Hermione knew it wasn't the smartest thing she had ever done. Far from it, in fact. And it made her slightly uncomfortable to be so dependent on instinct instead of logic, but it wasn't enough to stop her.

They had found the Mirror of Erised in the underground crypt of the parish church in Godric's Hollow, having decided to explore the village one day when Harry was off pursuing a lead that didn't pan out. The vicar had been very cagey about how such an item had gotten there until Ron dropped Dumbledore's name. After that it was like child's play to get information out of him. And Harry's surprise when he returned had been a bright spot in what had become an increasingly bleak existence for all of them.

Harry had reluctantly agreed to try and use the Mirror to find clues to Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes, but he had been adamant about his friends staying away from it. Ron had not needed much persuading; his previous experience with it in their first year convincing him that what one wants is not always what one needs.

Hermione, on the other hand, hadn't been convinced. She had made a show of promising Harry that she would stay away from the Mirror, but the suspicious looks from both Harry and Ron showed that they didn't quite believe her. She spent two weeks suiting actions to words, staying away from the church and in general being her proper, rule-abiding, promise-keeping self.

Until tonight.

Hermione pulled her cloak closer to her shoulders, shivering in the damp night air. The approaching spring had brought some milder temperatures, but when the sun dropped and the mist gathered it was enough to chill you to the bone. She would have preferred to have the company of both Ron and Harry, but knew that was out of the question. This was one thing she needed completely on her own.

As she walked toward the church her mind turned to speculation. What would she see in the Mirror? What was her heart's desire? Oh, she knew what it was in general terms; Voldemort defeated and herself alive and happy with all of her friends and family. But how could a mirror depict such a broad and sweeping desire?

The sudden hooting of an owl startled her as she reached the church door. She pressed a hand to her chest, trying to slow her suddenly rapid breathing. She could see the owl perched in a nearby tree, and she laughed a little. Over six years of life in the wizarding world, she thought to herself, and now an owl is scaring you?

The door opened under Hermione's Alohamora charm; the creaking sounded unnaturally loud in the quiet. She slipped into the church, careful to leave the door open to avoid more loud creaks. She paused to give her eyes time to adjust to the darkness, only proceeding when she could make out the shape of the altar. The stairs to the crypt were just behind the altar, and she began to move that way, dropping her cloak in a pew as she went.

The air seemed to thicken with the cold as she descended the steps. Her heart was in her throat with a combination of fear and anticipation. As she neared the bottom of the stairs she noticed a strange light filling the crypt. It was dim, but after the blackness of the stairway it was more than enough for her to see clearly.

The Mirror was standing in a side niche of the crypt. It was so tall that its top brushed the stone ceiling. The gold of the frame was old and black in spots. It had clawed feet at the bottom and across the top was carved an inscription; Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on woshi. Her eye traveled across the words and picked out the real message; I show not your face but your heart's desire. She took a deep breath and stepped directly in front of the glass.

At first the image in the Mirror was cloudy and indistinct. She caught a glimpse of her parents, and then a brief image of herself, with Harry and the entire Weasley family, enjoying a meal at the Burrow. Then a sort of fog swirled about and dispelled that picture. She took a step closer; the fog cleared and she saw an image that made her heart hammer in her chest.

It was Ron, staring out of the Mirror at her. The picture was so clear that she could count the freckles that spread across the bridge of his nose, and his blue eyes seemed to glow in the dimness. She reached out with one hand, mesmerized by the love she saw in his gaze. Without even realizing it she moved closer to the Mirror, so close that her breath fogged the surface slightly and her hand made contact with the cool glass. As she watched the image swirled and changed again, finally revealing what she knew to be the deepest desire of her heart, even if she could never admit.

It was her and Ron, and they were. . . Well, there was no way around it; they were obviously so in love and so absorbed in each other that Hermione was almost embarrassed. Ron was holding her with his arms wrapped around her bottom; her head was slightly higher than his. He had his head back, tilted towards hers, and his eyes were closed as if he were sighing in contentment. She had one arm around his neck and with her free hand she was cupping his face, touching her nose to his. And even as Hermione watched her mirror-self touched her lips to Ron's.

The real Hermione gasped and brought a hand to her lips. They felt hot, as if the mirror-kiss was the real thing, and she could feel a flush creeping up her neck and across her cheeks. Never had she thought of herself being so open with Ron about her feelings for him. Not even in her wildest dreams. But the Mirror knew.

This fic was inspired by a gorgeous piece of art drawn by my good friend mudblood428 found here: