Chapter 1 : Forgetting to Live
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Forgetting to Live
The mirror stood in a corner, glistening in the moonlight that streamed gently through the open glass windows.
The moonlight quivered fragilely over its smooth, glossy surface, almost visible as it shimmered across the empty room. The normally grey flagstones of the floor were now an icy blue and the low arches cast dark, threatening shadows over them.
He took a single step into the room and immediately felt colder. Shivering slightly he drew his cloak more tightly around him and bravely took another step towards the mirror.
If this was the room that Dumbledore had spoken of, then this was the mirror.
This was it. This was what he had been looking for.
Perhaps not all his life, but once he had heard of it he could not rid it from his mind. He had to see it. He had to know.
The mirror would be moved soon, for protection. He had to see it before Dumbledore took it from him.
The icy chill in the room came from the wind that blew through an open window. It ruffled the edges of his robes and his cloak flapped around his ankles. He fastened his grip on the cloak, pulled it tightly around himself once again and forced himself into the room properly.
Not a sound to be heard. The night didn't even bring a whisper. Nothing stirred in the shadowy corners. Only the mirror was there.
It stood upright, as tall as the ceiling, it's beautiful, golden frame gone slightly rusty with age, yet it still shone in the light.
Its surface was unlike any other mirror he'd ever seen. It looked normal to anyone who did not understand the full extent of it's powers, but now that he knew of them he noticed the strange, unnatural way that the glass seemed to ripple a little as the light touched it, or the way the mirror seemed to have a peculiar depth to it, as though upon looking at it you might find yourself gazing into a whole other world.
He hesitated a little. Dumbledore had warned him about the wonderful, yet potentially deadly power of the mirror. At first he had been inclined to stay away from it.
But then he had begun to imagine. Imagine what it would be like. What it might feel like to see her face again.
It had nagged at the back of his mind, his longing growing stronger and stronger until finally he could stand it no longer. He had come in the dead of night. To satisfy his desperate need to see her again. To quench his thirst by having just one more glance in her direction.
And here was the mirror. It could give him what he wanted. The only thing he wanted.
So why did he feel reluctant to step in front of it?
Why did he dread what he might see in it?
Why was he so afraid?
He was a coward. A terrible coward.
He was a coward for letting her get away and a coward for not being able to let her go.
It had been years since he'd seen her face. And he had to see her face. He just had to.
You are a coward, he thought.
The words seemed to drive him forwards. He took a few more steps towards the mirror, his breath becoming ragged and shallow and he drew closer and closer to it.
He took a final deep breath and stepped in front of the mirror.
And there she was. The sight of her took his breath away.
All of his strength left him in an instant and he fell to his knees in front of her, his eyes never faltering from her gaze.
And this gaze…It was perfect. It was how he always wanted her to look at him. With those perfect green eyes.
He could have written a whole book about those eyes.
They were so deep and understanding, and the way they looked at you made you feel instantly warmer. Immediately more like a better version of yourself.
The green stood out so effortlessly, so beautifully.
He saw those eyes every day. Not in his dreams, nor his nightmares but in the face of her son. The son that reminded him every day of his pain and his humiliation.
His face resembled his father's altogether too closely. The man that she had chosen over him, cared for more than him, loved more than him.
Every time he saw that messy black hair, those glasses…the green eyes that he recognized all too well, it was almost unbearable to recognize them. It reminded him of everything he had lost.
There he was, his reflection kneeling in front of the mirror. She stood behind him, smiling softly down in the way she used to. With the corers of her lips just raised and her eyes gentle, deep and all-knowing. The wise arches of her eyebrows and the perfect colour of her lips. The way her cheeks developed a faint line as her lips stretched into a smile.
He looked up at her from where he knelt. She was wearing a long, pale dress, the colour of the moon, that flowed to the floor and never seemed to end. The moonlight touched her hair and she became a vision.
Her hair, longer and brighter than ever, streaming down her back, the beautiful colour of autumn leaves was the only source of warm light in the room.
And in that moment the cold seemed to disappear, replaced by a familiar warmth and comfort.
Almost as though she really stood there.
She put a hand on his shoulder. He shivered at her touch, even though he could not feel it. He felt his heart break a thousand times over to know that he would never feel her touch again.
The ache burnt in his heart like a flame. It wasn't a warm, comforting one. Instead it was a burning, scorching, destructive one.
He smiled up at her, a weak smile, but a smile none-the-less. Her smile made every sad, angry thought he’d ever had melt away.
“Lily,” he croaked.
The sound of her name made her small, secretive smile break into a cheerful grin, her whole face breaking up into small lines of happiness. She looked almost real.
“I,” his voice rasped, sounding desperate with his longing to reach out and touch her, “I miss you.”
At this her smile faltered and her face showed an aching sadness.
He felt a tear stream down his cheek.
* * *
“Back again Severus?”
I spun around in shock. Dumbledore stood there in the moonlight, his long white beard even paler in the moonlight that I had now become used to. He stood upright, his hands clasped in front of him, a knowing smile firmly in place.
I turned back to the mirror.
Lily stood between us, apparently unaware that Dumbledore had interrupted.
She continued to smile sweetly at me, all her attention focused on me.
I did my best to ignore Dumbledore but his presence was becoming more and more intrusive.
“What?” I asked roughly, wishing that he might leave us in peace.
“Severus,” he said, “Step away from the mirror.”
His voice was gentle and soft.
“No,” I said firmly. I wanted to stay here forever, just watching her, being with her.
“Severus-” he began again.
“I’m not going!” I cried, tearing my eyes away from Lily and looking angrily back at him.
“Men have wasted their lives in front of this mirror, Severus,” sighed Dumbledore, almost impatiently.
I turned back to the mirror. Lily’s face continued to smile at me. I lifted my hand to the glass and touched her cheek. The cold, flat, unbearably hard surface met my fingertips and it was all I could do not to collapse onto the floor.
“My life is over,” I murmured, gazing at her in the glass, my hands desperately reaching out to touch her, desperate to feel her, “As long as she is gone I have my whole life to waste.”
“Not as long as you still stand here Severus,” said Dumbledore firmly, “You know that you cannot stay here.”
“And I cannot leave her!” I cried out, suddenly gripped with a terror that Dumbledore might try to take her away from me.
I saw Dumbledore’s face in the mirror turn into an expression of pity and I felt pathetic. Pathetic and weak.
“You are not weak,” said Dumbledore, as though he was reading my thoughts, “You have sacrificed yourself to protect her.”
“And I couldn’t!” I yelled in agony, staring at her, willing her to step out of the frame and come before my eyes. She only looked back at me helplessly, trapped forever behind the mirror.
“Harry is alive,” said Dumbledore, his blue eyes bearing into me, “You must protect him instead.”
I said nothing. I just stared vulnerably at Lily’s reflection.
“You cannot save her anymore,” said Dumbledore, “I warned you Severus, about the mirror. Lily Potter may be dead, but she lives on in the hearts of those that loved her. In your heart, Severus. Not in the mirror.”
Lily laughed quietly to herself and looked up at me shyly, happily.
“I just…” I croaked, “I want her.”
“Severus,” said Dumbledore, smiling kindly, “It does not do to wish for something you cannot have. If you do, then you will forget to live."
I remained silent. I had nothing more to say.
“Do you know that Harry has found the mirror too?” asked Dumbledore, approaching me gently. “He used to come here often as well. Do you know what he sees, Severus? His mother. And his father. And the rest of his family. You are not the only one who wishes for Lily Evans.”
I continued to gaze at her, wishing that Dumbledore would stop talking.
“Come now, Severus. Let us not dwell on the dreams of the past,” sighed Dumbledore, “I was planning to move the mirror soon, but now I see that it must be moved tomorrow at the latest.”
He broke his watchful stare upon me and made for the door the stood in a shadowy corner of the room.
I knew he was right.
My eyes looked their last on Lily Evans, memorising everything about her, even though it was already imprinted into my memory. And always would be until the day I died.
“I will…always,” I chocked on my tears, speaking only to her, “always...”
I couldn’t finish. But she nodded softly as though she understood. As though she already knew.
As I tore my gaze away she lifted her arm gracefully and she waved softly after me.
The sight broke my heart a thousand times over.
Because Lily Evans made me forget to live.