Chapter Seven

Daphne's Reflection

It was only mid-morning, but Daphne Greengrass felt sure this was going to be her worst Christmas ever.

She flopped down onto her bed, feeling heavy-hearted. It wasn't exactly ladylike, the way she was sprawled over the covers, but no one was around to see. All of the other Slytherin first year girls had gone home for Christmas, so Daphne had the dormitory to herself. This wasn't entirely a bad thing – she didn't miss Parkinson's sneering, Runcorn's toadying or Bulstrode's boorishness. But she was starting to go stir-crazy. She'd barely spoken to anyone since the end of term.

Daphne missed home. She never would have thought she'd say that, but it was true. Mother and Father were many things: cold, distant, sometimes harsh, but Daphne knew they cared about her. The same went for her little sister, Astoria, who was annoying as the devil sometimes, but other times adorably sweet. Four months ago, Daphne had been looking forward to going to Hogwarts and finally being free of her family. Now, she would have given almost anything to be back with them again.

But Father was working overtime at the Ministry, working with Lucius Malfoy and a few others to get some bill on restricting investments in Muggle companies drafted for the New Year's Wizengamot sitting. Mother, meanwhile, had been called into Wizengamot duty for an emergency case: some wealthy heiress had died and her fortune was being contested. So Astoria was spending a couple of weeks with her best friend, Michelle MacDougal, and she, Daphne, was stuck here at Hogwarts for a very lonely Christmas.

Daphne glanced again at the few presents at the foot of her bed. They were all from family: clothes from Mother, a box of Peppermint Toads and the new Marcia Morelli book from Father, and a gaudy hand-made bracelet from Astoria that Daphne knew she would never be seen dead in. It wasn't much of a Christmas haul, and it made Daphne painfully aware of how few friends she'd made at Hogwarts. Being in Slytherin really limited her options, to be fair. Being seen with a Gryffindor was social suicide, consorting with a Hufflepuff wasn't much better, and the Ravenclaws tended to keep to themselves. That left only the first years in Daphne's own house, and with Parkinson and Draco Malfoy controlling the respective dorms, Slytherin was a far from pleasant place most of the time.

The only person in the castle who Daphne was even on first-name terms with was the fifth girl in her dormitory, Tracey Davis. Tracey was intelligent and sharp-tongued, and they'd hit it off from the first time they spoke, but she was the very bottom of the Slytherin social ladder: a lower-class half-blood. If Daphne wanted to keep her place as Parkinson's second in command – and she knew Runcorn would take any chance she got to knock her off – she couldn't be seen to be too friendly with Tracey. That was how Slytherin worked.

Daphne let out a frustrated sigh. It was just her luck that the two people at Hogwarts who she might count as friends were both completely off-limits.

On that note, Daphne's thoughts drifted to Harry Potter, the Gryffindor golden boy who she'd somehow struck up some sort of connection with. Unlike Tracey, he was staying at Hogwarts for the holidays. Daphne had hoped they might be able to have their clandestine meetings more safely with most of their year having gone home for Christmas, but as it turned out, Potter's friend Weasley had also decided to stay at the castle. With no way of communicating without risking getting found out, they'd decided to put off seeing each other until the next term.

Daphne was surprised by how… annoyed that thought made her feel. Their meetings were mostly mutual convenience, after all. Potter desperately needed to make up for eleven years of learning nothing about the world he was an important part of (the thought still made Daphne seethe). As for Daphne… Although Potter probably didn't know it, she was getting as much out of the deal as he was. Potter was already an important figure in the wizarding world, and likely to become even more influential when he was older. Earning his trust now, not to mention having him owe her a favour, was something that might prove very useful in the future.

And yet, there was more to it. No matter how hard Daphne tried to convince herself that their relationship was business only, she couldn't deny to herself that she actually liked spending time with Potter. Yes, the way he acted was completely un-Slytherin-like – bold and forthright without any subtlety at all. But in some ways that was a breath of fresh air compared to what Daphne usually had to deal with in her house. There were no airs or hidden agendas with Potter. Whatever he said, he meant.

He was smart, too, more than he sometimes let on. Although he often frustrated Daphne to no end – he still always called her by her first name, no matter how often she advised him against it – she had to admit he was catching on very quickly considering he hadn't known he was a wizard a few short months ago. For the last several weeks before the end of term, she'd given him various lessons in wizarding culture: greetings, how to make polite conversation, what topics you were expected to discuss, and so forth. Daphne took a bit too much pleasure in making him repeat phrases and gestures over and over again until she was sure they were permanently burned onto his brain, and then some more for good measure. If she ever got under his skin, however, he didn't show it.

