
Harry felt his hand curl around his wand, and slid it out of his robes, ready to defend Draco if Ron attacked.
"Oh, but I am, Mr. Weasley."
Ron turned around, a look of horror on his face. Snape glared menacingly.
"What is the meaning of this?"
"Look, Professor, Potter crashed into me, look, he spilled this all over the floor..."
"Mr. Weasley, please don't lie to me in my own classroom. I observed everything that happened, including Mr. Potter's generous apology, and your subsequent prejudiced comments. The fact that Mr. Malfoy was forced to come and protect a guest of our school from another one of its students is disgraceful. That will be fifty points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley, and detention for a week."
"Two weeks. Now get back to your desk."
"Yes, sir." Ron turned and went back to his table, a sour look on his face. The other Gryffindors were divided on whom they should be glaring at, either Ron or Harry, and compromised by shooting venomous glances at Snape, who ignored them and turned to Harry.
"I apologize for Mr. Weasley's behavior, Mr. Potter. I can assure you that it is not a school habit. At least not a Slytherin habit." He glared at the Gryffindors, who winced collectively. Draco winked at Harry, who stifled a snicker. "Perhaps when you are sorted tonight, you might keep that in mind."
He turned and swept back to the front of the room.
Harry smiled at Draco.
"Thank you for helping me."
"Oh, no problem. I don't like the Weasel, anyway."
"Well, thanks in any case."
Draco smiled, shrugging.
"Well, let's get going. Snape likes you, but it will be hell to pay if we don't have a finished Potion by the end of class."
The two boys went back to their seats, happy in their camaraderie.
Harry barely thought of his best friends, now sitting and staring angrily at his back.
Harry sat next to Draco at the Slytherin table, fidgeting nervously. He hadn't yet talked to Dumbledore, and he was beginning to think that he shouldn't. It wasn't just the Potions class that believed he was a transfer student from Durmstrang, it was the entire school. And Harry was starting to think that might have somehow been flung into some kind of alternate reality, or universe, like he had read about in muggle novels, because he couldn't find a single hole in the story everyone was telling. He had even called his contact in Durmstrang, who had by their knowledge of his "past" affirmed that the phenomenon was not isolated to Hogwarts. Unless the entire world was under a mass hallucination, he couldn't otherwise explain what was happening. He had even sworn in German when he stubbed his toe at lunch, something he was positive he didn't know how to do.
The world he was in was close enough to the one he was from. Slytherin was still sneaky, Gryffindor was still courageous, Hufflepuff was still a bit slow, and Ravenclaws still a pain during finals. But in this world Harry Potter hadn't grown up with the Dursleys. He had been taken to his great grand uncle, a professor at Durmstrang and raised there, going to school until last month when the activity of a increasingly powerful Voldemort caused his uncle to send him to the protection of Albus Dumbledore.
The other, rather massive, difference for Slytherin house was Lucius Malfoy's defection to the side of Dumbledore after Voldemort had fallen against Harry. Instead of saying he had been under the power of Imperius, he had turned on the loyal Death Eaters, putting many of them away in Azkaban, and saving his family from ruin. Apparently, in this reality, he had decided that the orders of a mad and bodiless apparition were not ones that would lead to a profitable and long-lived existence.
After he had defected, the older, richer, higher classed families had tripped over themselves to follow suit. With everything to lose, and nothing to gain from Voldemort's return, they fled the crumbling forces of the Dark Lord.
Now, the only remaining followers from Slytherin were those who needed an upheaval in the system to gain power, those born into the middling families.
Harry himself now felt safer at the Slytherin table than the Gryffindor, which seemed to believe he was some kind of Dark, evil wizard due to his Durmstrang background.
At least if he got himself beat into the ground by a Slytherin, he would know it was for something he deserved.
