Chapter 52 Through the Looking Glass
As she frequently did in her spare time, Luna Lovegood was gazing into her crystal ball in the Ravenclaw common room. What she was seeing seemed to be of interest to her as she was crouching over the ball with her nose almost touching it. Suddenly she jumped up, almost upsetting the ball, but paying it no heed and – quite unusual of her typical dreamy behaviour, - made a mad dash upstairs towards the seventh year girls' dormitory, into which she burst without knocking.
"Lyra!" She gasped breathlessly.
The older girl, who had been lounging on her bed, engrossed in a book, looked up.
"Luna?" Seeing her friend's excited state she dropped her book and jumped off the bed. "What is it?"
"No time!" Luna breathed, grabbing her hand and dragging her out of the room. "Mirror – Window - Harry – come on!"
Strangely, these cryptic words seemed to make some sense to Lyra; at any rate, she gave up her initial reluctance, and dashed after Luna of her own accord.
When they reached the second floor bathroom, it took Luna only a moment to find her bearings.
"Down there," she said matter-of-factly, pointing at the opening that Harry had gone down a short time ago.
"There? Are you sure?"
Luna did not bother to answer, but her look told the other girl that there was no question about that. And so the two Ravenclaws went down the tube and presently found themselves in the tunnel with the basilisk hide.
Luna stopped only shortly to take a firm hold of her wand and to motion for her friend to do the same; then they crept on silently, until they reached the tunnel opening into the chamber. They were just in time to witness Davies' spell that threw Harry and Fleur into the mirror. Lyra almost screamed, but when she realised that there was no shattered glass, no broken frame, and, most importantly, no sign of Harry and Hermione, she began to understand. Her eyes wide with astonishment, she looked over at Luna, who smiled back at her triumphantly.
Roger Davies had clearly not expected the effect his spell had had, and was still gazing unbelievingly at the spot where Harry and Fleur had disappeared. Thus, he was completely unprepared for the Expelliarmus and Petrificus totalis that simultaneously hit him from the two girls' wands.
"Good work," Lyra said, breathing deeply. "Now, what next?"
Luna gave her a surprised look. "After them, of course."
"But – what about – ?", Lyra gestured to the prone form of Roger Davies.
"Oh, that? Incarcerous!"
Magical cords wound themselves round his arms and legs.
"Can you do a Patronus?" Luna then inquired.
"Yes, what for?"
"Send it to Dumbledore, or Flitwick, or someone, to come and clean up here. We should not wait for anybody to come down, they are sure to stop us, and that's not what we want to happen, do we?"
"But Luna, you can… I mean, this is my own quest, there's no need for you to…you really shouldn't…"
"Rubbish," Luna said with a look that expressed more than words what she thought of that idea. "Of course I'm coming!"
So Lyra conjured her Patronus, which looked exactly like her parrot, Orest, and it flew off to the tunnel.
"Off we go," Luna said cheerfully, and it was extraordinary how her usual dreaminess had changed into full alertness.
Together, their wands at the ready, they stepped through the mirror.
When Harry and Fleur could think clearly again, they found themselves in a heap on the stone floor, stunned with the surprise but otherwise unscathed. They clambered to their feet and looked around, bewildered.
At first glance, the place was not a lot different: The same stone floor, the same columns with the same snake-like decorations; there was, however, no sign of Roger Davies. And on closer inspection, their surroundings showed none of the signs of neglect and decay that abounded in the original chamber. Also, the carcass of the basilisk was nowhere to be seen.
The mirror, through which they had been hurled by the spell, was standing there, without even the slightest traces of damage.
"What was that?" Harry said, more to himself.
"You've just gone through the mirror," came Lyra's voice, sounding slightly amused, as she and Luna stepped through.
Harry and Fleur could only gape at the two girls.
"An Atlantean Portal," Luna said, sounding somewhat similar to Hermione's lecturing mode. "A gate to an alternative universe."
"But – what are you doing here? Well, never mind, I guess it's the getting back that matters…"
And he approached the mirror.