Potter was very eager to learn what he could about his family, which wasn't that surprising, Daphne supposed, having been kept from them for eleven years. It had become a project of theirs to sneak into the library whenever they could – separately, of course – and try to find out whatever they could about the Potters. Daphne's idea about checking old Wizengamot records proved to be their best lead. Even there, the Potter name only cropped up once in a while, unlike many of the more active families. They tended to be outspoken in times of social upheaval – Ralston Potter and the Statute of Secrecy was a good example – but rarely seemed to make a splash otherwise. About all Daphne had gleaned about the Potters was that they didn't seem to enjoy the limelight.

In response, Potter had snorted. "Typical," he'd said. "They went to all that trouble not to be remembered, and now here I am, world-famous for something I don't even remember."

Then at last, just before the end of term, Daphne's parents' letter had arrived. It was quite short and perfunctory, mostly just informing her of their holiday plans, but at the very end they answered her question about Potter's seat on the Wizengamot. The letter was stuffed into Daphne's open trunk beside the bed, and on a whim she reached for the trunk, pulled out the ragged parchment, smoothed it out on her pillow and re-read the final paragraph for what seemed like the fiftieth time:

Regarding your last letter, we are pleased to note that you are taking an interest in Harry Potter. To answer your question, the seat is currently being held in proxy by Tiberius Ogden, the leader of the progressive faction of the Wizengamot. He was entrusted with the seat indefinitely by the elder Potters prior to their deaths, and as he is unlikely to retire soon, we can assume he will continue to hold it until the younger Potter comes of age. This, as well as his defeat of the Dark Lord, makes Harry Potter a person of interest. We have heard that he is a Gryffindor, but house boundaries should not preclude you from making valuable connections. We advise that you continue to observe him, and make personal acquaintance if it is practicable.

With love,

Father and Mother

Daphne frowned, cursing herself once again. She'd been so sure she'd disguised the question as something unimportant, but it seemed her parents hadn't been fooled. Their order (and it was an order, no matter how polite they made it sound) to acquaint herself with Potter now put Daphne in a tight spot. Should she reveal to them that she was already on speaking terms with Potter, or even tell them everything, about his lack of knowledge and training, and how she was helping to correct that? No doubt it would be beneficial information to their House, yet something in Daphne baulked at the idea of betraying Potter's trust.

Damn Potter. His blasted Gryffindor nobility is rubbing off on me.

Daphne hadn't shown Potter the letter, of course. She'd relayed to him the information on the Potter seat the last time they'd met, and together they'd crafted a letter (ostensibly from Potter) to Tiberius Ogden, asking him about the goings-on in the Wizengamot and how he was planning on using the Potter vote. Daphne dearly hoped Potter had the sense not to tell her if Ogden replied. With Mother being part of a rival faction, any information about Ogden's plans would constitute a massive leak, and she didn't want to be forced into an even worse moral dilemma… Daphne punched the pillow savagely. Dratted nobility again!

Deciding she needed to clear her head, Daphne left the dormitory, passed through the quiet, near-deserted common room and started her way up from the dungeons towards the main castle. The corridors and halls seemed eerie without students flocking through them. Daphne figured most of those still at the castle were opening presents in their dormitories and common rooms, or else still in the Great Hall wolfing down yet another helping of breakfast. Christmas lunch was still a few hours away, after all, and some people, she knew, could eat constantly all day and still have room to spare.

Before Daphne knew it, her feet had carried her all the way up to the first floor. She still hadn't seen a soul since leaving the common room and she realised she'd been hoping to by chance stumble across a certain black-haired Gryffindor. Fat chance, though; Potter was no doubt holed up in Gryffindor Tower with Weasley and his other friends.

Daphne turned around, intending to simply retrace her steps back to the dungeons, but as she did, something caught her attention from the very corner of her eye – a glint of something through a half-open door to her right.

Her curiosity piqued, Daphne looked this way and that to ensure nobody else was around, and seeing no one, she slipped through the door, with a slight squeak as her left shoulder brushed the door slightly wider open. She closed the door behind her, and then scanned the room she now found herself in.

It seemed to be an abandoned classroom, not unlike the ones she and Potter had been frequenting for the last four months. Desks and chairs were stacked by the walls on either side, leaving a large open space in the centre of the room. There was only one thing out of the ordinary – at the far side of the room, where the blackboard should have been, stood instead the largest, grandest mirror Daphne had ever seen.

