Chapter One: The Mirror's Solution
Summary: "The thing about mirrors is that they are doors as well as windows. Though, to be fair, looking through them is far easier than walking through them." Time-Travel. Slash. Challenge Response.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
Author's Note: Welcome readers to my answer to the New and Improved BIGGEST Challenge Ever! from the HPCF. I was challenged to write a Harry/Albus Dumbledore fic and this is the result, or part of it anyway. Fair warning for those of you not already familiar with me and my flaky ways, updates will be highly irregular as I have a bazillion fics on the go and chronic writer's block. I apologize in advance. Here's hoping you guys enjoy this anyway!
WARNING: This fic will contain Slash (M/M), in case you didn't get that the first five times I mentioned it. Also expect violence, war, gore and coarse language. Note the rating, not for younger viewers!
It was a beautiful summer morning and there was nary a cloud in the sky over the neatly trimmed lawns and eerily identical brick residences of Privet Drive and yet on the uppermost floor of the Dursley house a haggard looking young man stared bleakly into the bathroom mirror. This young man's name was Harry, Harry Potter, and he had just let his seventeenth birthday pass uncelebrated because in his mind there was nothing to celebrate.
A little more than a month previous, Harry had born witness to the death of his mentor and confidante, Albus Dumbledore. Arguably the greatest and most accomplished wizard of the modern age Dumbledore had been the leader and figurehead of the only competent opposition to the self-styled Dark Lord Voldemort. The world was a blacker more hopeless place without him and Harry felt the weight of being the one expected to bring forth the light to the Wizarding World even as he spent the first half of his summer vacation in mourning and mediocrity at his relatives' house.
He regarded the mirror and the face reflected there grimly.
His hair was getting far too long, falling pin-straight in a ragged curtain of inky black that just brushed his jawline, and his haunted green eyes were underscored by dark purple slashes, the remnants of too many nights without sleep.
"You look like shit, Potter," he sighed at his reflection, dropping his head so he didn't have to look at himself.
"Well, at least you recognize it, which is more than I can say for a great deal of your kind."
At the sound of an unfamiliar voice Harry's wand was immediately in hand and leveled at the mirror. His eyes widened at what he saw there.
It, for there was nothing to distinguish its sex, was vaguely humanoid in shape, though far longer and thinner. Its skin was a pale blue-grey, and a cloud of silver hair floated behind it revealing long ears that tapered to a delicate point. Its eyes were all white and had no discernible pupil its long hands and feet were tipped with gunmetal grey talons and its mouth was full of razor sharp fangs of the same color. It wore no clothing but there were silver chains draped around its chest, waist, and limbs usually wrapped double or triple to keep them on the creature's skeletal frame.
"What are you?" Harry demanded suspiciously backing up until his shoulder blades skimmed the towel rack on the opposite wall from the mirror.
Not only had he never read about or heard about a creature like this one in any of his text books but it looked like something out of a nightmare and frissions of cold primal fear were skittering up his spine and along his nerves.
The creature laughed, it was a musical sound, like bells or babbling brooks or something equally poetic, but the beauty of it was hardly comforting as the humour was black as a moonless night and mocking besides.
"Something time forgot, let's just say," it said cryptically.
Harry might have insisted the creature identify itself if it weren't for the widening grin, the one that just begged him to ask again, and promised to let him know the true answer...for a price.
"So what tragedy has befallen this poor little soldier of all that is good and light that he looks like something the werecat dragged in?"
"How do you know I'm a soldier of good?" Harry asked ignoring the jab at his appearance.
"I can see it," the creature said, still clearly amused, "It's written all over your aura, not to mention your martyred demeanor, deadly but honorable, a good little weapon. A sheep with fangs, but still at the end of the day a sheep, who goes where and does what he's told. That's why you're here in front of this mirror, after all, instead of hunting down the ones who killed the one you cared for."
"And how do you know about that?"
The creature tossed its head dismissively.
"Heroes of any age or culture aren't very difficult to figure out or predict and they always lose the ones they value most. Family, teachers, lovers, it doesn't matter all the loved ones of the heroes fall before their particular cross to bear is defeated. This is simply because a sheep is never more dangerous than when it cares not whether it lives or dies."
"Great," Harry said his voice dripping with sarcasm and false bravado, "So if you can predict me so well why are you even bothering to bother me, why not just leave me to wallow in my misery?"
"Ah, and now we come to the heart of the matter. I need something from you and I am prepared to make you an offer you could refuse if I were in a generous mood, but won't."