"I don't believe it will work, Harry," Lyra told him. I think it's a one-way portal. To turn it around, you'd have to use the proper spells…"
"Anyway," Luna said brightly, "We have just arrived, haven't we? I certainly am not going back anytime soon…"
"You mean you have planned to come here? What in Merlin's name…"
"It's a long story, Harry. But the main point is that Lyra is looking for her mother…"
"As Luna has said, it's a along and complicated story; but at any rate I have at last managed to go through one portal – they say the first time is the hardest to do… So I am definitely staying."
"But – Luna? What about you? You're not looking for anybody, are you?" Fleur asked.
"No," Luna replied cheerfully. "I'm just curious – and maybe I can write an interesting article for the Quibbler… But now that we are here, we'd better look around some, and see what we can do next."
Only now, Harry remembered what he had seen in the mirror before being thrown though it by the spell. He looked around, bewildered.
"Where are they?"
"Who?" Lyra, quite understandably, asked.
"My – parents… I - I saw – them…"
"Where, Harry?" Fleur asked softly, taking his hand.
"In – in the mirror – before… And – and my mother was speaking to me… Like – like in those dreams…"
He paused. Suddenly he looked at Fleur, horrified.
"She – she said I – I should – you were – you were betraying me…" Tears came to his eyes and he looked down in shame. "And I – I – almost – almost believed it…"
Fleur folded him in her arms and did not let go when she felt him go rigid. At last he relaxed, buried his face in her shoulder and gasped between sobs. "Can you – forgive me?"
She held him close until the shaking of his body subsided.
"It was just a mean trick of Voldemort's, Harry," she said quietly. "There is nothing to forgive."
"And I've not even – not even asked you what happened – I mean, - you and – and Roger… I really should have…"
"He Imperiused me – made me do all those things… there was nothing I could do… and I hated every second of it – oh, Harry, I feel so – so dirty!"
"Hush, love, you have nothing at all to feel dirty for, it's me that should – But – how did you manage to break the curse?"
"I'm not sure – he – after he had made me do all those disgusting things, he – he told me to say I loved him… oh, Harry, it was just too much… something snapped – I can't explain it…"
"It's your bond, your love," Luna told them quietly. "The special connection you have… He could make you do all sorts of physical things, you see," she said to Fleur, "But he could not control your mind. And that command was the last straw that made it possible for you to break the curse… Oh, you are both extremely lucky, you know…"
"But – but how did he get you here, of all places? You need to speak Parseltongue to open the access…"
"Portkey – my ring – oh, Harry! A hidden Portkey – remember?"
And it all came back to Harry, as he took Fleur's hand to examine the ring. It did not look any different at all.
"That shop," he said thoughtfully, "Do you think… it can't be… but then… do you think it was – planted on me or something? Well, it doesn't matter, I guess; it's just a ring, isn't it? We checked that, didn't we?"
Luna, however, thought differently. "I bet it helped you break the curse… it's Morgaine's amulet, after all… I told you it wanted to be free, didn't I?" she added, apparently as an afterthought.
"Yes, Harry. It does not belong in a setting… That's why your 'tests' didn't have any results…"
"Now this may all be very interesting," said Lyra, who had been looking around the place through this conversation, "But there are a couple of more pressing issues. It might be a clever idea, I believe, to be prepared for a surprise or more…"
"For example," said Lyra, "There is no sign of the monster that, - even though dead, - is such a prominent feature in the place we've just left…"
"The basilisk? You mean…?"
"A distinct possibility, I'd say," Lyra said drily. "What do we do?"
"Simple." Luna smiled her typical smile and moved her wand in an intricate pattern. "Here you are," she said and handed each of them a pair of bright silver glasses. "This should do the trick…"
"How did you…? Never mind, I guess. But – how can I fight it? I mean, I can't count on Fawkes again, can I?"
"Harry," said Luna patiently, "Why does it always have to be fighting? You can speak Parseltongue – why don't you talk to it? Is it really the mindless evil monster everyone says?"
"Yes, Harry," Fleur agreed. "Things are often not what they seem at first glance… And it's worth a try, I'm sure. And if the worst comes to the worst, - there's four of us, I do imagine we could at least get away without much of a problem…"
"Er – I guess you'll see about all that pretty soon, Harry," Lyra said, pointing.
