Hello, reader! This is the first story for my new account, though it isn't my first story.
Remember when Neville said that he found the Room of Requirement while running from the Carrows? Well, I decided to write about what his thoughts were during it. That, and I put in my own little twist for the Mirror of Erised challenge.
I was a tad frantic while writing this, as my mum was in the hospital, and I needed something to calm me down.
Enough of that, though, enjoy!
Neville looked back behind him, his heart racing and pumping to the speed of his moving legs. He felt the stickiness of sweat clinging to the inside of his shirt, and drops of it streaked down his face and stung his eyes. He was vaguely aware of how his footsteps echoed against the stone walls of the hallway, and how they pounded into his head with each bound. His school cloak was becoming too hot and baggy, bunching up around his legs and causing him to nearly trip on several occasions.
A streak of red flashed in his peripheral vision, and a wave of sudden heat seemed to scorch his skin. A portrait behind him burst into flames, its occupant screaming and retreating to the neighboring frame. The paintings yelled obscenities as he ran by, directing them at the witch and wizard chasing Neville.
"CRUCIO! STUPEFY! CRUUUCIO!" the witch yelled hideously, her scream of hatred reverberating in Neville's eardrums. A white-hot curse passed against his skin, so close that it ruffled his hair.
The man joined in, his voice raspy and attention-commanding. His words were not welcomed in the slightest.
"CRUCIO! CRUCIO! CRUCIO!" he yelled, his imagination in curses limited by the amount of pain he wished to cause. His curses too, stopped short, though Neville was sure that his clothing was most likely torn to shreds from the close calls. He rounded another corner, his shoes sliding against the stone. He slammed into the opposite wall, but continued running as fast as his body would let him. The yells of the Carrows were much closer now, almost close enough to cast a proper curse and end the chase.
Neville continued to run, moving up stairs heavily as his stamina began to run low. His lungs burned with each step he took, and his throat felt as if it had been cheese-grated continuously. His legs began to feel more like noodles than legs as he got to the top of the stairs. He pushed himself to keep going, knowing that if he stopped, that would definitely be the end of it.
A curse flew past his head as he sprinted down the next corridor, hitting a window high up on the wall. It shattered spectacularly, sending shards of glass tumbling down on him. Most of it bounced off harmlessly, but a particularly sharp piece knocked against his head. He felt some blood flow from it and make his hair wet, but it wasn't a major problem at the moment, seeing as there were two Death-Eaters chasing him with the intent of doing something terrible.
He gasped for breath as he rounded another corner, nicking his shoulder on the edge of it in his haste. He could barely take in another breath, and cursed himself for not exercising more. His wand was clenched tightly in his hand, warm from being held so tightly for so long. He didn't have time to send counter-spells back at them, since he would have to look back to aim.
And then, his foot caught on a slightly elevated stone in the floor, sending him pitching forward. His body hit the ground hard, and it knocked what little air he had clean out of him. The sounds of the Carrows grew nearer, their yells coming from just around the corner he had just rounded. Neville sat up quickly, his head spinning from the lack of oxygen. He cast around wildly for ideas to get out of the situation and evade the Carrows, but only one came to his mind.
He raised his wand to the ceiling, the point aimed directly for where he thought it was weakest. "Deprimo!" he gasped out. A blue light burst out of his wand and hit the celing with a blast, just as the Carrows' hideous-looking selves ran around the corner. They stopped in their tracks, Alecto Carrow falling backward onto her rump as the heavy stones fell before them. Amycus looked furious, his eyes burning with a sort of fiery hatred that only Death Eaters could give. He opened his mouth, revealing yellowed teeth, and he screamed out a final curse that was lost in the sound of the destroyed ceiling. A green light flashed in Neville's eyes, but the curse was neutralized as the stone fell on top of it.
The great noise of the crashing ceiling was enough to screw up his eyes in discomfort, and he scooted back away from the stone before it could cover him. It seemed to crack the floor underneath it, and Neville hoped that it was reinforced by magic. Apparently, it was, because the ancient stone stood its ground. Moments later, the only sound there was was the smaller rubble finding stable ground, and Neville's deep gasps for air. He stared at the spot where Amycus Carrow had been a minute before, the green light still burned into his retinas. He didn't have to guess what curse it was, fake-Moody had shown it to the whole class in fourth year. Granted, he hadn't been totally concentrating on the last curse, because the previous one had rattled him quite a bit, but the look on Harry's face had told him that that was the curse. And if that rock hadn't been there, he wouldn't be sitting on the ground and thinking about it.