Harry gave the creature a wary sort of sideways hopeful look, his wand point not lowering, though he didn't know how much good it would do.
"And what would that be?"
"It is simple, you're a hero, I offer you a way to end your little war or conflict, a way to outmanoeuvre that cross you bear, and you will of course jump at the opportunity. No matter the price, and the price I'm prepared to offer is quite reasonable."
"How can you do that?"
"The thing about mirrors is that they are doors as well as windows. Though, to be fair, looking through them is far easier than walking through them."
"And what makes you think that I'd be stupid enough to get within reach of your claws?"
"Tsk. Tsk. Don't be rude, little sheep, I am bound to keep any bargain I make by a magic older than time, and I am proposing to grant you safe passage through the Mirror Realm to a destination of your choosing within time and space, which means I'll let no harm come to you not even from me. Cross my black withered heart."
"What did you want in return?"
The creature made a ragged high-pitched noise that was barely recognizable as a laugh. A far cry from its musical voice but, Harry thought, more in keeping with its monstrous nature.
"Human sheep," it half scoffed, half giggled, "They get so twitchy when that word is tossed around, soul. Idiot human, tiny pieces of your soul break off each time you touch something or someone leaving a spiritual fingerprint. If I wanted a mortal soul I could just gather the fragments until I had a full one and the Fates only know what in the seven hells I'd do with it."
"So if you don't want my soul what do you really want?"
Harry started his face twisting in surprise and distaste.
"That's it, why?"
"A kiss, freely given, has many interesting properties, not the least of which is immunity from some of the blacker magics and nastier toxins wielded by the denizens of the Mirror Realm and kisses, you may be surprised to find, are far harder to obtain than souls for one such as I. So there you have it little hero, one kiss, freely given, for safe passage through the Mirror Realm to a destination of are the terms acceptable?"
Harry considered the creature before him. Studied its toothy, shit-eating grin very carefully.
He wasn't stupid enough to believe that the thing before him was telling him the whole truth, or even most of it, but if there was a chance for him to end this war before it had even really begun then Harry would take it and be damned. Literally if necessary. The creature was right about one thing after all, except in Disney movies, the hero always lost everyone he cared for and there was usually fuck all he could do about it.
"Yeah, alright. The terms are acceptable," Harry said nodding decisively, "We have a bargain."
"Excellent," hissed the creature through its teeth, sounding inordinately pleased.
Harry shivered, wondering what the hell he'd gotten himself mixed up in even as he realized there was no turning back now.
"Where and when are you headed, little sheep? To the hours prior to the death of you loved one? Perhaps the year your arch foe was born, to slit his defenceless newborn throat in the cradle?"
"June 6th 1910, Diagon Alley, somewhere I won't be seen," Harry instructed firmly.
The creature made an annoyed hissing noise blinking opaque eyelids.
"I should have charged you a higher price, very well sheep, I know just the place. Now for my payment."
Harry grimaced shifting from foot to foot and hoped that he wouldn't actually have to touch the mirror creature to do this.
"Er—how do I—"
"Press your lips against the mirror, foolish child," snapped the creature exasperatedly.
Not wanting to annoy the creature further Harry closed his eyes and carefully pressed his lips to the mouth of his reflection. He counted down from ten in his head and then quickly pulled away flushing pink to his ears with embarrassment.
The creature wasn't mocking his display; however, intent as it was watching the faint lip prints on the mirror.
Harry watched too, wondering if he'd done his part correctly. Apparently he had because even as he watched a small ball of gold light like a firefly floated up from the kiss marks. Greedy claws ushered the tiny glittering sphere into a small glass bottle with a clasp set into the lid and capped it carefully before returning it to its proper spot on the deceptively delicate looking silver chain that was wrapped double from the creature's shoulder to hip.
"Alright, we best get going," said the creature.
With a lunge that Harry could barely follow, much less react too, the creature had pushed its upper torso through to the other side of the mirror and taken a hold of Harry by the simple expedient of digging its talons into the flesh of his arms.
Harry didn't have time to respond or even scream as before he even felt the pain of the punctures the creature had dragged him into the mirror with a ripple of silver.
AN: So, there you have it. More of an introductory chapter than anything, and I do pride myself on my ability to think of semi-creative methods of time travel. Who need's a time turner when you could sell your kisses to an evil mirror entity and without all that paperwork you just know the ministry would make you sign?
Let me know what you guys thought and think in a lovely descriptive review! If you want to say it (or type it as the case may be) I want to hear it (...read it...not a great saying for this particular instance...)
Shutting up now, so go forth and review!