'Ello, my ducks. How are you? I'm doing rather well. My brother's team placed seventh out of twenty four teams in his World Series (this leaves me in a wonderfully good mood most of the time). I've revised this lovely little work, as it's former version was rather bad.
So…on to the story!
To Hermione's great relief, ten o'clock on that particular Tuesday night found Harry, Ron, and herself three of the very few left in the Gryffindor common room. They had all agreed that Hogwarts was the safest place to be considering recent circumstances, and had taken refuge in their old, familiar common room. The rest of the Weasley family and a few others had also moved in.
When Ginny and Hermione's parents finally trudged up the stairs to bed, Hermione let out a grateful sigh. "I'm off to bed," she said, gathering her books, quills, parchment and ink into her book bag and slinging it over her shoulder.
"Calling it a night?" asked Harry, looking up from the yellowing tome he was searching through.
"Yeah," she replied. "I can barely see straight just now, and I think I deserve a bit of rest."
"Wonderful!" Ron exclaimed, hastily dumping all of his things helter-skelter into his bag. "If you're going to bed, then there's no use in me staying up any longer, is there?" He beamed at her.
"Why is that?" Hermione asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
"That should be obvious," said Ron cheerfully. "It's nearly impossible for me to get any work done without you being here. I barely got through my homework back at school, and that was with you by my side every step of the way, wasn't it?"
"You're positively hopeless, Ron," Hermione told him, exasperated, but she was smiling.
He smirked up at her. "Well, yes," he admitted. "But that's what you're here for, isn't it?"
Hermione laughed and, with a final good night, climbed up to her dormitory.
Hermione was glad that Ron and Harry had decided to call it an early night. It left her more time to gaze, though she hated to admit to herself that she enjoyed it. Sometimes she felt as if an evil so profound she couldn't even name it was seeping through her very skin, knowing she was willingly torturing herself.
She called it gazing, you see. It was something she had come up with after having traveled down to that whitewashed room for the eighth night in a row. Her heart carried her back there every night, but she knew in her head that what she was doing was wrong. But as long as it had a beautiful name, she could deny that she was eating away at herself.
She hated herself for it.
But she did it anyway.
Silently, she slipped out of bed. Her silk nightgown made it easy for her to slide through the sheets unheard. Clutching her wand in her right hand, she slowly opened the dormitory door and crept down the stairs. She'd learned the hard way that thorough precautions were a necessity. The Fat Lady had caught her the second time she'd tried, and she'd had to bend over backwards to invent a believable excuse for being out (the portraits hadn't seemed to understand that Hermione and all the others staying in Gryffindor Tower were not subject to school rules).
She pushed open the Lady's portrait, careful to make sure the hinges didn't squeak. She stepped through and softly let the portrait swing back into place behind her, shivering in the cold of the castle with no sunlight streaming through the windows.
Walking quickly and silently, Hermione made her way to the Entrance Hall. When she reached it, she walked through the archway leading to the dungeons. She arrived at the end of the long corridor and climbed down the staircase there. After she sped along five more such corridors and five more staircases, she reached a wide hallway lined with ornate columns supporting the high arching ceiling.
Stepping quietly so as not to wake anyone (the Slytherin common room was just through one of the doors that appeared every now and then along the walls), she crept down the corridor and through the enormous doorway at the end of it. Now casting all previous prudence aside, she ran the length of the corridor, nine more like it and that many staircases.
She was very out of breath by the time she reached her destination, which she had reason to believe was at the very base of the castle, as no doors or passages led off from that corridor. She slowed to a trot just before arriving, and leaned against a wall for just a moment to catch her breath.
She had come to a stop in front of a large door. It was solid gold, decorated generously with beautiful gems, and designs had been carved into it by a skillful hand. Hermione knelt at the foot of the door and inserted the tip of her wand into the middle of a particularly large sapphire. The hole would not have been visible from her standing vantage point, and she only knew of it because of Dumbledore.
