This is a story that was acutally conceived as the prologue to a much longer story I am writing entitled Through A Looking Glass, Darkly. However, it also works well as a stand alone. Please let me know what you think .
Now on with the show.
The room was quiet, in a way that only such cavernous, vaulted rooms can be. He made his way slowly, silently through the room, taking a moment to enjoy the utter stillness around him before reaching his purpose for entering this deserted space. As he approached it, it seemed to grow larger, a shadowed behemoth looming up from the deeper shadows of the room. Detachedly, he supposed this was most probably because it was the only item in the echoingly empty room. He took a moment to study the shrouded monstrosity.
So, this is the mirror of Erised.
He had known it resided somewhere in the castle, he'd simply never been interested enough to look. But, now it had been found (by Harry Potter, why was he not surprised?). And, since he was one of the few instructors who hadn't gone elsewhere for the holidays, Headmaster had requested (Ha! More like commanded) his assistance in moving the bloody great thing.
Severus Snape looked about the room, irritatedly wondering where Dumbledore was. He had requested that he, Snape, meet him here in order to move the mirror to its new, more secret, location. Well, he was here, and on time, so what could possibly be keeping Albus?
Severus sighed and turned his attention back to studying the mirror. He couldn't help a faint stirring of curiosity. He'd heard much about the famed mirror as well as some of its more curious properties…the most notorious of which was to show a person their heart's true desires.
Snape's lip curled automatically into a well-practiced sneer at the thought, even as his eyes lingered on the sheet draped frame. Heart's true desire's, hmm? What about those who no longer have a heart to desire with?
Snape forced himself to look away, to look around the room once more for Dumbledore, his frustration spiking. Damn it all, what was keeping him?
Despite his best intentions his gaze was, reluctantly, drawn back to the mirror. In spite of himself, his curiosity was practically eating him alive. Curiosity always had been one of his greatest weaknesses.
What would it hurt to take a look? After all, it would only be for purely academic reasons. Before he had more time to reason himself back out of it, he took hold of the corner of the sheet nearest him and gave it a sharp tug. The sheet slithered down over the mirror and puddle into a pool at the base of the mirror, spilling onto Snape's boots as well. He stepped back, absently shaking the sheet from his foot, as he studied the now revealed mirror. He noted, with scientific interest, the words carved into the frame of the mirror. It was not a tongue he was familiar with, and he was familiar with many. He stepped closer, minutely studying the carving in the frame. He lightly skimmed his fingers over it. Was that real gold? He wasn't sure. He stepped back again, in order to better see the intricate scrollwork at the top of the mirror and accidentally caught sight of himself in the mirror.
Normally, Severus avoided mirrors as much as possible. He possessed one, it was a necessity if one did not wish to end up like Nearly Headless Nick whilst shaving, therefore he was well acquainted with his own reflection. He simply had no desire to, well…reflect upon his own many shortcomings and so circumvented the necessity by circumventing the cause.
However, this mirror was different.
He was different in it. At first he couldn't quite understand was it was about himself that seemed so different. It was still him, but…not. And then he understood.
This self looked content. Happy even. Nothing so insipidly marked as a smile, no. But gone was the constant frown, the deeply furrowed lines of pain and discontent around mouth and eyes. The constantly haunted shadows of a dismal past that lurked in his eyes were missing, replaced by a lively sparkle that reminded him uncannily of Albus Dumbledore in one of his more mischievous moods.
He stepped closer to the mirror in order to study his not-so-mirror image and was startled into a small yelp of surprise when, instead of copying his movement as a mirror ought, this image smiled, stepped to the side and held out a hand. He was even more surprised to see a cloaked figure glide into the reflection toward his image. He whipped about, wand at the ready but was disconcerted to find no cloaked figure behind him. Nerves still jangling, he turned slowly back around to face the mirror. The images in the mirror had continued to move. Severus was shocked to see his image had, quite tenderly, taken the cloaked figure in his arms and had reached up, one-handed, to push back the voluminous hood. Severus held his breath as a tumble of ebony hair spilled luxuriously from the hood. He caught a fleeting glimpse of a profile as the woman turned her head, enough to note a small but firm chin, a pert nose and the gentle curve of a cheek. He heard a silvery, tinkling sound, like water rushing over stones and realized it was the woman laughing. Entranced, and still somewhat shocked, he watched himself smile and take the woman in his arms and almost smacked his nose into the mirror's face when he saw the woman wrap her arms around his mirror self's neck as he proceeded to kiss her very thoroughly. He couldn't help the small surge of pride he felt in noting that he seemed to be making a good job of it too. He suddenly frowned sharply and stepped back.
