Summary: Remus Lupin has looked into the Mirror of Erised thrice, and is disappointed to see that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Looking Glass Blues
Remus shimmered through the darkened corridors, cloaked by an invisibility charm that made him barely perceptible when he was moving and completely invisible when he was standing still. His footsteps were stealthy and his breath was even. He was not nervous; he had practiced the charm countless times before sneaking out, so he knew it would hold. He crept along the stone walls, thoughts busily wheeling around his head as he walked. His brain had refused, once again, to quiet down enough to let him sleep, prompting him to wander the corridors until he was too sleepy to think at all.
Remus was a first-year at Hogwarts, and had yet to make friends. His roommates were alright, he supposed, though a bit too rambunctious for his taste. Lily Evans was friendly enough, but she was also smart enough to be a Ravenclaw, and Remus knew that if he spent enough time with her she would figure out the Secret. The Secret was what kept Remus from making friends, because he was afraid of getting close to anybody. Part of that was because he didn't want anyone to figure him out, and part of that was because Remus did not have what could be termed a normal childhood, so he didn't exactly fit in with kids his own age. It didn't help that Remus adored reading and spent every free minute he had buried in books. When he wasn't reading he was attending lectures, doing homework, learning to fly on a broomstick, avoiding getting eaten by carnivorous plants, and generally adjusting to life as a Wizarding student. As a result he had little time to think, and at night when things quieted down the thoughts would crowd in his head and he would toss and turn and bash his head on his pillow in frustration.
Now, as he wandered lazily around a snoring suit of armor, Remus was thinking about money, or rather, his parents' lack of it. He had no idea how they could afford to send him to Hogwarts, seeing as they had spent most of their money taking him from healer to healer when he was younger. His father's work was unsteady and his mother didn't have a job, and Remus knew that boarding school- especially one headed by the maddest and most brilliant wizard of the age- must be expensive. Remus was pondering this when a movement across the corridor flashed in his peripheral vision. He automatically froze; even his breath stopped. No one was there. There was only a slightly open door, which Remus approached cautiously. He couldn't hear anyone on the other side, but there had definitely been movement. He peered into the classroom, his eyes narrowed, and saw a classroom. Desks and chairs and a podium and a …mirror? A large, ornately-edged mirror winked at Remus from the opposite wall, reflecting the empty desks. Remus had a brief vision of ghostly students sitting at those desks, trapped in the mirror for eternity, and a soft chill edged its way up his spine. Get a grip, Rem, he scolded himself, and when he blinked the mirror was only reflecting vacant desks and Remus himself. Remus started. Had his invisibility charm worn off? He glanced down at his hands, but they were still invisible and he could only see the grey stone floor. He looked at himself in the mirror then back at his imperceptible hands.
Strange. He edged closer to the mirror, curious. As he approached he noticed something else that sent shivers running through him. Mirror-Remus did not look exactly like the real Remus. Remus, his nose almost pressed to the cold glass, noticed that his reflection looked very little like him. Both he and his reflection had the same color hair and same color eyes and the same facial structure and such, but there were definite differences. His reflection was noticeably taller, more healthy-looking than its naturally bone-thin counterpart. Mirror-Remus did not have any scars, its eyes glowed with confidence, and the clothes it wore were not shabby. There was a window behind Mirror-Remus, and it revealed a starry sky and a full moon. Remus's eyes shifted to the image of the moon and he stared. He knew that there was no window behind him, and that there was no full moon tonight. More importantly, the Remus in the mirror was in the presence of the full moon and was still human. Remus gaped and sank to his knees; his reflection continued to stand and look strong and healthy and overwhelmingly normal. "How?" Remus murmured to himself. His reflection simply waved at him, and Remus smiled and brushed his invisible fingers over the glass. It felt as solid and real as any mirror. He leaned his forehead against the glass and closed his eyes, his breath clouding the silvery glass. He took a few deep breaths then sat back up and stared at the reflection. It grinned easily at him and he smiled shyly back.
He stayed in the room and stared at the mirror for over an hour before he crept back to his dormitory and slept peacefully.
"Where are we going?" Sirius whined as he and Remus shuffled through the empty corridors. James' Invisibility Cloak was draped over the two boys, but Sirius' constant complaining was making Remus more and more sure that they were going to be caught, Invisibility Cloak or no. "I told you, we're looking for a mirror."
"We have mirrors in the dorm, Rem. Can't you go preen in front of one of those?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "Shut up and help me look."
Sirius was tired, Remus knew, but they would be graduating from Hogwarts tomorrow and Remus wanted to find the mirror again. He had not managed to find the mirror again since he had found it during his first year, but he was determined to look into it one last time before he left Hogwarts to join the fight against Voldemort.
"What's so special about this mirror anyway?"
Remus paused. He didn't know how to describe it to Sirius. It shows me what I would be like if I wasn't a werewolf. "It…it doesn't show you as you are. I think it…shows you what you want to be? I'm not sure, really."