Ah, Dumbledore. Hermione smiled fondly at the thought. The wise old man had made what she considered to be his only mistake in revealing to her the secrets of the door and what lay beyond. Persuading him to tell her had been quite simple. She'd merely smiled prettily and explained that it would be such a wonderfully educational experience, and he had gladly elucidated the door's workings.
She was disgusted with herself for playing such a wicked trick. Then especially, with Dumbledore's death and Snape's betrayal hanging over them all, she would once have thought herself better than what she was doing; thought herself above such a distraction now, when Harry needed her most.
Rotating her wand slowly with one hand, she used the other to bring out a small medallion, which had been dangling underneath her nightgown. The medallion was a silver circle with the Hogwarts crest emblazoned into the center of it. Hermione turned the medallion so that the crest faced the door. Swinging the medallion back and forth on its chain, she began to sing:
With the Raven's great mind,
The Griffin's sweet song
The Badger's dear loyalty,
The Serpent's dark throng,
I come now before you
Oh, Glass of Desire
With great expectations
And a fierce burning fire
As the sound of the haunting melody faded away, the door gave a great groan and suddenly sprang to life. The gems embedded in the door began to shine, and the gold gleamed with the light of a thousand candles. Hermione sprang to her feet. Slowly, the door opened, revealing the small chamber inside.
She stepped through, and the door shut behind her, leaving her in total darkness. Holding out her wand (she had pulled it back after the door began to open) she whispered, "Lumos."A light shone from the tip and the room was thrown into sharp relief. It was a plain room with no furniture or decorations. The floor was covered in a thick, white carpet and the walls were the same color.
Stepping forward eagerly, Hermione fell to her knees before the sole object in the room: the Mirror of Erised. She pressed the two small knobs on either side of the base of the glass, closed her eyes, sang the song that had opened door, and –
Smiled. The image within the glass was one of perfection. She saw herself, standing in front of a door with the words 'HEAD GIRL' carved into a pretty bronze plaque. But she was not alone, for just next to her door was another - with the words 'HEAD BOY' on a plaque similar to hers – and Harry was standing in front of it.
But this Harry was not quite like the one she'd left upstairs. His handsome face was tanned and rosy, as if he had just come in from playing for a long time in the sun. The robes that he wore didn't hang on him as if he had just draped a large sheet around his body, but fit him well because mirror-Harry ate on a regular basis and hadn't lost more weight than was healthy over the last few months.
The thing that made mirror-Harry so wonderful was that he was smiling, smiling as if there was nothing more to be done than sit by the fire with a good book on a rainy night. Hermione hadn't seen that smile since the beginning of her fourth year at Hogwarts.
Mirror-Harry waved down at Hermione, making her smile. He stepped closer to mirror-Hermione and put his arm around her. Drawing her close, he turned her head and kissed her sweetly. Hermione smiled and sighed wistfully.
Then the image changed, and quite rapidly. The picture now showed the front of what look like a little village chapel. There were still two young people kissing in this picture, but she didn't recognize them at first. After a moment's consideration, she realized them to be herself and Harry, though much older versions. Mirror-Hermione was wearing a beautiful white gown and looked positively stunning, as did mirror-Harry in a handsome black tuxedo. Hermione then noticed all the others in the little building.
There were all her friends: Ginny, sobbing uncontrollably on Draco Malfoy's shoulder, who looked terribly bored with the whole situation; Parvati Patil and her sister, Padma, looking fit to burst with happiness; Neville, cheering in the front row next to Luna, who was serenely surveying the scene; and Ron, standing behind Harry as his best man, looking as if he might burst into ecstatic tears at any moment.
Hermione chuckled as she looked around at all her friends, happy for her on her wedding day. As that thought entered her mind, the image changed again. She saw a small room with whitewashed walls, along one of which was a bed with metal railings and lots of fluffy white pillows. Mirror-Hermione lay in the bed with what looked like a lumpy bundle of cloth in her arms. Mirror-Harry stood over her, beaming at the little bundle.
