Through the Looking Glass

One thing Severus did not anticipate about the Mirror of Erised ... was that, as years went by, his vision inside the mirror changed.

First year when he returned to Hogwarts, he saw only one thing in it: himself and Lily together, in the throes of passion. For hours, he stood transfixed in front of the mirror, watching that reflection hungrily.

Lily's hands were around his neck, and her lips were pressing to his cheeks, his forehead, as she was kissing him with the tender passion that he had never experienced in life, not from her, not from anyone else. In the mirror's depth, Severus saw himself responding in kind, holding on to her for dear life, almost unable to move. She then would reach for his robes, and toy with his buttons playfully, while he devested her with brutal desperation, almost weeping with need, and the realization that the for once, his affections would not be unanswered. When he took her and entered her, she clung to him, and a look of glorious self-abandon spread on her face.

This is bliss. This is happiness.

He has her love.

He may not have the respect and recognition of his peers, he may not have status, he may not have wealth, he may not have friends .... but he has her love. And that's enough. No - more than enough.

That's all he wants.

That's all he wants, and never have, because...

~ * ~

Two years later, he found that the vision in the mirror changed.

Lily and Severus they were both students on Hogwarts. They were sitting down under the tree, studying. Someone screamed an insult at him, and Severus leapt to his feet to retaliate, but Lily grasped his sleeve, and pulled him down.

"Don't bother," she said with a small smile. "They don't matter."

"They don't?" he asked, suddenly unsure what she meant by that.

"No. They don't know you. I know you."

He stared at her, suddenly terrified that something dark, something horrible about him has been found out, and that he was about to be rejected.

"What do you know?" he asked in a shaking voice.

"I know that you are my friend," she said simply.

He shuts his eyes blissfully.

He may not have her love, but he has her friendship.

That's all he wants. That's all he needs.

It's enough. More than enough.

~ * ~

Another year passed. And now, the image in the mirror was a recollection, wrapped around a dream.

In the hallway, Severus was grasping her sleeve, looking at her pleadingly, asking,

"Forgive me."

She glanced at him, and carefully freed her sleeve from his fingers.

"Why?"

"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," he whispered.

She looked at him seriously, as if evaluating his sincerity. At last, her face softened a bit.

"All right, Severus. I... that's fine. I accept your apology."

She walked away, and he was left alone. He issued a breath of relief.

He may not have her love.

He may not have her friendship...

... but he has her forgiveness.

It's enough. It's more than enough.

That's what he wants, what he needs.

~ * ~

Years later, he stands in front of the mirror again, looking into its murky depths.

The image inside it... is almost too hard to take in.

A small house in Godric's Hollow. There's a light in the window. A family is sitting down to dinner – three of them.

There's a child, green-eyed, and messy-haired. The boy looks like James, but he has Lily's eyes.

But it's what the child doesn't have, that matters most.

He doesn't have a scar on his forehead.

Instead, the child has parents who love him.

The boy flicks his wand, and utters a clever spell. James Potter laughs.

"Harry, stop fooling around and sit down," Lily admonishes, but she is barely able to contain her laughter herself. "We are going to have dinner now."

Harry looks up at her with a mischievous grin of his own, and then, suddenly, jumps up, runs up to her and throws his arms around her.

"Love you, mum," he says.

She kisses the crown of his head, and runs her fingers through his messy hair.

"Love you too, sweetie," she says.

They sit down together.


They all love each other.

Severus is an outsider, watching them, watching the lives of others unfold before his eyes. There is no resentment, no bitterness, no anger. He doesn't wish that Lily was his, he doesn't wish that the messy-haired child was his. All he wants is for her to be alive, alive with someone else – alive without him – but alive.

Just that – alive. That's all he wants.

He looks into the mirror again longingly, and his eyes feast on the dim, faint image of Lily.

He may not have her love.

He may not have her friendship.

He may not have her forgiveness.

But – in the depths of the Mirror of Erised, she's alive for the moment, for one fleeting moment, and that's enough. More than enough.

That's all he wants.

That's all he needs.

That's what he'll never have.

~ * ~

A hand rests on his shoulder, his Mentor's hand.

"It doesn't do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live," Dumbledore says.

The image fades.

The world around him is web of shadows, broken dreams, untenable hopes.

Severus manages to find his voice again.

"I know."

The End