Chapter 3 : The Mirror
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Just as the living grieve the dead, the dead grieve the living. Just as the living know nothing of what happens to the dead, the dead know nothing of what is happening to the living. Though as Aurelia said before, there are times when the lines between the dead and the living become blurred.
It was obvious by Aurelia’s tone that she was hoping that something of the sort would happen to her and Sirius. After James and Lily told her of his fate of a life sentence in Azkaban, she had gone very quiet, and since then became somewhat downcast at the sight of James and Lily together: they were lovers together in death, they had lived long enough to get married and have a baby. Aurelia was separated from her lover by death, she hadn’t lived long enough to be married and take the name, “Mrs. Sirius Black”, and three months after she had conceived her and Sirius’ child (as an engaged couple, they hadn’t been willing to wait—unlike James and Lily—to “do away” with protection when they “did it”), she’d had a miscarriage—the cause of which was a mystery. In short, Aurelia had every right to feel lonely at the sight of James and Lily.
So James and Lily tried to spend time with her separately from each other, and this seemed to help immensely. And if they ever did spend time with her together, they had Ariana with them too—and sometimes Regulus for some inexplicable reason.
A couple of times James caught Regulus deep in conversation with Aurelia and the conversations seemed nothing short of intimate. This concerned James somewhat, mostly because it gave him the crazy idea that his best friend’s dead fiancée was having an affair with his best friend’s dead brother in the afterlife, which is a situation he never thought he’d encounter in his wildest dreams when he was alive. However, he had a theory. He thought maybe Aurelia was just trying to feel less alone—using Regulus, who slightly resembled Sirius, though he was not nearly as good-looking—as a temporary “Sirius” until the day when Sirius arrived finally came. So, after one day of strolling through a lovely woodland glade, James pulled her aside and said, “You know he’s not Sirius, don’t you? Even as much as he may resemble him, he’s still just his younger brother.”
“I know,” said Aurelia somewhat tersely. “Regulus has no interest in me, and I definitely don’t have any in him. But I think I can bridge the gap between him and everyone else. Despite his redemption, he’s still not comfortable speaking with the people he’d been against—fighting against—for so long. For practically his whole life. But the fact that he and I would have been in-laws is common ground—at least enough for him to feel alright talking to me. But—I promised him that I wouldn’t go into what we’ve been talking about, so…I won’t go any further. Okay?”
“Okay,” said James with a resigned sigh.
“Thank you, so much,” said Aurelia, her demeanor softening, so that now she just seemed tired again. She managed a kind smile however and walked past him to join the others strolling down the glade.
James watched her a moment before he too followed suit.
In the world of the dead, it’s all like a very lucid dream. Whatever you want you only have to think of it, and it appears into your existence. You create your own little universe within a universe. James and Lily liked the glade well enough, and so they thought up a small, quaint little cottage for them to live in together.
They grew into a routine over time, making tea in the copper kettle on the wood stove in the morning, exploring their imaginations with Aurelia, Ariana—and sometimes Regulus—like the time when they laid in the field of grass in a circle and controlled the shapes of the clouds…. When they grew tired, night fell, and James and Lily went home to their cottage on the glade, had dinner, and cuddled in bed, hardly daring to believe that death could be like this.
And one afternoon they actually recalled the initial sensation of death, of dying. They hadn’t really been aware of it when it had truly been happening, because they’d been so worried about Harry and each other and everyone else they knew who was still alive and they’d left behind, and on top of that their deaths had come upon them so suddenly they barely even realized they were dead at first. But now they could recall the sensation as clearly as if it were happening to them all over again: it had been like falling…through a veil….
Once while they were exploring the mountains, Aurelia pointed out to them the glowing orb in the sky where souls could go if they wished to be reborn.
Later that evening, when Lily and James were naked in bed, holding each other beneath the blankets, James said, “What do you think about it?”
“’Bout what?” Lily murmured into James’ bare chest.