No, this wasn't real! He wasn't sure what kind of enchantment is was, but he had never had any tolerance for spells that deceived the senses, most particularly when those senses were his own.
His mirror self paid no attention to his movements but instead ceased snogging the dark-haired woman and stepped back, only to place a gentle hand to her back and lean forward, placing the other somewhere on her middle. And then she turned slightly, just enough for Snape to note what he had missed before, which was the large bulge of her very pregnant stomach. He felt an odd pang somewhere in the vicinity of his heart as he observed the tender scene.
"Ah, Severus. I see you have found the mirror of Erised."
Snape felt his own stomach rise right up into his throat as he jumped and spun around to see Professor Dumbledore, standing beside him, hands folded neatly in front of his robe as he watched Snape out of those fathomless blue eyes.
Snape himself felt horribly exposed as he wondered if the headmaster had seen what he had seen in the mirror. He stiffened and drew his robes in tightly about him.
"Headmaster," he greeted, in his chilliest tone, "I did not hear you enter."
"No, no, I suppose you didn't." Dumbledore drifted over to stand in front of the mirror. Snape swallowed hard, and turned around to face the mirror again himself, desperately hoping against hope that his self in the mirror was not doing something disgracefully embarrassing or sentimental. To his immense surprise, he saw only himself and the headmaster, standing side by side.
Dumbledore cocked his head to the side, "You know Severus, they say that, if one was to look into the mirror, one would be able to get a glimpse of whatever it is that one desire's the most. I must admit, I've yet to see anything in it. Have you?"
Snape, the phantom image of the woman and man still dancing in front of his mind's eye, answered remotely, "No, Headmaster, I've not noted anything particularly unusual."
Dumbledore leveled a shrewd and deeply knowing look at his preoccupied Professor, "No, Severus, I'm sure you probably have not."
They stood for a few moments more until Dumbledore broke the silence with a small clap of his hands, "Well, time is wasting and I'm sure you have more…intriguing things to do besides help an old man move a bloody great monstrosity such as this around the castle. Let us get about it."
With that, they both moved to opposite ends of the mirror, cast their 'Leviosa' charms in tandem and began the ponderous task of navigating the huge item through the castle to its new home.
Much later that evening, when the great castle and all within lay sleeping, a shadow slipped stealthily through the lesser known passageways of the castle. After a remarkably short amount of time, the shadow stood before its goal. With a short wave of his wand, Albus Dumbledore had a very respectable light to see the object of his secret nighttime excursion. With another quick flick of the wrist, the item was shed of its coverings and revealed to his eyes.
Hello, old friend.
Dumbledore almost fancied that he heard the ancient mirror murmur a reply to his whimsical greeting. With a rueful shake of his head, Albus stood back and gathered his power to him.
He knew his Potions professor much better than the man would ever care to believe. He knew, as surely as he knew his own name, that Snape had seen something in that mirror. He also knew, just as surely, that he needed to know what it was. Albus did not, as a general rule, believe in interfering with the privacy of his teachers or his students, but he had a feeling that this might prove to be one of those times when a little interference would not go awry.
He began to cast the revealing spell, his wand hand dancing in the air like the most graceful ballerina. The light in the windowless room suddenly flared brightly and shot into the mirror. And then, Dumbledore was able to see exactly what it was he had been wanting to see.
With a small, self-satisfied grin, he waved his wand once more and the spell dissipated. Folding his hands across his robe, he began to saunter back to the more populated areas of the castle and his own comfortable bed.
Yes, Albus Dumbledore was a man who rarely second guessed his own decisions, but it was nice now and again to have proof that one had made a right decision after all.