But enough of that. Rubble wouldn't be that hard to move, especially if the people who are trying to move it are as angry as a teenaged Mandrake. He quickly got to his feet, mindful of the sharp rocks, and looked around. The walls were covered with dust from the crash, and a few of the paintings were mumbling about "unfair treatment" as they looked through the clean spots of their canvas. One of them even muttered a string of curses at his partly-destroyed frame. Neville chose to ignore them, and considered his options. He wouldn't have time to run all the way down the next corridor, as that would only start the whole goose-chase again. And truthfully, he was almost completely out of stamina. There were no doors along the corridor he was in, not that they would protect him much. He was in a right pickle, he was.
Cursing under his breath, he turned on the spot, gazing at the high ceiling, hoping for a window or skylight that he could cast himself up to, but there were none. Desperate now, he thought hard. I need a place to get away from the Carrows, dammit! He was starting to hear them through the rubble, their scratching sounds becoming even more apparent with each passing moment. He kept turning, pacing up and down the little space of corridor that he dared go down to, the same little thought growing in intensity, until he finally stopped and yelled up to the ceiling, "I need a place to get away from the Carrows!".
He gritted his teeth and brought his head back down, resting his chin on his chest. He could now hear their voices, raspy and mean, and he prepared himself to run anyways to get some distance between him and the Death Eaters. He turned on his heal and began running, pumping his arms in hopes of going faster, when he spotted something in the corner of his eye. He stopped in his tracks and slid a bit on the dusty floor, almost tripping over his feet yet again. He whipped his body around and stared in confusion. A door.
That hadn't been there before, he was sure of it. Was he too hyped up on adrenaline to notice it? Neville approached it tentatively, his hand tight around his wand, ready to lash out in case of trickery. No, it hadn't been there. It was familiar, with its strange home-like pattern. He looked carefully at the doorknob, with its markings around the edges. One of them sparked a memory in his mind, and he gasped audibly. Was he really on the seventh floor? He must have run farther from the Carrows than he thought, if he was up here by the Room of Requirement.
He laughed out loud, the sound echoing around him. He had the best ruddy luck ever! He put his hand on the knob, with all intention of turning it, when he stopped. The room would need to be safe from the Carrows, as he really didn't want them barging in when he was getting settled. He took his hand away from the door and stepped back, before closing his eyes and pacing in front of it.
I need a place where the Carrows won't be able to get into. Neville thought. After a second of consideration, he thought again, I need a place where the Death Eaters won't be able to get into. He opened his eyes and looked at the door again. It looked unchanged, and Neville hoped that his latest wishes had become part of the room's protection. He would be able to change it later, anyways, when there was nobody around. Now he could hear the Carrows very clearly, and knew that they only had about a layer of rock left before they got through. Without wasting any more time, Neville turned the knob and stepped through the doorway. He didn't pause to look at the surroundings, and closed the door firmly behind him before setting the locks as an extra precaution.
Neville refused to relax, however, as he listened carefully through the door. His ear plastered on the wood, he could only hear silence. He was thinking that maybe he wouldn't be able to hear anything because of the enchantments on the room, when a large crash on the other side of the door greeted him. He could hear rubble being scattered across the stone floor, and he held his wand even tighter in case they blasted the door open. A lot of scrambling over rocks could be heard, as well as some pretty foul swear words.
"Where the hell is he?" Neville heard Alecto Carrow hiss in anger. Neville pointed his wand directly at the place he guessed they were standing, determined to get at them first if they came through.
"Where do you think?" Amycus said disgustingly at his sister. "The only way he could have gone was down the next corridor. Hurry up!" he yelled with his raspy voice.
She muttered a string of nasty curses before following him. Neville heard both of their feet shuffling across the dust-covered stone hurriedly, the occasional clatter of rubble as they kicked it across the corridor. Their sounds eventually faded entirely down the next hall. Neville waited a few minutes, then relaxed against the doorframe. He let out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, and breathed in deeply. That was closer than he would've liked, and he was relieved that the Room was still in functioning order.
Now that he wasn't in any immediate danger, Neville turned to look at the space he was given by the Room. It was all pretty basic, with its Gryffindor hangings and hammock. It had a small chest of drawers in the corner with a comb and water place atop of it, and a wooden bookshelf with various magical books in its stores. But the thing that caught Neville's attention first of all was the large, wall-to-ceiling mirror. At least, he thought it was a mirror, because it was facing the other direction. It could be anything, but it looked very much like a mirror.
He walked towards it cautiously, not knowing why the Room had given him an oversized mirror. It most likely wasn't used to admire oneself in, hence the size, but Neville really couldn't think of what else it could be used for. It could probably be some sort of device from the DA days, accidentally upchucked from that room to this one, but that also didn't seem like a logical answer. It was just a bit too ornate for that sort of thing, what with its clawed feet and delicate-looking golden structure. He rounded the corner of the mirror with his wand raised though, just in case it had been used for DA practice at some point.