“Being reborn,” James replied into her dark red hair.
Lily grew more alert as she raised her green eyes to meet James’ hazel ones. “What if we never found each other again?”
James leaned over and whispered in her ear, “What if we’re soul mates, and we always find each other no matter what?”
Lily giggled at the playfulness in his tone, and the tickling sensation on her ear caused by James’ breathy whisper. “Oh, Prongs…” she teased, “I still don’t like the idea. Let’s wait.” She looked at him again as he pulled back slightly to meet her gaze. “We have the whole of eternity, after all.”
The laughter built up in both Lily’s and James’ eyes, and soon they were entirely laughing the idea of being reborn away, pocketing it in the backs of their minds to save it for a rainy day.
One evening, James and Lily were taking a moonlit stroll in a grand garden that was so elaborate and ornate that it made the French Muggle palace grounds of Versailles look like nothing more than a mere shrubbery. As they turned a corner, they stumbled upon a crowd of people, who all turned to look at them at once.
“Oh, sorry,” said James. “Er…please, excuse us—” But then he stopped short, and with a thrill of excitement, he picked out his Uncle Everard from the crowd. “Everard!” he called, striding towards his father’s older brother, who resembled him highly.
“Ah! My favorite nephew!” said Everard Potter, embracing James. “Aldous, look who it is!”
James turned to find himself face to face with his father, Aldous Potter—and there was his mother, Leandra Potter, right beside him. James embraced them both.
Lily, meanwhile, suddenly realized that she recognized half the members of the crowd as well: she too was being reunited with her own deceased Muggle family, the Evans’, from her mother, Violet Evans, with dark red hair, to her father, Harry Evans, with bright green, almond-shaped eyes, and for whom her and James’ son Harry was named.
There were more members of the Evans family, some with dark red hair, some with bright green, almond-shaped eyes, and some with both, and some with neither. All of the knobbly-kneed relatives were on the Potter’s side of the family.
Then the Potter and the Evans families invited James and Lily for a lovely brunch in the center of the garden for the following morning. James and Lily obliged, and the next morning at 10 o’clock they arrived with two batches of Lily’s breakfast broomsticks.
During this lovely brunch, amidst all the babble and chit-chat, every single person in attendance heard a voice chant in their heads:
“I show not your face but your heart’s desire.”
Then everyone looked around to see that a giant mirror had appeared, and then everything around them changed into what appeared to be of all things—an unused classroom in Hogwarts castle.
“Look!” whispered Harry Evans. “The chanting’s coming from the mirror.”
At this, everyone approached the mirror, James and Lily at the very front of both families. As they drew nearer, Aldous Potter said, “It’s the Mirror of Erised!”
“Someone must be deeply and desperately desiring us as they gaze into the mirror then!” laughed his brother, Everard. “Someone in Hogwarts, that is!”
“But who could that be?” Leandra Potter wondered aloud.
When they saw a solitary shape materialize in the mirror they stopped.
And Lily and James’ hearts would have stopped too (if they hadn’t already stopped because they were dead).
Standing alone before them from within the mirror, with the classroom as the only thing that was being reflected normally, was a skinny boy no older than eleven, his hand clapped over his mouth as if to keep himself from screaming.
And they recognized him immediately. He had James’ tousled, untidy, jet-black hair—he even wore the same dark, round glasses that James did—or used to—and yet at the same time he had green, almond shaped eyes. Then there was the scar…the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead….
They remembered that scar.
There was only one boy in the world that could look like an eleven-year old James Potter, but have Lily Potter’s eyes, and a distinctive scar on his forehead.
It was their son, Harry.
And he was…he was at Hogwarts! Just like Everard said…someone at Hogwarts was desperately desiring them as they gazed into the mirror…and that someone was Harry Potter.