Then he had to stop thinking and listen, because Dumbledore had stood up and was calling for everyone's attention.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, if I could have your attention for a moment, please." Slowly, the murmur of the hall died down, and Dumbledore favored them with a twinkling smile. "Thank you. Now, I'm sure you all know that we have a new student joining us tonight. Some of you may already have had classes with him. Yes, he is Harry Potter, so please don't bother with more speculation. He will be joining us for the rest of the year. Because this is a special case, it has been decided that he will not be sorted at the beginning of next year, as would be the normal course of action. I, and his uncle, feel that he needs the support a House will give him. And so, I give you, the Sorting Hat!" And Dumbledore sat down with a flourish.
Everyone's eyes were immediately focused on the old, battered hat in the center of the room. Harry had already know that he would be sorted tonight, so it wasn't too big of a shock to see it, but he still felt a thrill of anticipation at the idea of putting it on one more time.
He got out of his seat and walked up to the silent hat. He supposed that it only sang at regular sortings, and even a special sorting didn't warrant a break from this routine.
Nervously, he sat down on the waiting stool, and placed the hat over his head. It fit a bit snugger than it had last time he had worn it, but it still draped over his eyes, surrounding him in darkness. Than, finally, he heard the voice.
//Well, what do we have here? You seem to know a lot about Houses for someone who has never been in one.//
Harry felt a rush of worry. He didn't want anyone to get suspicious of him this early in the game.
I knew someone who went here. He told me all about it, about the Houses, and what each one is like.
//Harry, Harry. I can see into your mind, remember? You have done this before.//
//Indeed. Who are you?//
I thought you could read my mind?
//Hmph. Surface thoughts, and deep emotions, mostly. But I can tell when you lie to me. So don't get smug. So who are you?//
I am really Harry Potter.
//Truth, but not true. Let us try again. Where are you from.//
Harry frowned, mind flashing back to the room of mirrors before he could blank his memory.
//Ah. I see, that does explain it. The room of a thousand mirrors. It has been a long time since I have seen that room. You seem remarkably sane, though, for a traveler. So is this your true home, then, or a mirror you fell into?//
What? Wait, you know that weird room?
//But of course, I built it. The room of a thousand mirrors, a thousand possibilities of time.//
What is it, though?
//Oh, dear. Is this your first time, then? You really have no idea what you are in? No, don't answer. If it wasn't, you would have figured it out in whichever year you started in. You are a clever enough boy to do so without help. Do you wish me to explain it to you?//
Yes! Yes, of course!
//No need to be impatient, Harry. Where to start? Well, to begin with the room itself, the Founders were the first people to find the thousand mirrors since Merlin. They were the ones who discovered, quite by accident, what they did, and subsequently worked out the way that they worked. Merlin, the last user, had gone a bit mad after he had come out, (not having the support of three other friends to share the experiences with) and didn't ever record what exactly the mirrors did. It is the same with everyone before him as well, I suppose.//
But what do they do? Please, tell me!
//I'm getting to that! The thousand mirrors represent a thousand possibilities of the world, each unique, differing from every other, if only in a very small way. A person who looks into the design of the gateway, the mirror frame, gets trapped in the mirrors. The Founders looked at the exact same time, therefore they all went together. Anyway, the person, or persons, is then thrust into an alternate reality, but-//
So I'm trapped here forever?
//No, or course not. Only for one year.//
Harry smiled, dizzy with relief. As much as he had enjoyed Draco's company for the day, and would miss it, he couldn't imagine going without the company of his friends forever…
//Then you will get a choice. You may keep one thing from this reality. A favorite ring, or chair, or even a tattoo or piercing.//
That is interesting… Huh. Maybe I could bring back a Potter Rules! sticker with Draco's signature…
//Each time you will be able to add one more possession. And then you will go to the next reality.//
//You will go to the next alternate reality. And in one year, you may once again make a choice. And then you will once more go on.//
Harry let out the breath he had been holding.
How many times? How long?
The hat paused, and then spoke once more, sounding almost sympathetic.
//Until you have passed through every mirror.//
T-t-that "thousand mirrors" bit was just an exaggeration, right? Just a name? There couldn't really be a thousand mirrors in that little room…
//I'm sorry, Harry.//
A thousand years… I won't go home for a thousand years?
