Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and co. They are all the property of the fantastic J.K. Rowling. I only own the plot you do not recognize.

Title: Her Destiny

Summary: When Harry looks in the Mirror of Erised, instead of seeing his family, he sees a young red-haired girl. But why would a young girl be his greatest desire? And why is Dumbledore so concerned about them? AU.

Chapter One: The Girl in the Mirror

Harry carefully eased the door shut, making sure to keep the handle turned. The last thing he needed was for it to click loudly when it closed. He pressed his ear against the door, listening intently to the footsteps of Snape and Filch passing the door, before heading off in the other direction. He breathed a sigh of relief – it had been a close call - and let his invisibility cloak fall to the floor. He didn't want to chance trying to get back to Gryffindor tower just yet, as they would still be searching for him. He settled down on the floor, only then taking a look at his surroundings.

It looks like just like any other empty classroom: desks piled along one wall, a blackboard with notes about transfiguration on another. But something in the far corner of the room caught his eye.

The mirror stood leaning against the far wall. Harry had never quite seen anything like it before. Almost tall enough to reach the ceiling, with an ornate frame that appeared to be made of real gold, standing on two clawed feet. The inscription, written along the top of the mirror in a script, read: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on whosi.

He approached the mirror cautiously. He had been at Hogwarts long enough to know that things rarely were what they appeared to be. And surely, a mirror quite like this hadn't been placed in that room by mistake. It was the type of thing that should have been on display, somewhere where people could see it and admire it. The kind of thing that decorated the homes of the wealthy, not the corners of unused classrooms.

As he moved closer, one of the mirror's peculiarities struck him. Though he should have been able to see his reflection in it, it showed only the empty room behind him, as if he had still been wearing his invisibility cloak. He moved to one side, waving his hand in front of the glass. Nothing.

He could no longer hear tell of Snape or Filch in the corridor outside, but he was now far too curious about the mirror to leave right then. Any thought of sleep or returning to his bed had vanished from his mind. He moved quickly, standing directly in front of the mirror to inspect it more clearly.

What he saw looking back at him was the last thing he would have expected.

A young girl stood in the mirror before him. She was pretty, and somehow familiar, though he couldn't quite figure out why. She had bright, red hair that hung almost to her waist, deep brown eyes, and freckles sprinkled across the bridge of her nose and her cheeks. She blushed and giggled when she noticed him staring at her, and quickly directed her gaze towards her shoes. Harry felt himself flush as well, embarrassed having been caught looking.

He shook his head. What did he possibly have to be embarrassed about? He wasn't looking at a real person. She was merely an image in a very strange, if rather magnificent, mirror. Granted, a little girl had not been what he would have expected to see and it had caught him a little off-guard, but his surprise did not make her any more real.

He looked up to the inscription on the mirror again. What could it mean? It didn't look like any language that he had ever seen. And what did the mirror do? Obviously, it was no ordinary mirror. But he couldn't understand why it would show him this girl. What was so special about her? And why did he feels as though he knew this girl?

Taking one last quick glance in the mirror, he retrieved his invisibility cloak and began to make his way back to Gryffindor tower, the image of the girl branded in his mind.

The lake in front of him looked terribly inviting. He longed to dive in, feel the refreshing, cool water around him. But the Dursley's had never taken him to the pool or allowed him to take any lessons, and he wasn't so sure he would be able to keep his head above the water. Unable to resist completely, he slipped off his trainers and let the water wash up over his feet, feeling instant relief from the blistering heat.

"Harry!" a voice called from behind him, almost making him fall, face first, into the water.

He spun around quickly, and was surprised to see the red-haired girl from the mirror running towards him. She wore a pretty blue sundress, white sandals, and a look of annoyance on her face. She ran up to where he had left his trainers. She toed out of her shoes and slipped the dress over her head, revealing a green bathing suit. She left her clothes in a haphazard pile next to his things before joining him in the water.