It seemed he’d been about to scream because he hadn’t expected to see them standing there. He whirled around, apparently under the impression that they were all in the room in Hogwarts with him. If only he knew how much James and Lily wished that were so. While his back was turned, they exchanged fleeting glances, smiling with a mixture of sadness and joy.
That’s our boy there, they were saying silently to each other, look how much he’s grown….
They went on smiling as they looked back into the mirror at their son. He had just turned around to face them again, having found no one else with him in the room in Hogwarts. He was as white as a sheet, and he seemed to be trembling.
They watched as he drew his brows together. He seemed to be thinking now; wondering.
His eyes fell on Lily’s face, and she waved to him, her throat growing tight. And then Harry reached out behind him, over his shoulder, feeling the air. He was checking to see if she could really be behind him. But alas, she wasn’t.
Her son gazed harder at her, studying her carefully, edging a little closer to the mirror, their green eyes locked. Lily felt her own sting, fill with tears, her throat burning now, her chest constricting with a dull pain. In all of her time being dead, she had never felt more alive than she did now, standing there with her husband, both of them longing to put their arms around their son, who was standing right there…and yet he wasn’t…and so they couldn’t….
James heard Lily give the faintest, most inaudible sniff, but he knew she was fighting back tears, just as he was. He put his arm around her, beaming proudly at his son, glad to know that obviously Petunia and her family had treated him well enough that he’d survived long enough to see Hogwarts. James would have bet a hundred million galleons that Harry had been sorted into Gryffindor house, and his nostalgic smile widened at the thought. He gently tightened the hold of his arm around Lily’s shoulders.
Harry, meanwhile, was so close to the mirror now that his nose was probably a hair’s breadth away from touching his own reflection on the other side. He studied both James and Lily, his green eyes searching, questioning. And then he whispered, in a small voice that everyone was somehow able to hear quite clearly: “Mum? Dad?”
They just looked at him, smiling, too overwhelmed with a flood of mixed emotions to speak.
Harry glanced around at the rest of the family—at James’ side, and Lily’s—and James and Lily felt them all waving back at him. His eyes grew verdantly hungry, and he pressed his hands against the glass, as though hoping he could fall right into the mirror and be with them.
The powerful aches inside James and Lily intensified with each passing moment, but all the while they went on smiling at Harry.
They could not leave unless Harry stopped looking into the mirror, not that they wanted to leave. And Harry remained gazing longingly at them all for a great while indeed. Until, it seemed, he heard a noise somewhere in the castle, for his eyes grew wide with alarm and alertness. The spell broken, he tore his eyes from Lily’s face, and they heard him mutter, “I’ll come back,” and then watched as he hurried from the room, throwing around his shoulders something that made him disappear: James’ old invisibility cloak.
“Oh…” said James, his stopped heart glowing, if possible, even more.
“Your cloak…” Lily mumbled, smiling sadly into James’ shoulder and wrapping her arms around his middle as the mirror vanished.
Since death-time passed by so much more slowly than life-time, only an hour went by in death-time, while in life-time, a whole day would have passed. And thus, after an hour of the mirror’s vanishing, it reappeared just as James and Lily were helping their families clean up their brunch. Just as before, it called to them, and they went to it. And standing there once again was Harry, beaming at them as they beamed back. “See?” they heard him whisper.
James and Lily furrowed their brows in confusion. Was Harry with someone this time? A friend of his perhaps? It made sense. Naturally, after seeing them last night, he’d want to come and see them again—and show them to a friend while he was at it. So…he obviously didn’t know that the mirror only showed people their hearts’ deepest desires, and that this friend of his would not be able to see them like he could. Similarly, they could not see Harry’s friend. They could not even hear him or her. Somehow they’d been able to hear Harry—though they didn’t know if Harry could hear them, but they couldn’t have spoken even if he could have, their emotions overwhelmed them so. But they were definitely sure that they couldn’t hear Harry’s friend, because there was a pause of silence, as Harry was looking at the empty air beside him, seeming to be listening, his brows drawn together in puzzlement. And then he spoke again, gesturing towards the mirror, saying, “Look! Look at them all…there are loads of them….”
“Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am,” Harry said. He stepped back to allow his friend to have a gander from the spot where you had to stand in order for it to work. A moment after he’d stepped back, the mirror disappeared.
“Ah, well, that was a bit shorter than the first time,” said Everard Potter, clapping his hands together. “Better get back to cleaning up this mess.” He and the rest of the Potters and the Evans’ as well dispersed and returned to clearing the long brunch table.
James and Lily remained rooted to the spot, hoping the mirror would reappear and they’d see their son again. When it did not reappear after another five or so minutes of waiting, they sighed and joined their families in cleaning up.
Another hour passed, and by that time, the Potters and the Evans' had set up a crochet game. And then the mirror appeared again. James and Lily almost ran to it as they answered its call, and there was Harry, his face full of jubilancy. He was slightly breathless, and it seemed he too had almost run to the mirror. James and Lily beamed, their insides bursting with love and happiness.
And then Harry seated himself cross-legged on the floor, resting his chin in his hands. He watched them as a child might do while sitting before a television screen. He was mesmerized, and at the same time, yearning attentively. Focused, but at the same time, daydreaming.
That is, until he straightened, pulled from his little stupor, his eyes wide with fear. A bucket of ice might have fallen down and hit the pit of his stomach. He turned around in his seat on the hardwood floor and said to yet another person in the room whom James and Lily and the others obviously could not see: “I—I didn’t see you, sir.”
Oh, no, he’s been discovered by a teacher! Lily thought with panic. She glanced at James, who shrugged, but thankfully he appeared concerned as well.
They waited with bated breath (even though they no longer had any breath) expecting to see Harry rise and walk from the mirror with his head hung in shame, full of the sting of punishment. James remembered that feeling, though he’d never hung his head, because he’d always had Sirius by his side, reminding him that at least he wasn’t going it alone, and the two of them would be chatting soon enough using Sirius’ two-way mirrors while in their separate detentions. Meanwhile, Harry, his son, had just had to inherit James’ habit of making mischief among everything else. James wasn’t all that surprised. Somehow, this thought made him both proud and exasperated simultaneously.
However, it didn’t seem that he was getting in trouble, because Harry, continuing to sit there with his back turned to the mirror, next said: “I didn’t know it was called that, sir.”
Obviously he was being drawn into a discussion about the mirror. That could only mean one thing about the identity of the teacher who was with him.
James and Lily glanced at each other. Albus Dumbledore.
Relieved, somehow, they stood there, watching and listening to Harry’s half of his conversation with the Hogwarts headmaster, whom they themselves could not see or hear. First they heard him tell Dumbledore that he could see his family in the mirror, and then he started to ask how Dumbledore knew about something—probably how he knew that he and his friend had been down to the mirror on Harry’s second visit, and what his friend had seen when he looked in it as well. Dumbledore just seemed to know things. Then Harry shook his head in reply possibly to a query put forth by Dumbledore. And then, slowly, he was able to answer what the mirror did, in a way.
So their son was a smart boy too. Well, that was only to be expected really.
Harry sat there a little while longer, listening to the headmaster talk, and his parents watched him, absorbing the sight of him, even if he did have his back turned to them the whole time. And then he stood, and without looking back walked from the spot before the mirror where you had to stand to make it work, and Harry and the mirror were both swallowed out of sight.
The mirror did not reappear to them again.
James and Lily told Aurelia and Ariana about their experience with the mirror on their very next outing together, Regulus being voluntarily absent for this one. That day they were walking along a sunny, sandy beach, the coastline touched by the waters of a sapphire blue ocean. The breeze was comfortably warm, and the sand was wonderfully warm too, and James and Lily loved the grit feel of it between their toes. They were all barefoot and dressed for swimming, Lily and Aurelia wearing sarongs around their waists that fluttered gently in the wind. Earlier on, they had come across some white lilies, and James had picked one and put it in Lily’s dark red hair, which shimmered shades of deep gold in the sunlight.