The mirror was framed ornately with what looked like pure gold. It had a rectangular base standing on two clawed feet, and a high, arched top that nearly touched the ceiling and was wide enough that Daphne could easily read the inscription carved on the frame, although she didn't recognise the language:

Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi

What was a mirror doing in a disused room at Hogwarts? Clearly, from the look of it, it was very valuable. Perhaps it was a historical artefact of some sort – possibly one of the Founders' famed relics, although Daphne had never heard of any of them owning a mirror. Then again, she doubted it was just an ordinary mirror. Most mirrors these days were charmed in some way or another – perhaps this one had some special enchantment on it?

The thought almost pulled Daphne up short, as she knew many enchanted objects were dangerous to the handler. But then, if this mirror were harmful, why would it be in a school where anyone could stumble upon it? Surely it couldn't hurt to take a peek. Curiosity overcame her, and she stepped in front of the mirror, saw what looked back at her – and blinked in shock.

The girl who stared back at Daphne was undoubtedly Daphne herself: she had the same brown eyes, the same dark hair tied back, the same high cheekbones. But at the same time, she looked different. Older. Powerful. Beautiful. Daphne didn't realise she had whispered the last word out loud until she heard it break the silence. She knew without having to consider it that this girl – this woman – was everything she ever wanted to be, and all she could ever want to be.

Daphne was so absorbed by the image of her… other self that it took her a minute to notice that there were other things reflected in the mirror too. Other people. Alarmed, she whipped her head around so fast she cricked her neck, only to find she was still alone in the room. These other people weren't real, and yet when Daphne turned back to face the mirror, there they were – a whole crowd of them, men, women, children – too many to count, more than would fit in the room she was standing in.

Daphne's reflection stood front and centre in the mirror, clearly the centre of attention. Every eye was watching her. Somehow, even though the people were featureless and unrecognisable, Daphne could understand their expressions: admiring, adoring, almost worshipful, without exception. She wasn't simply beautiful or popular – she was loved.

Daphne's eyes were drawn back to the people standing around her other self. Startlingly, she realised she could recognise some of them. Mother and Father stood right behind her, with warm, affectionate smiles she had only ever gotten a rare glimpse of. They looked proud, pleased – and just as admiring as the rest. And beside them stood Astoria – sweet, cheeky, little Astoria! – holding Father's hand and looking lively, healthy, happy – more than Daphne had ever seen her.

And then, even as Daphne watched, another figure emerged on her other side, from where she couldn't tell, dark and featureless like the rest. It was a man, that much Daphne could tell. He stood at her side, exuding the same confidence and power as did her other self, and she knew, without quite knowing how, that he was her equal in every way.

As Daphne held her breath without realising it, the man placed a soft kiss on her mirror self's cheek.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Daphne lifted her right hand up to touch the place where the mysterious stranger had put his lips, watching as, at the same time, the other Daphne in the mirror touched her own cheek. As the real Daphne watched in wonder, the other smirked knowingly.

Daphne stood stock still, gazing at her triumphant reflection, the man beside her and the admiring crowd behind them. She could feel her heart beating as though she'd just run a lap of the entire castle. Her chest ached with an emotion that she couldn't place. Admiration? Envy? Longing? Desperation?

Could, Daphne wondered, this mirror possibly show the future? Was it some kind of Divination tool she'd never before heard of? Or was it something else – a mirror that showed the best version of yourself, perhaps, or even a window to an alternate dimension? Daphne didn't know, and she found herself not caring. All she wanted, desperately, with all of her heart, was for what she saw in the mirror to come true. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else would ever matter.

Daphne never noticed for how long she stood there; it could have been minutes, hours or days for all she knew. Finally, a chime from somewhere far above Daphne broke her reverie and she realised that, even with the castle as empty as it was, someone would notice if she went missing for too long, on Christmas Day no less. Giving one final, lingering look at her mirror self, Daphne tore herself away from the mirror and left the room, still lost in thought.

What she'd seen – was it true? Was it possible? Or was it all just a cruel joke? Daphne resisted the temptation to turn around and go back to that classroom to check if the mirror was still there. If she showed someone else what she'd seen in the mirror, would they see the same thing she did? Or would they see themselves in her place, or something different altogether?