Indeed, over towards the far end of the chamber, there was a movement of something very big.
"The basilisk," Luna stated flatly. "Or the Jabberwock, as it would be called in another place…"
"And – I do believe it's in some kind of cage or something," Fleur added.
They moved cautiously nearer, and it was really as she had said. A row of magical bars separated the creature's area from the rest of the chamber. The basilisk was there, coiled up, with its head turned towards the wall.
"It looks almost harmless," Harry whispered. "Shouldn't we leave it as it is and get out of here as fast as we can?"
"And never know whether it's coming after us? Not a very good idea, in my opinion," said Lyra.
"It looks so unhappy," Luna said thoughtfully. "It's not nice, being locked up like that…"
"Really, Luna …" Fleur began.
A sudden memory flashed through Harry's mind: He saw himself, all those years ago, looking at the boa constrictor in the zoo.
"Do you know – you might be right, Luna," he said with a smile. "Just – how do you address a basilisk?"
He thought for a moment and then said:
"Well, I'll never know unless I give it a try. Are you sure these glasses will work?"
Luna did not answer and just gave him her misty smile.
"All right, here goes, then…" And turning to the basilisk, he said in Parseltongue:
"Erm – can I talk to you?"
The huge snake slowly turned its head and looked at the humans. Now snakes, of course, have no facial expression, but it gave Harry quite a shock to see the dim light in its eyes that was nothing like what he remembered. Luna was obviously perfectly correct in her assumption – this creature certainly seemed to be extremely miserable.
"Why can't you leave me alone?" Even the snake language conveyed a feeling of resignation and tiredness. "Go away, Potter!"
Harry gasped in surprise.
"You know me?"
"Know you? When you come here almost every day to taunt and deride me?"
"Taunt and deride?"
Suddenly Harry understood.
"But I – I am not Potter – not that Potter, at any rate…"
"Not?" The equivalent of a sarcastic laugh sounded in Harry's ears. "You are not denying you are him, are you?"
"Listen," Harry said desperately, "I know this is weird… I am Harry Potter, but I'm not the Harry Potter that you seem to know… Me and my friends, we have just arrived through the mirror…"
The basilisk raised its head, and for the first time there seemed to be a spark of life, of interest, in its huge eyes.
"Just arrived? Through a mirror? From another world?"
"Yes, that's what it seems to be – I don't quite understand it myself… But I swear whatever person you know as Potter, it's not me…"
"True,"the basilisk said after a pause. "You look a bit different, especially your robes..."
"Tell me," Harry said slowly, "The Potter you know – you don't seem to like him?"
A deep growl came from the snake.
"I hate him! He has kept me locked up here for I don't know how long…"
"Excuse me for a moment, I have to explain to my friends," Harry said, having noticed how the girls were getting restless.
"I told you," Luna said with satisfaction, after he had told them about his conversation.
"It's not the dumb beast at all…"
"But what can it possibly mean," Fleur asked, "About the Harry Potter in this world… Can he be so very different from you?"
"I can't be sure, but this Potter seems to be rather nasty character…"
"That's what I mean by different, Harry."
"And it comes as quite a shock, I can tell you," Harry said thoughtfully. "I mean, what else will be different?"
"Quite a lot, I expect," Lyra remarked. That's why it's an alternative universe. Most likely many other things will be the opposite of what we know: Basilisk: alive instead of dead; Harry Potter: bad instead of good – perhaps downright evil?"
"And - my parents?" Harry's voice was shaking as a horrible thought reared its ugly head.
Fleur understood at once.
"It is at least possible, Harry," she said very quietly, taking both his hands in hers. "It was a trick of Voldemort's after all…"
"We will probably be wiser soon," Luna interrupted, pointing towards the entrance of the chamber, where something seemed to be moving. "Someone's coming…"
"Potter!"the basilisk growled, turning its head towards the wall again.
A/N: Just like Harry, I was not sure how to talk to a basilisk, hence the long interval. As you will have noticed, the underlined parts are the ones spoken in Parseltongue.
What else can I say? Ah, yes - review! And Gabriel - I'm still waiting for that comprehensive thingy you promised!