Ariana seemed simply delighted by the idea of the Mirror of Erised. Aurelia on the other hand smiled sadly and said, “Too bad Sirius can’t stumble upon a Mirror of Erised in Azkaban.”
Lily reached over and rubbed her back consolingly, and this seemed to make Aurelia feel a little better.
A few weeks went by, and James and Lily stopped hoping for the Mirror of Erised to reappear. They returned to enjoying the routine of their life in death, happy to know at least that Harry was doing alright, safe and sound at Hogwarts.
And then one night, as Lily descended into sleep in James’ arms beneath the blankets of their bed in their little cottage in the glade, her mind began to conjure the first glimmers of a vivid dream. She was in a room, windowless, gloomy, tucked away from the world. And there she saw the Mirror of Erised! And standing before it, she saw—
Who faced someone else in the room, his face bloodless.
Lily whipped around and saw, with horror, a snakelike face coming out of the back of some wizard’s head. It was nothing like the face she had seen as the life had been wiped from her body so many years ago, but she knew it belonged to the very same person.
And he spoke to Harry in an awful, snake-like hissing voice, high and cold and devoid of pity or any other human feeling. He whispered Harry’s name, and Harry stood there, frozen, as Voldemort went on and on about what he’d been reduced to because of what happened when the Killing Curse rebounded on him so long ago.
So…he wasn’t dead…? He wasn’t gone for good…?
In her terror, Lily got that feeling where you think the dream or nightmare is actually happening. She tried to place herself between Voldemort and her son, as she had done before when he was a baby, but something beyond her control rooted her to the spot. She could only watch. She couldn’t even yell. When she tried to call out to Harry, no words came out of her mouth.
And then Voldemort silkily asked for some sort of stone that was apparently in Harry’s pocket.
Harry stumbled backward.
“Don’t be a fool,” snarled Voldemort. “Better save your own life and join me…or you’ll meet the same end as your parents…. They died begging me for mercy….”
Lily watched as all fear suddenly vanished from her son’s face.
“LIAR!” he shouted.
Voldemort smiled wickedly and spoke of how touching it was that Harry was brave, just like his parents. He spoke of how James had put up a courageous fight, and of how Lily need not have died, for she had only been trying to protect Harry. And then he told Harry to give him that stone, so that Lily wouldn’t have had to die in vain….
“NEVER!” Harry made for a flame door, but Voldemort ordered his host-wizard to seize him, screaming at the top of his voice.
Everything whirled and spun around Lily, and darkness enveloped her, and she tried to reach for Harry, but could only hear the sounds of him yelling and Voldemort screaming for his host-wizard to kill him.
And then Lily screamed. She sprang up in bed screaming, shaking and sweating. And she felt James lying beside her, gasping as his hazel eyes flew open. He struggled to sit up as well, and the two of them looked at each other.
“Did you dream—?” Lily began breathlessly.
“About Voldemort—?” James panted.
“And Harry?” they finished together.
They reached for the other’s hand and held on tight. Somehow, they realized, what they’d seen…it had been real. It had really been happening…in the world of the living….
“He’s brave,” Lily whispered.
“Definitely a Gryffindor,” James said weakly.
“Will he be alright? Isn’t there anything…?”
“No. I—I don’t know.”
They sat in tense silence, listening to the rhythm of the crickets outside. Uncertain of their son’s fate, they got back underneath the covers and fell asleep once more in each other’s arms. They awoke the next morning to the same tension, afraid they’d find him, here, with them…dead. Slowly, but surely, however, the days wore on, one day to the next, and no sign of him, no trace of him, anywhere in the world of the dead.
And then they knew. They knew in their stilled hearts what the truth was.
Their boy, the Boy Who Lived…had lived again.
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