Sirius was silent, and when he spoke next it wasn't in a whining tone. "What do you want to be, Rem?"
Remus shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "The only time I looked into the mirror I was eleven."
"Know what I want to be?"
"Fine. Give me half an hour more then we'll go back. I promise."
They continued their search, and with each minute Remus was growing more despondent. We're not going to find it. He was ready to give up and go back to the dorms when he saw it: the sly twinkle of movement on glass, where no glass should have been and where no movement should have been visible. "Here!" He tugged on Sirius' shirtsleeve and they edged into an empty room. No desks this time, only cobwebs and an opulently decorated mirror, and two young men reflected in the glass. They looked pale and tired, with dark circles decorated the area under their eyes. Three dark figures glimmered into being behind them, quickly materializing into James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Lily Evans. The reflection showed Sirius widen his eyes and fling himself around. "Are you seeing what I'm seeing? 'Cause I'm seeing other people here besides us. But…we're alone! Right? And we're still wearing the Invisibility Cloak!"
"Yes, we're alone, and still invisible," Remus replied, still observing the reflection. Mirror-Remus looked much like he remembered: tall and poised, a healthy flush to his scar-less skin. A bit older, maybe, and definitely happier. Sirius, James, Peter, and Lily all appeared gloriously happy as well, with no peaked looks from worrying about NEWTs or the war. In the background the full moon peeked through a window; Mirror-Remus blithely ignored the moon and slung an arm around Peter.
"This," breathed Sirius, "is awesome. I look so badass." The Sirius that Remus saw in the glass looked normal.
"Wait, what are you seeing?"
Sirius blinked. "You mean you're not seeing us and James and Pete being awarded Orders of Merlin for taking down all of the Death Eaters, and me accepting my Order of Merlin while on a shiny new motorbike?"
"Huh. Well, what do you see?"
Remus felt his face heat up and he ducked his head instinctively, forgetting it was dark. "Nothing," he mumbled.
"Mooooonyyyyyyy! I told you what I see in the mirror! It's only fair you tell me what you see."
Remus dragged his eyes from the mirror and, to avoid looking at Sirius, trailed his eyes along the elaborately carved metal that framed the mirror. An inscription he hadn't noticed before caught his attention. "Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi," he read.
Erised. "I show not your face but your heart's desire."
Sirius was mercifully silent following this proclamation, and he turned back to the mirror and studied it more intensely.
"My heart's desire," he finally muttered.
"We should go," said Remus. "I'm getting tired."
They walked most of the way back to the dorms in silence. Right before they entered their dormitory Sirius touched Remus's shoulder softly. "You'll tell me what you saw, right? When you're ready?"
Sirius looked surprisingly solemn, and Remus suddenly felt ashamed for thinking that Sirius would laugh at what he saw in the Mirror of Erised. "I promise."
It was daytime, but Remus had to sneak anyway. He was preparing to leave Hogwarts, although this time he was leaving as a professor rather than a student. He had conversed with Dumbledore, packed his textbooks and personal belongings, and was almost ready to leave. Almost. There was one niggling thought, one silvery memory that drove him to wander searchingly through the halls. Presently he was disturbingly close to Snape's territory; he thought of turning around, briefly imagining the fear and disgust that would flash across the Slytherin's students faces if they found him here. He wasn't even sure if they would attack him or not. His steps hesitated then continued forward.
Finding the Mirror did not take as long as it had the two previous times he had sought it out. This time, when he stood still and concentrated hard enough he could practically hear the nebulous whisper of the Mirror's magic, calling him like an old friend. The Mirror was in the dungeons this time, and he wondered who kept moving it and why. It wasn't a particularly dangerous object, after all. Like the last time he found the Mirror, it was in an abandoned classroom. There were no desks or podiums, just blank, dreary walls and the Mirror tucked into a corner. He shut the door securely behind him and strode forward.
Unsurprisingly—or perhaps it was surprising, he wasn't sure anymore—the reflection showed Remus himself, as a whole human. Older, with grey streaks in his hair and faint lines framing his eyes, but whole. Next to the Remus in the mirror stood Sirius—a much more hale and much less haunted version of the Sirius he had met last night, the Sirius who had escaped in a spectacularly mystifying fashion, but Sirius nonetheless—and between them was Harry, gawky in his adolescence and admirable in his tenacity. There was no trace of sadness in the three pairs of eyes that peered at him from behind the glass, and as he looked at their smiling faces he wondered if he would ever see himself as he really was in the Mirror of Erised. Perhaps it would be better if he never knew.
Sirius had not had a chance to say goodbye before he escaped, and Remus touched Mirror-Sirius's shoulder and whispered "Goodbye for now, Padfoot. I think we shall see each other again, soon." The Sirius in the Mirror continued to wave and smile. "Farewell, Harry," he added softly. He ran his eyes over the inscription again, then turned and left the room without looking behind him.
He never saw the Mirror of Erised again.