The Mirror Crack'd
Written as a gift for writerdragonfly in the SS/HG gift exchange 2011. The title comes from 'TheLadyofShallot' by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
All characters belong to J. K. Rowling.
The sound of splintering glass rang loudly in his ears as he stared down at the mess he'd made. Tentatively, he put out a foot and nudged the shards of broken glass, before glancing around the chamber, as if expecting someone to appear and castigate him for his actions. There was no one, of course. He was very much alone in this part of the castle.
He turned his attention back to the frame before him. Large. Ornate. Empty. All those years ago, when Dumbledore had told him, rather cautiously, of the existence of the Mirror of Erised within the castle, he'd been unable to believe his luck. That fabled, priceless, seductive mirror. And the hours he'd spent in front of it—the long tortuous hours over the years... Just to see her. Always just to see her.
To see her face. To evoke that smile. To remember that red hair... those green eyes. To remind himself of his guilt. To reinforce his resolve. To keep him going in those most desperate of times when he began to think he might not be able to do what needed to be done. But those days were gone now. The end of the war changed things for him. His debt to her was fulfilled, insofar as it ever could be. His guilt nearly assuaged.
If he snuck into the castle now—down the trapdoor, past the long worn-out flying keys and the broken chess set, through his own long-extinguished wall of fire and into the chamber beyond to glimpse the mirror once more, it was only with bitterness and resentment. She could smile at him from within that deceiving glass. She could embrace his reflected self. She could be all he ever wished her to be, but it would mean nothing, as always.
He was just a man who could not let go of the past, no matter how much he wished to. He was just a man who could return to that chamber year after year and see the same scene each time. A picture of lies and false reality. She was dead—had been so for twenty years. For more than twenty years her imaginary self taunting him with possibilities—very much invented on his part. Proving herself to be not his deepest desire, but his deepest torment. And would she never go? Would she never leave him be? Could he never forget her?
But he'd tried. How hard he'd worked. And then to see, after everything, that same image fade into life in the glass, as if nothing had changed... as if nothing ever would change...
After those long years in the wilderness, he'd emerged the other side, and he still couldn't see his life beyond her. He might be admired for his loyalty but he secretly wondered why no one understood how debilitating it was. He had no lifetime of happy memories with her to sustain his devotion beyond her death. His love was born of deep unhappiness, unyielding envy and tainted, bitter memories.
He was sure now that it wasn't love at all. Not any more. He felt it was a single-minded obsession, which he revelled in because it justified his profound disaffection with life, and significantly, his unhappiness with himself.
The more he watched her smile and laugh in the mirror, the more his anger grew. The more the pain coursed through his veins. The more the injustice flared in his chest. He hated that smile. He hated that red hair. And he hated those green eyes most of all.
There was no stopping the harsh cry that ripped from his throat. His arm could not be prevented from rising up to thrust his wand towards the mirror.
The spell hit the surface squarely, loudly splintering the image of them together. Panting, he watched the familiar scene dissolve until he saw only his distorted reflection in the cracked glass. Some of the shards slid from the frame to scatter onto the floor. He picked up a large sliver now and looked into it, feeling a grim stab of satisfaction. Lily wasn't there anymore.
But his satisfaction was short-lived. His breathing slowed and he pressed a finger tentatively along the sharpness of the shard. He might not have to see her before him, but he couldn't shatter his mind in the same way in order to forget her. Because he didn't hate her, not really; not her smile, not her red hair, not her green eyes.
His eyes traversed the mess he'd made. If there was to be any time for him to let it all go, it would have to be now. It would have to be while he actually had some sort of autonomous life to live. Now or never. He wanted to prevail. He wished not to be beholden to her forever. She'd not haunt him continuously. He wouldbe able to let go. He couldn't carry on in the way he was.
But his thoughts felt hollow in his head; frail compared to the taunting certainty that, inexplicably, he would always love her and that no one else—nothing else—would matter.
And now he'd smashed the Mirror of Erised from sheer frustration and contempt for his weak will. Smashed it irreparably. Or he hoped so, anyway. He had no desire to see the mirror in its working form ever again. He bent to his knees and collected up the largest shards. It was a with a dry chuckle that he counted seven of them. Oh, he'd well and truly jinxed himself now, hadn't he?
He shrunk the pieces and placed them within his robe for disposal later. When—or if—anyone ever discovered this place, the mirror would not be for repairing. The inscription along the top would be the only clue as to what had once stood here. No one else would be tormented like he. No one else would have to face such mocking.
With a final contemptuous kick at the scattered remains, he turned on his heel and left.
Now there were no excuses.