"You said you would wait for me," she said, poking him in the arm.

"S...Sorry?" he replied, unsure of when he had made this particular promise.

"That's okay," she said, the look of annoyance disappearing from her face. Suddenly, she bolted, taking off into the water, yelling, "Catch me!"

He moved to go after her. She was laughing and shrieking as she splashed, trying to move away from him as quickly as possible. Her excitement was almost tangible. He turned to dive in after her, but caught himself.

"Wait! I can't swim!" he called to this girl, who was now a good twenty metres away from him, as the cool water splashed over the legs of his cuffed pants.

"Sure, you can," she replied, simply. She had turned and was floating on her back, facing him. "You were doing really well last time."

Last time? His mind was racing; this was all very strange. But the water did feel really nice, and for some strange reason, he felt as though he could trust her. Even though he didn't know her name or how she knew him, he knew she would not lie to him. He took a deep breath and dived into the water...

Harry woke with a start, the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead tingling. It was early, and the other boys in his dorm were still fast asleep. He reached over, grabbing his watch from the nightstand beside his bed. Six in the morning. Far too early to be awake, but he knew that he would not be able to fall back to sleep.

Harry threw his sheets off, sat up in his bed, and rubbed his scar. This wasn't the first time he had dreamed of the girl from the mirror. Since that night, he had dreamed of her on a nightly basis. It was almost always the same dream. They would swim in the lake, and he would always feel strangely close to her, as though they had known each other forever. He knew, just by looking at her, that he could trust her. And he would always wake up just as he dived into the water.

He wished, much like he did every morning, that he had asked her what her name was. It seemed strange that he had been dreaming of her for nearly a month now, and still he didn't know who she was. If he had a name, he might be able to figure out why she looked so familiar.

He looked over at his best friend, snoring in the bed next to him. He wanted to talk to someone about this. But Ron didn't seem like the right person. Sure, he was Harry's best friend, but he would probably just think that he was overreacting or was going crazy. It would most likely be just a joke to Ron, and he felt that this had to be more serious. Joke dreams couldn't possibly reoccur this often, and he could not see why a joke dream would cause his scar to tingle.

As he contemplated his situation, a thought struck him. Hermione! He hadn't even thought of telling her about it. Surely she would understand his concerns and maybe even be able to find a solution for him. Knowing her, she would have read a book about it. And if not, she was still a girl, and might understand better than another guy would. She would be far less likely to laugh at him than others might be.

Swinging his legs out of bed, he gathered his things to get ready for the day. He knew Hermione often went down to breakfast early, usually before the rest of them had even woken up. The last thing he needed was someone overhearing his predicament. If he felt a little silly talking about a dream, others would definitely take it the wrong way. The last thing he needed was anyone thinking he belonged in a loony bin.

Just as he had hoped, the Great Hall was nearly empty when he arrived, aside from a few prefects milling about at the far end of the hall. Hermione sat alone about halfway down the Gryffindor table, ignoring the piece of toast in her hand. She was completely focused on the large book she had propped up on the fruit bowl in front of her. She didn't look up when Harry sat down next to her.

"'Morning," she said, her eyes still on her book. She was quiet for a moment, as she finished up the paragraph she was reading. Harry waited patiently. He had been friends with Hermione long enough to know that she didn't like stopping halfway though what she was reading. After she had finished, she looked up at him and said, "You're up early."

Harry nodded, grabbing a piece of toast from the plate in front of him and buttering it.

"Strange dreams," he explained, feeling a little foolish.

"What about?" she inquired, placing a napkin in her book to mark her place.

He took a bite of toast, trying to decide how to best word his explanation. It was an awkward situation at best, and he wasn't too keen on explaining the situation to someone. It almost felt as if it were a private matter that was not allowed to be discussed. But the whole issue had been weighing heavily on his mind since he first visited the mirror, and Hermione was probably the most trustworthy of his friends.

He haltingly told her about escaping Snape and Filch, what he saw when he looked in the mirror, and the dreams he had been having since. Hermione hung onto his every word, watching him as he stammered and blushed, their breakfast sitting forgotten on the table.

"That is rather strange," Hermione said, going back to her cold breakfast. "And the mirror was just sitting in an old classroom? From what you said, it seems like something that should be kept somewhere safe, not left where anyone can find it."

"That's what I thought," he replied, spearing the last of his toast with his fork absently. Then an idea struck him. "We should go back tonight. I can show you the mirror."

Hermione expression changed quickly to a more hesitant one. He knew that she hated the thought of breaking school rules, and being out of bed after hours definitely fell into that category. How many times had she lectured him and Ron about breaking rules before they had become friends? But at the same time, he could tell she was intrigued by the curious nature of the mirror.

"I don't know, Harry," she said, looking around. More students had come into the hall, and now they were at risk of being overheard. "We could get in a lot of trouble."

"Come on, Hermione," he pleaded. He needed to figure this out before his dreams convinced him that he was actually a bit barmy. "We could take the invisibility cloak, so no one would see us. And I'm sure I can remember where to find the classroom. We'll just go, have a look, and go right back to the tower."

He could see her trying to find a loophole that he hadn't thought of. After a moment of contemplating, she gave him a defeated look, and said, "Fine. We'll go at midnight. We better not get caught."

At five to midnight, Harry found himself pacing around the common room, his invisibility cloak concealed under his robes. The last of the students who had been milling about, the Weasley twins, had gone to bed a half an hour earlier. He had been a bit relieved when they had left, since they had spent a fair amount of time interrogating him on a variety of products he had never heard of.

He was nervous, to say the least. He might have been exaggerating slightly when he said he could remember the location of the classroom. He had a rough idea, but after a month he wasn't so sure on some of the details. And what if they got there and the mirror was gone? Or what if it didn't work, and didn't show him the red-haired girl again? Hermione would have his head for making her break the rules for nothing. He could only hope that his instincts and curiosity would lead him in the right direction, making this trip as quick and painless as possible.

The butterflies in his stomach doubled when he heard soft footsteps coming down the stairs from the girl's dormitory. A moment later, Hermione came into view, looking slightly panic-stricken.

"You brought the cloak?" she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper.

"Right here," he replied, pulling it out from under his robes.

"Let's get this over with," she said, moving towards him.

He pulled the cloak over the two of them, taking extra care to straighten it so they would be completely hidden from view. The quietly exited the dormitory and, ignoring the confused, groggy comments from the Fat Lady about the portrait hole opening and closing when no one was there, made their way towards the empty classroom.

"I thought you said you knew where it was!" Hermione said a while later, in an accusatory tone.

They had been wandering around for the better part of fifteen minutes now, and Hermione was getting impatient. Harry had been sure that he had turned right when he ran out of the library and then took a left at the next corridor. But everything around him looked unfamiliar, and he wasn't exactly sure where he was. He knew there had been a suit of armour, and he had gone in the door right after it.

"There!" he said, his voice barely above a whisper, pointing down the hall to where the familiar suit of armour stood.

"Are you sure?" Hermione inquired, doubtful. He could hardly blame her at this point. They had been wandering around the same corridor for a while.

"Positive," he replied, leading them in the direction of the door.

He looked up and down the corridor, making sure they were alone, before carefully easing the door open and slipping inside. To his great relief, the mirror still stood in the same spot, leaning against the far wall.

Beside him, Hermione was in awe of the magnificent object in front of her. He was sure he heard her whisper something to the effect of 'bloody fantastic', but he was sure he had imagined it. That was something he would have expected Ron to say, not Hermione.

"Come here," he said, grabbing her wrist, bringing her focus back onto the problem at hand. "Stand here." He nudged her until she was standing in the exact place he had been when he saw the girl staring back at him. "What do you see?"

Hermione gasped in surprised, leaning closer to the mirror to get a better look. He waited a moment, as she looked behind her, back in the mirror, then shook her head, smiling.

"I see myself, but older," she said, finally. Harry's jaw dropped in surprise. "I'm holding an award... I think I discovered something important. Something that is going to change things. And I..." She trailed off, her face turning a bright crimson.

Harry didn't push her to keep going. He was confused. Why didn't Hermione see a person too? Why did she only see herself? It just didn't make sense. He had wanted her to see the little red haired girl. He had hoped she would recognize her and would be able to give him an idea what he was seeing her in the mirror. Hermione seeing herself older was not helping his predicament. He gave her another moment in the mirror, though. It was clear that she was enjoying what she was seeing, and Harry hated to ruin her pleasure.

"Harry," she said, moving away from the mirror, towards him. "Do you think that this mirror shows us the future?"

He shrugged. "Why would my future just be a red-haired girl?"

She didn't have an answer for that one. He moved to where she had stood a moment before, and looked at the girl in the mirror. She smiled at him, and blew him a kiss. She was clearly happier to see him than he was to see her. He gave her a half-smile, his mind racing.

"I think we should check out the library," Hermione said, jotting down the words along the top of the mirror on a piece of parchment from her pocket. "Maybe there's something in there about this mirror. Once we figured out what it does, maybe we'll be able to figure out why it's showing you a girl."

"Here it is!" Hermione exclaimed, setting the book down in front of Harry.

Their classes and Quidditch kept them busy, but they had still managed to find some time to search the library for books that may give them some answers. He was beginning to give up hope on finding anything, but she had insisted that they continue. He knew he would agree with her. The dreams were still coming every night, and they were beginning to drive him crazy.

This particular Saturday morning had found them cooped up in the library, searching though numerous dusty volumes. Harry had explained to his friend his concerns about telling Ron about the dreams and the girl in the mirror. Thankfully, she understood, and had convinced Fred and George to keep Ron occupied so they could do their research. He had personally thought that it was unnecessary, since Ron would not have wanted to come had they just said they were going to study. But she felt it was best to be on the safe side.

Harry leaned forward over the old, crumbling copy of Important Magical Inventions of the Eighteenth Century. He took a moment to find the paragraph Hermione was talking about and began to read.

'Le Miroir d'Erised, or Mirror of Erised, was invented in the late eighteenth century by Pierre Moreau. It had been created as a tool to learn the motives of enemies during the war. It was designed to show a person's deepest desire, whether they were consciously aware of it or not. It had been hoped, at the time, that it would help the French to discover the plans and goals of their enemies, so they would be prepared for the next attack. However, when enemy soldiers were placed in front of it, most saw their greatest desire to be themselves at home with their families. After testing the mirror on over four hundred soldiers with little progress, the mirror was deemed useless, and sold as a collectors item. As of the early twentieth century, after many wizards had spent their lives in front of it, it was considered to be dangerous and hidden in a safe place, for the common good.'

Harry's mind was reeling; he could not believe what he had just read. His greatest desire was a red-haired girl? It just didn't make sense. Though he couldn't shake that she looked very familiar, he was sure he had never met her. How could someone he never met be the one thing he wanted more than anything else in the world?

He looked up, catching Hermione's curious eye. He shrugged and closed the large book. He was more confused than when they had started out.

Albus Dumbledore had been pacing back and forth in his office for so long that he periodically had to check to make sure he wasn't wearing a hole in the nice, hardwood floor. It was very rare that a situation come along that left him, for lack of better wording, completely stumped. And after nearly a month of pondering and wondering, he was no further along than when he had started.

He had made a point of checking up on the Mirror of Erisid every now and again since it had been placed it in the old transfiguration classroom. He knew it wasn't the most secure location for such a valuable object. He hoped it was more likely to be overlooked, despite it's ostentatious exterior, if it were stored among old desks and chairs.

For the most part, this had worked. A few students had stumbled across it, many hiding after getting in trouble with Filch, and had not given it a second glance. They had ignored the mirror, focused more on who was searching for them. As soon as the coast was clear, they had taken off, not giving the room a second glance.

But, of course, young Mr. Potter wasn't like the other students. The beautiful mirror had caught his attention, and he had to take a closer look. This didn't particularly surprise the old headmaster. He had been keeping an eye on Harry since he had first arrived at Hogwarts, and knew of how curious the boy could be.

What had surprised him was what they boy had seen in the mirror. He had figured that Harry would have seen his family in the mirror. It made sense: he had never had the chance to know his family, and had grown up at the Dursley's, who filled his basic needs, but done little more. At the very least, he would have expected him to see himself providing a sense of him for his own family.

But he hadn't. Of all things that Dumbledore had thought that the boy might have seen, a little, red-haired girl was not one of them. In fact, it was probably the last thing he would have expected Harry to see.

It didn't make sense. There were so many things he could long for: a proper family, a normal childhood, a normal fate. So why would his greatest desire be a girl, no older than he? Did boys his age even think about girls as anything more than friends?

He sat down at his desk, his pounding head in his hands. He would have to look into this. He hated the thought that this boy might be burdened with something more than he already had. Surely a book in his large collection would be able to explain this peculiar situation. Another ability of the mirror's perhaps.

He stood, and moved towards his private library at the back of his office, wondering what else fate could have possibly placed on his poor boy's shoulders.

The red-haired girl was lying in bed, writing in a notebook. The breeze coming through her window was frigid, but she kept herself tucked safe and warm under the heavy blankets on her bed. She didn't mind the cold breeze. The lovely view of the full moon was more than worth it.

An older woman with the same red hair came into the room, gasping at the cool temperature in the room. This was clearly something the girl had done before, because the woman didn't say a word about it. She merely smiled at the girl and sat on the bed next to her, pulling an extra blanket over her shoulders.

"Ready for bed?" the woman asked, as the girl quickly closed the notebook. It must have been a diary or a journal of some sort, because it was clear that the girl didn't want the woman to see what she had written.

"Almost," replied the girl, with a smile. She slid the notebook and her quill into the drawer in her nightstand. "Will you tell me a story first? Please Mum?"

"Aren't you a little too old for bedtime stories?" the woman, the girl's mother, teased. When the girl shook her head, her mother said, "Alright then. What story to do want to hear?"

The girl gave her mother a look, as though she had asked a silly question. "The story of Harry Potter!"

The mother smiled and began telling the story. It was clear that this was a favourite of the girl's, because she knew it off by heart, interrupting her mother every so often if she accidentally missed something.

"Mum," the girl said, after the story was finished. "What do you think..."

"Harry, mate. Wake up!"

Harry woke to Ron shaking his shoulders. He looked around, blearily. He was sitting in the Great Hall with Ron and Hermione. It took him a moment to get his bearings and figure out what was going on. He hadn't intended to fall asleep, but clearly his mind had decided it necessary. He hoped he had just fallen asleep due to lack of proper sleep, and not to have some sort of strange vision about the red-haired girl. Hermione shot him a concerned look, but he shook his head. He knew she would understand it to mean that he had dreamed about the red-haired girl again, but not to bring it up in front of Ron.

"You have ketchup on your eyebrow," Ron said, though a mouthful of eggs. As he ate, he read the letter he had untied from the owl's leg a few minutes earlier. "Oh, and Ginny asked me to tell you that she says hi."

"Tell her I said hi back, I guess," Harry mumbled in reply.

This wasn't the first time he had dreamed that the red-haired girl knew about him. It had been happening fairly frequently lately, starting to replace his dreams of swimming. He had heard her ask either her mother or father to tell the story of what had happened to him at least a dozen times. On other occasions, he had dreamed that she had told her friend, a strange blonde girl, that she was going to marry him someday. Those dreams had been particularly disconcerting. He did not like the idea of getting married to the strange girl from his dreams.