The image came closer, and as she neared the bed, she peered inside the little bundle. It was a tiny little baby, obviously not more than a few hours old. It was almost completely bald, but for a small tuft of shining dark hair at the very top of its head. Hermione knew immediately it was a child of Harry's because of the shining green eyes peeking out at mirror-Harry and -Hermione.
Hermione smiled, lost in a happy sort of numbness. But the image in the Mirror soon changed again. This next one was very simple. She knelt at the foot of the Mirror, Harry standing behind her, the Invisibility Cloak thrown over his shoulder and the Marauder's Map clutched in his left hand. Mirror-Harry was looking down on her with greatest concern. She smiled up at him, content with Harry as he was. Mirror-Harry smiled back.
"What are you doing here, Hermione?" he said. Hermione squeaked and whipped around. There was the real Harry, watching her with a worried look.
"Nothing," she lied quickly. She felt like kicking herself for being so naïve. Of course Harry would glance at the Map out of curiosity and see her down in the Mirror's room. Why on earth hadn't she thought of that?
Harry raised his brows at her. "Don't lie to me," he said. "I know just what you're doing."
"Then why would you ask?" she asked, and laughed nervously. She didn't dare meet Harry's eyes, fearing the disappointment she would find.
Harry knelt before her and grasped her chin, moving her face about until she looked him in the eye. With relief, Hermione saw in his face concern, not disappointment. "How did you know the Mirror was down here?" he asked, still holding her face in his hand.
"I – I asked Professor Dumbledore," she stuttered. "I told him it would be an – an educational experience of sorts, for me to research it."
Harry sighed and released his grip on her. "I wouldn't have thought him foolish enough for something like that," he said, shaking his head.
"Oh, don't be too hard on him, Harry," Hermione said quickly. "I – I think he knew what he was doing."
Harry surveyed her skeptically. "If you say so," he allowed finally. "How long have you been coming down here?"
Hermione hesitated. "Once a night for – for three months," she told him finally. His horror was evident immediately.
"Hermione, you know that greater witches than you have wasted away in front of this thing!" he cried. "Don't tell me you didn't know that there was every chance it would have destroyed you by now."
But Hermione shook her head fervently. "I did my research on this, Harry," she said. "I found a sort of loophole in its rules. I found a way to save myself."
"But, I – I don't…there isn't a way," Harry said, bewildered. "Is there?"
Hermione nodded, feeling calmed by Harry's lack of condemnation towards her. "Professor Dumbledore told me that the happiest man on earth will see himself simply the way he is," she explained. "Right?"
Harry nodded. "But I don't see what that –" Hermione held up a hand to stop him.
"Let me finish," she said. "What that means is that if I had everything I had ever wanted, nothing would be different in the mirror." Hermione took a deep breath, then continued. "I'm safe from the Mirror's danger because I already have half of what I need to be happy."
"But, that doesn't make sense," said Harry. "If you've already got half of what you want, wouldn't the Mirror just…leave that out?"
"That's a legitimate question," Hermione admitted, smiling. "But part of what I want most, you see, isn't anything I own or anything I've done. It's a – a person." She gazed down at her feet. "Everything I want most involves hi – this person."
"What do you want most, then?" he asked, squashing her hope that she could simply leave it at that.
"I – well, I…that is, you see…," she trailed off, unable to decide what to say.
"You can trust me, Hermione," said Harry, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "You know you can."
Hermione sighed, then relented. "Okay." She turned towards the mirror, pressed the knobs and sang the Mirror's song. The now familiar image of mirror-Harry and –Hermione under the Head Boy and Girl plaques gleamed back at her. She smiled a secret smile up at them.
"I see the person and myself as Head Boy and Girl," Hermione told Harry.
"Head Boy," Harry repeated. "So the person – he's a bloke?" Hermione cursed her stupidity.
"Well, yes," she admitted reluctantly. Mirror-Harry gave mirror-Hermione a kiss again, this time swinging her around in his arms afterwards. The two mirror images laughed together. Hermione was extremely hesitant about relating this particular bit of information to Harry.
"What's happening now?" he asked then.