He peaked over into the mirror, seeing his own eyes reflected back at him. No sort of magical trickery greeted him, and he breathed another sigh of relief. He didn't really need another bout of hair-raising schemes at the moment. He shook his head free of worries, and turned his attention to the hammock across the room. It looked quite inviting at the moment, as he hadn't had a proper night's sleep for the past fortnight. The Carrows had certainly kept him busy with their outrageous rules and detentions for a while, since he made a habit of sneaking out at night into the dungeons and freeing the first years that were held captive there on ridiculous penalties.
He settled into the hammock and pulled the light blanket up around his collar, already feeling the daze that had settled into his eyelids. He would have to get up early tomorrow in order to figure out a plan for his fellow class-mates, as they would most likely be questioned on his disappearance. Neville felt a guilty for not being able to do it that night, but the whole castle would be looking for him for a while. It's not like a student can just up-and disappear right under the Death Eater's noses without some sort of rational explanation, right?
Yeah, right. Neville answered himself with a smirk. He turned over in the hammock, making it rock, and stared off into the darkening space of the Room of Requirement. His eyelids began to close slowly, and the grip on his wand became steadily looser. Just as he was about to drift off into that much-needed sleep, however, he caught a movement in the reflection of the gigantic mirror. He instinctively lifted his wand up to face the intruder as he jumped out of the hammock.
"Stupefy!" he yelled. A streak of red left his wand and hit the bookshelf across the room. The bookshelf exploded, sending wooden shrapnel and ripped book covers in every direction. Neville looked frantically for the person in the room, his wand moving around violently fast. He felt his heart pumping faster than a flying hippogriff, and he searched around the small room with haste. He was absolutely sure he had seen someone, and he didn't have weird hallucinations. Seamus did sometimes, but Neville never did. There was nobody in the room, though, he saw after the fourth or fifth check. Another movement caught his eye again, though, and he spun around.
"Stupef-!" he stopped suddenly, when he realized that he was yelling at empty space. He was breathing heavily from the adrenaline, and he lowered his wand slightly. The only sounds were of his breathing, and the gentle smoldering of the bookshelf. It crackled slightly and Neville jumped, still on edge. He thought he had seen something move in the mirror, but there was obviously no one there, which only further frustrated him. He moved closer to the mirror, his wand still held aloft in the direction of where he had thought the person to be. Yet another movement in the corner of Neville's eye caused him to spin around, but he refrained from casting any spells. Very slowly, he turned his head back to the mirror, not sure if he was seeing correctly or not.
There were two figures standing on each side of him, dressed in neat wizard's robes. They were both smiling brilliantly white smiles, their eyes crinkling happily as they stared at him.
Neville lost all the breath that was in his lungs as he looked at his parents. He turned his head to look behind him, but was greeted only by the hammock and the burning shelf. When he looked back, they were still there, staring at them with their eyes alive. Really, alive, not just looking at him with faint interest like they did when he visited them in St. Mungo's. In truth, he couldn't remember the last time his parents had been inhabited with their old selves, couldn't remember a time before Bellatrix Lestrange. But any anger that brought itself up from those depths was quickly burned away by the sight of his parents, whole and new again. They only stared at him happily, though, and they didn't make any indication of speaking. Neville looked on with sudden cold feet. What do you say to someone that you haven't had a proper conversation with since never?
"Mu-um?" he whispered, and was ashamed at how his voice broke. She only nodded silently and continued her long, unbroken stare. She looked like the woman he saw in the hospital, except her cheeks were fuller and rosy. Her hair wasn't wiry, but the short, smooth hair he had seen in pictures. And then there were the eyes. He was so used to the dull, colorless eyes that he was slightly taken aback by the Glittering brown orbs he saw. She looked over at his father before looking back at Neville, which prompted him to turn his attention to the smiling man in the mirror.
Neville had never really thought that he bared any resemblance to his father, based on the man that resided in the hospital and the very few pictures he had seen of him, but at that moment, they could be twins of sorts. Yes, there were some obvious differences, like the eye color and the hair (or his lack thereof), but they had the same face. Even the way they both held themselves was similar, with Neville only very slightly hunched over. He had wrinkles, but they were laugh lines, not the strange, crows feet that he had in the hospital from squinting at the wall for too long.
They both looked upon him with an abnormal look of happiness, bordering on sadness. They both put their hands on his shoulder, and Neville looked around yet again for their presence beside him before looking back in the mirror. It was then that Neville's attention was turned to his own reflection, standing in between his parents own figures.
He was taller than he was in real life, Neville saw with some strange shock. His robes were also brand new, not torn up and covered with rubble and dust. He held himself with greater dignity, like he was worth something. He was leaner and more muscular than the real Neville was, something that he had hoped to look like for the longest time. He had the same expression that the real Neville wore, though. The mirror was still just a mirror in that aspect. The real Neville smiled in spite of himself, and the reflection showed him normal sized, straight teeth. He turned his attention back to his parents, though, feeling a bit embarrassed that he had stared at his own reflection with astonishment like that. They were the real attention-grabbers, as they were something he had longed to see since before he could remember.