Daphne couldn't deny the idea of having someone else see this… better version of her was alluring. And if she wanted to show someone, there was one obvious choice…

Daphne got the note to Potter by taking a detour past the Gryffindor table after Christmas dinner. It was risky, but thankfully no one noticed except Potter, who raised his eyebrows as she brushed past him and slipped the scrap of parchment into his robes, but said nothing. The gist of the note was simple: meet at the library entrance at ten the next morning. It was on the first floor, the same as the mirror room, and Daphne was quite sure she remembered her steps well enough to find it again without any trouble.

Daphne was glad none of the other girls were around to see how badly she slept that night. She couldn't help it: her mind was consumed with what she'd seen. What did she do – what could she do – to become so loved, so adored? Would she become Minister for Magic, or discover a cure for dragon pox? Could she really become the perfect, flawless woman she saw herself as? Who was the man standing next to her – a partner, a lover? Daphne wracked her brains trying to think of anyone he looked like, anything that could hint at his identity, but without success. Perhaps she wasn't supposed to know.

Before Daphne knew it, it was morning again, and after forcing down some breakfast she headed straight for the library, arriving at nine thirty. She browsed through the sections looking for something to pass the time, but she couldn't concentrate; she was too eager to see the mirror again. Instead, she gave it up as a bad job and went back out to the entrance to wait for Potter.

Potter was late, arriving at about ten past, but he gave Daphne a tired grin when he saw her. He seemed in a good mood.

"Miss Daphne of the Noble House of Greengrass," he said with an exaggerated pomposity that was at odds with his expression.

They'd made a habit in the last few months of using the proper greetings, just to keep in practice. Potter had quickly learned not to forget, as Daphne gave him a stern talking-to if he ever did.

"Mr Harry of the Noble House of Potter," Daphne responded dryly, extending her hand. With an amused smirk, he bent down and kissed it.

"Sorry I'm late," said Potter, straightening up. "Had to get away from Ron – what's up? I didn't think we were meeting up again until the start of term."

"I wanted to show you something," Daphne said to him. "I found it just yesterday – come on –"

And she strode off in the direction of the mirror room, barely looking behind her to check that Potter was following. He looked puzzled and Daphne knew she was being abrupt with him, but she hardly cared. All she wanted was to get in front of that mirror again.

It took five minutes to find the abandoned classroom again. Once more, the door was ajar, which Daphne found odd as she was quite sure that she'd closed the door behind her when she'd left the room the previous day. Had someone else been in here? Daphne didn't dwell on it, however, but pushed the door open and entered the room.

Potter followed a second later, taking a moment to scan the room's contents.

"It's a mirror," he said unnecessarily. He looked at Daphne, his head cocked. "Is this what you wanted to show me?"

"It's not just any mirror," Daphne said impatiently. "It shows – well…" She proceeded, haltingly, to explain what she'd seen in the mirror, as best she could. About this older, prettier, better version of herself, who everyone looked up to and admired. Daphne left out the parts about her family, and also the strange man next to her – those things seemed somehow too personal to share.

Potter looked intrigued, if not quite as excited as Daphne felt. After seeming to mull it over for a while, he said, "So, what, d'you reckon this thing shows us the future or something?"

"I don't know," admitted Daphne. "I wanted to find out if you'd see the same thing I'm seeing, or something else."

"Let's try it, then," suggested Potter.

Together, they stepped in front of the mirror and looked into it. But unlike last time, Daphne saw no "older" self and no people crowded around her who weren't there. Just Potter and herself, their ordinary eleven-year-old selves.

"Everything looks normal to me," said Potter mildly. Daphne was starting to think he was humouring her.

"Maybe – maybe it only works when only one of us looks into it," guessed Daphne. "Here, Potter – out of the way for a moment."

Potter stepped aside, and Daphne moved into the centre of the room, such that she was looking straight into the mirror, just as she had the previous day. As soon as she did, the scene in the mirror changed completely: her reflection became her older, alternate self again and many others crowded around her – Father, Mother, Astoria, and the mysterious man was again at her side. It was exactly the same as yesterday. The reflection smirked again, as if she was in on some sort of joke Daphne was unaware of.

"Daphne?" Daphne heard Potter's voice as if from very far away. "Are you all right?"

With difficulty, she tore her eyes away from the mirror, looking at Potter instead. "Yeah," she said. "Do you see them?"

But Potter shook his head. "Only you, the way you are right now."

Disappointment flooded Daphne. It seemed that there was no way of showing anyone else what she had seen. Daphne shook her head and, after having one last look at mirror-Daphne, stepped away from the mirror.

"You try it," she said to Potter, "and tell me what you see… go on…"

Potter shrugged and walked to the spot where Daphne had stood moments before. He looked into the mirror – and froze.

Daphne fought back her impatience as he stared, glassy-eyed, at the mirror. Obviously he was seeing something; she was certain Potter wasn't just admiring his own reflection. But what was the mirror showing him? Did he see himself, older and handsome, surrounded by admirers?

"Pot–" Daphne started to say, but Potter didn't seem to hear her. He had started slowly walking towards the mirror – a yard away – a foot away. Daphne wasn't sure if he was even aware his feet were moving. She moved closer, trying in vain to see what the mirror might be showing him without interrupting the image. Then she heard Potter speak at last – not to her, but, it seemed, to the mirror.

"Mum?" His voice was hoarse, barely more than a croak, but it carried in the silence. "Dad?"

Realisation hit Daphne, quickly followed by a wave of guilt that made her chest feel as if it was being crushed. Daphne had been obsessing for the last twenty four hours over what she'd seen in the mirror – her own ambition for greatness. But Potter was seeing something far simpler, yet far more profound; something she, Daphne, took for granted but he had been denied for his entire life. A mother and father. A family.

Daphne had never stopped to think about what being an orphan must mean to Potter. She knew he lived with Muggle relatives, but he'd rarely mentioned them to her, and about all she could remember him saying was that they disliked magic – which must surely mean they disliked him. And here she was, upset that she couldn't see Mother and Father and Astoria over Christmas. At least she had a family to go home to. Potter had no one, and as Daphne watched him stare hungrily into the mirror with his nose almost touching the glass, she realised it must be tearing him apart, seeing something he so desperately wanted but couldn't have.

And with that thought, Daphne realised something else about the mirror, and why it showed what it did. And she knew that she should never have looked into it, and definitely should never have shown it to Potter. Her first impression about it had been right. It was dangerous.

"It's not real," she said aloud. Potter heard her – in fact, he turned sharply to look at her, with a pained and simply broken expression that Daphne had never seen on any human face before. The pain in her chest intensified – it was far worse than anything she'd felt when she was looking in that mirror herself. But she couldn't stop now. He had to know.

"Potter, it's not real," repeated Daphne, as quietly and gently as she could, and in a gesture quite unlike herself, she put a hand on his shoulder. "They're gone. They can't come back. I'm sorry."

Potter stared – Daphne wasn't sure if he was really seeing her – and she was startled to see a tear trickle down his cheek. But at long last, he nodded tightly, and let Daphne guide him away from the cursed mirror, to one side of the room, where they both collapsed against one of the desks stacked there.

Daphne waited in silence. Potter was still clearly distressed, and she had no idea how to deal with that. In Slytherin, emotions meant weakness, vulnerability, so you didn't let your guard down – Daphne hadn't ever seen anyone do it. Even in her family, affection and anger were shown in subtle ways, not broadcast obviously for all to see.

"I saw my family," said Potter suddenly, in a broken whisper. "All of them… Mum… Dad… grandparents…"

Daphne nodded. There was no need for words.

Now that they were away from the mirror, Daphne was starting to think clearly again. Evidently the mirror was dangerous. Why was it being kept in a school, with the door open for anyone to wander in? What if Potter, or someone like him, had stumbled across it alone, by accident? Would he have never left, simply stood staring at the mirror until he wasted away? On top of her already confusing mix of emotions, Daphne started to feel angry as well.

Daphne's musings, though, were cut short as she heard a soft sound to her right – someone clearing their throat. As one, she and Potter both looked around. Sitting on a desk not five feet away from them was the Headmaster himself. Albus Dumbledore.

At that point Daphne realised that she still had her left arm around Potter's shoulders, half-hugging him, and she jerked it back as if burned. At almost the same time, Potter jumped to his feet.

"Professor!" he said quickly. "I – we didn't see you, sir."

Professor Dumbledore chuckled. "Wizards have their secrets," he said conspiratorially with a wink. He was smiling, which meant, Daphne hoped, that they were not in trouble.

Dumbledore slipped easily off the desk and walked to the spot in the centre of the room where Daphne and Potter had both set their eyes on the mirror. He did not look into it, however, but faced the two of them instead.

"So," he said, clasping his hands, "the two of you, like many before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised."

Daphne and Potter exchanged a glance. "That's what it's called, sir?" asked Daphne.

"It is," said Dumbledore. He looked at Daphne closely. "I suppose you, Daphne, have by now realised what it does?"

Daphne was so taken aback that she barely registered he had used her first name. Trying to figure out how to put her thoughts into words, she said slowly, "It shows us… what we want. More than anything else in the world. Whether we can have it, or not."

Daphne stole a glance at Potter. He was still pale and wasn't speaking, but he seemed to be following the conversation carefully.

Dumbledore, for his part, nodded gravely. "To be precise, it shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You see yourself achieving fame and greatness – not an uncommon goal, even among those not in Slytherin. And Harry," Dumbledore's gaze shifted to Potter, and he suddenly sounded very sad, "you, so cruelly deprived of your family, see them standing around you. Both are very understandable desires, and I think none the less of you for having them."

"It's dangerous," said Daphne. "This mirror. If I – if we hadn't been here, if Potter had found this mirror on his own…"

"And you see the danger of this mirror," Dumbledore said approvingly. "Yes, dangerous indeed…"

"But it's not the only dangerous object you're keeping in the castle, is it, sir?" said Daphne quickly, before she lost her nerve.

Potter looked just as uneasy, but he added, "We – we know about the Stone, sir."

If Professor Dumbledore was surprised, he didn't show it. In fact, he seemed almost pleased.

"So you do," he said mildly. "I can only imagine what you must think of me then, keeping two such objects in a school with several hundred students?" He sounded amused, which made Daphne even less so.

"Will you explain, then?" she demanded.

Potter gave her a sharp look, no doubt surprised that she would address any of their teachers like that, let alone the Headmaster. But Dumbledore seemed unperturbed.

"Certainly. I shall tell you what I can," he said calmly. "The mirror is easiest to explain. It has not been here long, and it will not remain here long. It is a magical object, however, and is not easy to remove if it likes being where it is. I have been trying to do so for several days."

"This mirror is yours?" Potter cut in suddenly.

"It is no one's," said Dumbledore without missing a beat. "Perhaps it is most accurate to say it belongs to magic itself. Certain magical artefacts will only appear at a time when they are needed or have a purpose, and the Mirror of Erised is one such item. It is also, I must say, an artefact that likes to be found. Locking charms, distraction wards, even something as simple as closing a door: nothing seems to prevent the mirror from attracting its targets.

"I believe," Dumbledore went on, "that I have almost found a way to move it to a place where it is no danger to anyone. I anticipate it will find a new home the day after tomorrow. In any case, I must ask you not to go looking for it again. Today's events must make it plain to see why. However, if you ever do run across it again… I am glad that you will now be prepared."

Daphne didn't know quite how to respond to that, but he seemed to have answered any questions she might have had. Then she remembered her other concern. "And the Stone?"

"Yes, the Stone," sighed Dumbledore. For the first time, he looked genuinely troubled. "Here, know that I cannot tell you everything, although I shall not lie if I can help it. But if you have done the thing properly, you will no doubt know why I had it brought here?"

There was a moment's pause. Then Potter said tentatively, "It was almost stolen out of Gringotts, sir?"

"Correct," said Dumbledore quietly. "The Stone has been coveted, as you can imagine, by many over the last six hundred years, and been the subject of many attempted burglaries. Rarely, however, has someone gotten as near in their quest as its current pursuer has. My good friend Nicolas, when it became apparent that even his maximum-security vault at Gringotts was not sufficient protection, asked me to take the Stone into Hogwarts itself, where I would be able to protect it personally… and not a moment too soon, as it transpired. It is not ideal, hiding such an object in a school, but I am confident that the protections in place will be able to fend off any thieves while also ensuring innocents do not come to harm."

Daphne exchanged another look with Potter, and knew they were both thinking the same thing: should they tell Dumbledore their suspicions about both Snape and Quirrell? The trouble was, they had no proof. Harry could tell Dumbledore about seeing Snape and Quirrell on the third floor at Hallowe'en, but that would surely get him into trouble, and even then it was his word against theirs, and there was no doubting who Dumbledore would believe. Daphne bit her lip in frustration. There was nothing they could do.

Dumbledore was watching them silently. Then, at last, he said, "If there is nothing else to say, then perhaps you two should run along back to your common rooms? Your friends are without a doubt wondering where you are, and as for I, I must continue to pursue the tedious task of moving this mirror. Know this… however…" Daphne leaned in, paying careful attention, "should you have any concerns, about the Stone or otherwise, you are welcome to visit me in my office, behind the gargoyle on the second floor. Between the two of you, the password should not be too difficult to guess… I am very fond of sweets, magical and Muggle alike."

On that note, he smiled enigmatically, and taking that as a dismissal, Daphne and Potter left the room. They glanced at each other once and, for a moment, Daphne thought he was going to say something – then the moment passed, and they went their separate ways.