When… when I get home will everything be the same when I get back? Everyone still be there?
//Yes. But you, Harry, won't be. Your body will not have aged, but your mind… You will be changed Harry, inalterably.//
I can't believe that! I will still be me! Why is that room there anyways? You said the Founders put it there? Why? Why would they do something like that? They had to know that someone would find it!
//They did. It was meant to be found. There was a spell on that door, Harry. It would not have opened unless you needed to go through.//
Needed? What kind of bullshit is that? I didn't want this!
//I didn't say want. I said need. Voldemort is in your time, isn't he? Were you thinking about him when you reached the door? Did you need to defeat him? Were you wishing for a way to win without risking your friends, your loved ones?//
Oh, sweet Merlin.
//That room is meant to show you what you need, Harry. In a thousand years of gaining power and knowledge you may be insane, lost in the madness of changing reality, but you will have the strength to destroy Voldemort with your own power. You won't have to risk a single person in your life. You could save the lives of thousands, millions, if Voldemort had the chance to ruled the world if you lost. Your friends, I can see them in your mind. Ron, Hermione, Seamus, Dean, Ginny, Molly and Arthur, now Draco. You couldn't save your Godfather. This is the way to save them, Harry.//
I… I… A thousand years, alone?
//That is what kills people, drives them mad, Harry. Don't think that way. Your loved ones will be there. They might not understand you, but they will be there, still living and loving.//
I don't know if I can do this.
//In one mirror, Sirius may still live, Harry. You can tell him that you still love him, that you are sorry.//
But… he wouldn't be real, would he?
//It depends on what you believe is real. People in the mirrors act just like they would if it was the outside world//
But… would they feel like they do in real life?
//I don't know. I can tell you that I feel… But I could just be 'programmed' to say that. And to be honest, I wouldn't know if I didn't feel like I would in the outside world. It will just be something you will have to decide for yourself, how much you wan t to love while you reside in the mirrors.//
How come you aren't more upset about knowing you don't exist?
//Harry, that is something I can't really answer in a way that you would understand. But if you want an easy answer… No matter that the Founders put a bit of each of themselves into me, at heart, I'm still a hat.//
//Now, If you want to seriously become strong enough to protect those friends of yours…//
Firmly, Harry nodded.
//Then… it had better be-//
Harry walked over to the Slytherin house table, amid loud cheers from the table, and hisses from parts of Gryffindor. As he passed the teacher's table, Snape nodded, and gave him an approving glance.
Harry felt inexplicably cheered.
Harry stood in a dark space, where no light came, on a glowing mirror of ice, and saw the sharp voice, sparkling in multifaceted colors, and rich with sound. It was the first transition, but he stood straight, stronger than he had been a year ago.
WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?
Harry only hesitated for a minute, then held out the Slytherin badge he had been saving for this day.
"I want to keep this, when I go."
SO IT WILL BE.
And then he was falling, falling through silver, clutching that first lesson in his hand, tightly.
Ok, that was the first chapter. What do you think? It was definitely explanation heavy, by necessity. The rest will be all about the worlds Harry visits.
Harry will go through the thousand realities, but I will only write ten of them in full, with 5,000 words a universe, and 1,000 years for a yet to be determined number of flashbacks to other ones he visited. The last chapter, when Harry gets back to his own time, will be 10,000 words.
I have a couple of the 1,000 word bits written, and one other 5,000 that will come later, but I thought I might do a vote on what type of situation Harry should be dropped into next.
Harry was always a Slytherin
Harry is in training outside of Hogwarts
Harry deflected the Killing curse, but it didn't hit Voldie, and so he instead was taken by Voldie and became the Dark Lord's protégé
Harry is a magical creature
Draco is a magical creature
Snape is a magical creature
Harry meets a living Sirius, who is in a relationship with Lupin
Harry gets a snake
Harry was trained from birth to fight Voldemort, never went to Hogwarts, and has no other life but that goal
Harry leads a last ditch battle against Voldemort
The wizarding world has been conquered, and Harry is part of the last resistance
Additional/Alternative suggestions welcome