Time passed, though Neville didn't know how much until the room was brightly lit again with the yellow light of morning. Neville had used the time just staring into his parent's faces, entranced in the fact that they were not insane and emotionally dormant. At one point in the night, he had sat down cross-legged on the floor, without taking his eyes off his parents for fear that they would disappear as soon as he looked away. And they had continued to look back at him, their eagerness not having faded with the night.
Neville felt a sudden chill from the early morning and the stone floor, and looked at his watch in surprise. It's glass casing was cracked, but it still told good time. At the moment, it's floating planet-shaped dials told him that it was 5:23 in the morning. His eyes felt crusty from having stayed up all night, and a light throbbing began to form in his temples from lack of sleep. He quickly looked back up to the mirror, and was relieved to see that the images of his parents had not moved. They smiled a little wider, their teeth dazzling in the sun. He smiled back a small smile, still nervous about being in front of them.
Neville had been thinking about how the mirror was able to show him these reflections for hours now, but he couldn't think of a worthy explanation. His parents were right there in front of him, looking happy and not insane, when he knew for a fact that they should be in a St. Mungo's, drooling and staring blankly at nothing in particular. They couldn't suddenly be healed and happy and right there in front of him. He had thought that the mirror could possibly be a window into a different reality, one where his parents are normal, but he quickly dismissed the idea. If they were really there, why were they just staring at him without giving him any signs that they were going to communicate?
Neville heaved a deep, almost frustrated sigh and stretched his sore his arms above his head, trying to relieve some of the tension that had built up from sitting around all night in front of a mirror. A sharp sort of pain radiated from forearm, and he hissed. He brought it down to his eye level and discovered a tear in his robe's sleeve. Gingerly, he removed the fabric and peered at the source. It was just a cut, jagged, probably from a piece of stone that fell from the ceiling.
He stared at it strangely, as if it were some sort of slug that Hagrid was using for Care of Magical Creatures. The cut reminded him of the Carrows, and it struck Neville as odd that the scene felt as though it had happened a week ago. They were most likely still looking for him, searching the halls and broom cupboards, going through the common rooms, questioning people...
He stood up very quickly as a thought occurred to him. The Carrows would be questioning people, his friends, and Neville knew that they would do anything for answers. "Dammit." he whispered to himself as he gathered his stuff from the hammock. He had thought of this yesterday, and he had planned to get up before the sun rose to find his friends and bring them back to the Room. Why hadn't he done it?
Neville looked over at the mirror, a sudden venom in his mind. He had been too busy staring at that thing, the mirror with the fake parents in the reflection. That's what they were, fake. His real parents were in an insane ward at a hospital, not in a magical mirror in the Room of Requirement. He finally got all of his belongings together and went over to the mirror. His parents were still there with their smiles and perfect faces, so bloody normal-looking. He stared for a few moments longer, trying to understand why they would be there in the first place. With a small twinge of realization, Neville saw that they looked exactly as he had always thought they had once looked, before the curses had taken away their sanity, though their smiles were a bit more sad. He had dreamed of them for years, and it was always the same kind of dream. They would all be laughing and smiling, going to the cinema, walking in the park, even just sitting on the couch at home. Then, instead of gran, they would stand by the Hogwarts Express and wave at him as he went off to school.
There were so many things he wanted to say to them, even if they weren't real.
"I-I'm sorry." he choked out. "I'm sorry, but I have to go."
They looked at him from the mirror sadly, but with an expression of understanding.
"It's just...-" he started. "you're not real. I wish you were, I really wish you were, but you're not. I can sit here staring at you for the rest of my life, wishing that you were really there, but I know I can't."
He took another deep breath and continued.
"These people out there, though. They're real, and they need my help."
Neville could feel tears welling up in his eyes, but he blinked them away.
"I'm sorry. I wish this was the way it could be, no worries, just staying in this safe room, but it can't. I know it can't. I have to fight, because there are people out there who want to destroy everything good in the world. Evil people." he added, suddenly thinking of the Lestranges.
Neville looked up into his parent's faces, and saw that they were smiling without any sadness. It was a smile that Neville had imagined they would have if he had done anything good, a smile like he had just gotten top marks in his classes. It was a proud smile. Neville could feel the tears threatening to fall again, and turned towards the door abruptly, facing away from the mirror. He twisted the embossed doorknob, but stopped before opening it. He turned back to the mirror, his face screwed up against the tears.
"I love you both. I love you so much." he whispered. The reflections looked on at him and smiled, and Neville knew they understood. It was also the first time that he could remember them ever acknowledging the statement. He turned back to the door and opened it quietly, his wand at the ready.
His friends needed him, and it was time to fight.
Reviews are appreciated.