"What do you see?" Quirrell demanded, growing increasingly more impatient.

Harry knew that somehow, the stone was to be retrieved though the mirror. He didn't know how it worked, and he wasn't so sure he wanted to. This mirror had caused him too much concern already.

But the look on Quirrell's face told him that refusing would be the last thing he did. So he slowly moved towards the mirror, standing directly in front of it.

To his surprise, he saw himself standing in the mirror, with the red-haired girl from his dreams. She smiled as she moved closer to him, then reached in her pocket. She pulled out a blood-red stone, holding it up for him to. He watched as she carefully slipped the stone into the front pocket of his pants. He felt the weight of the stone in his pocket, and he looked up at the mirror, shocked. She smiled again, and kissed his reflection on the cheek before disappearing out of view.

Harry knew he had to lie. He couldn't tell Quirrell about the stone in his pocket. And he definitely couldn't tell him about the girl who had given it to him.

The train ride back to King's Cross passed entirely too quickly for Harry's liking. As nice as it had been for him to escape the stares and comments that he had been receiving since he had defeated Voldemort for a second time, he didn't look forward to having to spend the next two months stuck at the Dursley's. The only upside to the whole situation was that the Dursleys didn't know that he wasn't allowed to use magic outside of school, so he had tormenting his cousin to keep him entertained.

"You'll have to come stay with us this summer, Harry," Ron said, while they were playing their third game of chess. He moved his knight, taking out Harry's castle. "I'm sure you don't want to spend the whole summer at the Dursley's. You too, Hermione, if your parents are okay with it. I'm sure Ginny wouldn't mind."

Harry smiled, taking out Ron's knight. The less time he had to spend with the Dursleys, the better.

"Just so you're warned, though, Harry," Ron continued. He paused, frowning at Harry's last move on the board. "My sister, Ginny. She used to ask Mum and Dad to tell her the story about Harry Potter every night when she was younger. She used to say she was going to marry you someday." He looked up at Harry, and, catching sight of the expression on his best friend's face, he added, "She hasn't said anything like that since she was young. But just so you're warned, incase she starts acting funny or something."

Harry shrugged. People acting funny around him hardly bothered him anymore. After spending a year listening to people whisper about him between classes and, in the case of some of the Slytherins, make nasty comments towards him, he had learned to just ignore them. Or better yet, make friends with them. It had worked with the people in his dorms and in his classes. Why not with his best friend's little sister?

The train began to slow, and Harry's heart sank. He had been doing his best not to think of the long, lonely summer he had ahead of him. Even with Ron's promise that he could visit, he would still have to spend time at the Dursley's, which, no matter how short, was entirely too long.

People hurrying to see their parents jostled Harry around as he slowly moved thought the gate. Ron was walking behind him, rambling on and on about something or other, completely unaware that neither Harry nor Hermione were listening to a word he was saying.

When they passed through the barrier, Hermione hugged him tightly around the shoulders and, after making him promise to write her as soon as possible, she took off towards the dark-haired couple standing to their far right.

"Have a good summer, Harry!"

"See you in September!"

"Bye, Harry!"

Harry tried to respond to everyone that wished him well or said goodbye, but quickly lost track of everyone in the bustling crowds.

"Still famous," Ron said, clapping him on the shoulder, with a grin.

"Not where I'm going," he promised, returning the smile.

"Look, Mum! There he is!"

"Be quiet, Ginny. It's rude to point."

"But Mum!"

Harry spun around to see Mrs. Weasley, the woman who had so graciously helped him get onto the platform back in September. Next to her, a girl with bright red hair...

Harry was sure his heart had stopped. A shock that big had to have had some sort of effect on it. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head, sure he was just seeing things. It had all been a figment of his imagination.

But when he looked up again, he knew it couldn't just be his imagination. It was definitely very real.

It was the red-haired girl from his dreams.