A small part of Hermione fought for her to control herself. This will ruin everything! it screeched at her. "Well, um, we're, er…kissing," she said finally.
"Kissing?" Harry repeated, incredulous. "So you – you fancy this boy?"
"That's rather a personal question, Harry," said Hermione, feeling defiant. Harry huffed exasperatedly behind her. "Oh, alright, yes, I fancy this boy. Don't be so rude. We're getting married now, by the way," she added, as the scene changed within the Mirror.
Harry yelped and fell sideways in surprise. "Married?" he cried, his voice unnaturally high. "You're bloody marrying this idiot?"
"He's not an idiot," Hermione muttered defensively, secretly delighted with Harry's displeasure.
Harry murmured murderously under his breath. The picture swirled again and showed Hermione the scene in the hospital room. "What's going on now?" Harry asked, sounding rather anxious.
"I've just given birth to his child," Hermione said in an offhand sort of way, relishing Harry's grunt of indignation at the thought. "Really pretty little girl, she is, too. Dark brown hair and the biggest green eyes you've ever –" Her own brown eyes grew wide and she clapped her hand over her mouth.
Harry stared down at her in confusion. "Hermione?" he asked. "What's wrong?" But she only shook her head, praying to every deity she could think of that he wouldn't make the connection.
"There's something you're not telling me," Harry said to her, kneeling down beside her and looking her in the eye, a wicked smirk playing on his handsome features. "What's up?"
Hermione peered at him searchingly, before lowing her hands just long enough to whisper, "Eyes," then clamping them back over her mouth.
"I don't see what eyes have to –" Harry stopped, and his mouth formed an "o" shape. He was staring at his own reflection in the mirror. "My eyes?" he whispered.
She nodded. "Your eyes," she said, lowering her hands to rest clasped in her lap.
Harry gaped at her. "So, that means…my child." He sat back on his heels, looking as if deep in thought.
"Yeah," Hermione said quietly. "Your child." A despair unlike she'd ever felt before began to well up inside of her. Harry knew her secret. He knew that she was in love with him. It would change everything between them, at least until Harry felt Hermione had had enough time to get over him (which she never would, she knew).
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" he asked, looking lost.
"I was just…scared," she admitted, mortified. "I'm your best friend, your sister; you'd never have feelings for me, never even dream of them. And even if I wasn't your friend, you wouldn't take a second glance at me anyway. I mean, you're smart and funny and clever and powerful and good-looking and charming, and I'm just…me." She looked up into his eyes, expecting pity or revulsion to fill them, but instead, she found them crinkled in a smile. He was smiling at her.
He turned towards her slightly and took her face in his hands. "What you may not realize," he said, smiling. "Is that just being you? That's enough." Without waiting for any sort of reply, he leaned forward and kissed her.
She quickly became lost in a flurry of pure bliss. She lost all track of time and place, mesmerized by feeling. The only thing that mattered was the fact that Harry was kissing her, and Merlin strike her down if he wasn't doing an awfully good job of it. When he finally did pull away, he found a dazed but happy Hermione looking back at him.
"Oh my," she squeaked. Harry laughed.
They left a quarter of an hour later, and just as Hermione was about to walk through the door, she thought of something. "Wait," she said to Harry, and took hold of his hand. She led him back to the Mirror.
After Hermione twisted the knobs and sung its song, the Mirror's image swirled within. The picture showed her, in a silk nightgown, kneeling on a thick, white carpet in a room with white walls, Harry standing behind her with a hand on her shoulder, looking down on her with a fond sort of smile.
It was perfect.
And it was real.
-does the happy dance- That was fun! Not my best work, but still interesting, yes? Or did all of you hate it? Before you all start pouncing upon me, waving canon in my face, yes, I realize that the chance of the Mirror being left on Hogwarts grounds is completely ridiculous and unlikely. But…it was necessary for the story. I mean, really, the Mirror can't just randomly show up at Grimmauld Place, now can it?
Hope you all enjoyed it! Review! Review! Review!