Disclaimer: Just so you know, there's one part in this chapter that is quite similar to a chapter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Soo, that, along with all the characters you recognize from the series, all belong to the genius that is J.K Rowling. Hope you like it!
The days preceding the masquerade ball involved many silent discussions between the marauders in any classes they shared. What these days didn't
involve, however, is much listening to professors in said classes.
"Mr. Potter!" snapped Professor McGonagall. James raised his head from the huddled group of marauders to look at his professor.
"What do you call a human transfigured into an animal's shape, while still having its mental abi-"
"An animagus," James retorted before she could even finish her question. She and the rest of the class (except the marauders, of course) gaped at James for either answering such a difficult question while hardly paying attention, or the fact that he interrupted Professor McGonagall.
The former seemed to strike McGonagall more as she returned to her former state, gave the faintest of smiles, and replied, "Correct."
She continued on her lesson, the boys now pretending to listen, though they already knew all about animagi since fifth year. This was a good thing for James, considering these past few days, he hadn't been paying much attention in any of his classes. His mind was too preoccupied with the planning sessions he had with the marauders after lessons.
They had now established the basics as to what they were going to do to make this ball happen. The boys had taken a few unauthorized night-time strolls to Hogsmeade and purchased a few snacks and decorations for the Great Hall, but Dumbledore was kind enough to provide a large amount for them already. Remus thought that it would be good to put up a few posters as a reminder to the students, but Sirius insisted that he just bark out a reminder periodically, which served to be a better reminder than any poster. Yep, they'd gotten pretty much everything ready. Except for what was perhaps the most significant detail of a masquerade ball.
The masks. And the formal clothing. No one at Hogwarts had any sort of fancy suit or dress, and definitely didn't own some sort of elaborate mask. They had been searching the library for any special potions or charms that could have made this possible, but to no avail. He then recalled passing a clothing shop in Hogsmeade many times with his mates: Gladrags Wizardwear. He wasn't too hopeful on finding anything, but it was the day before the ball, and it was worth a shot. So, in Charms, James wrote a note on a piece of parchment. He whispered "Geminio" twice, and found himself with three identical copies of the same note. He levitated said notes and silently landed them in front of his three best mates.
The three marauders eyed James suspiciously, and each opened their note to find the same message in James' excited, rushed, yet strangely neat and legible scrawl:
Meet at the entrance to the common room at eleven. Wormtail, bring my cloak. Remus, bring the Phantom book. Padfoot, bring the map. And your wallet.
And all of you bring your own cloaks. Hogsmeade gets cold at night, darlings!
Sirius, Remus and Peter all hung their heads down, smirked and sighed, "Oh James".
The marauders did as they were told and met James outside the Gryffindor common room, right by the portrait of the Fat Lady, at eleven 'o' clock.
"Hey guys! You all brought everything, right?" asked James, greeting his friends.
They all nodded their heads in confirmation, when Remus asked, "What's this about, James?"
"Well, tomorrow's the masquerade ball, and we still don't exactly have any masks, let alone formal clothing," replied James, "So, as a last resort sort of thing, we're going to scour all of Gladrags wizardwear in Hogsmeade for anything remotely formal."
"Prongs, me mum's taken me to Gladrags," said Sirius, almost shuddering at the thought of his atrocious mother, "The most decorative clothes there are the socks."
"Well, we've got to try!" snapped James, "And if we don't find anything, then... we'll just scour up some sort of Transfiguration spell. It'll work."
"Bloody Hell, Prongs. You're insanely whipped to Evans."
"Let's just go, okay?! Book?" Remus grudgingly raised the book he held, "Check. Map?" Sirius held the map and whispered the words, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." and the drawings and moving dots sprang to life, showing that the map was ready for use, "Check. And Cloak?" Peter held out James' cloak, which he had borrowed for a late-night visit to the kitchens. James took the cloak and spread it over the four marauders, having to squish together, until they were now invisible to an outsider's eye, "Check. Okay, let's go."
"Which passageway are we using, Prongs?" asked Peter.
"The one-eyed witch one, of course."
"James, maybe we should take a different passageway," said Remus.
"Er, Prongs?" started Sirius, though for once, nobody heard him.
"And why not? I've happened to grow fond of the witch," retorted James.
"Well, I think Filch is starting to get suspicious. I saw him patrolling carefully close to the witch on the Map last night," said Remus nervously.
"Pfft. That smarmy squib wouldn't notice if his cat started growing a second head. Say, we should do that for our next pran-OWWWW!" James yelped in pain after Sirius pinched his ear much like James had a few days ago. He would have surely yelled an abundance of profanity at his mate, had his screams not have been immediately muffled by Sirius' hand. He was just about to bite down on Sirius' palm when he hissed, "Filch is coming down the corridor."
The boys turned to hide behind the witch, so that Filch would not bump into him. Well, all the boys, except for James. When the other three marauders had moved to the witch, and James in the opposite direction, the cloak slid over James, now leaving him completely uncovered.
He heard the footsteps approaching, so he reached for the closest hiding place he could find, and opened the door to an empty room.
He steadied his breathing, and heard that Filch's footsteps had stopped. He might've heard James' yelp of pain, and was now inspecting the source of the noise. His footsteps seemed to gradually leave James' hiding spot, so James stepped out of his crouched position, and just looked around the room, until it was safe enough for his friends to come find him.
And then he saw it.
It was a magnificent mirror, and tall. As high as the wall it covered. The frame was golden, and James felt compelled to scrutinize it further. As he approached the mirror, he saw his reflection, messy jet-black hair, and gleaming hazel eyes. Except, right now, those eyes were wide in shock, for he not only saw himself.
He saw Lily.
She was right beside him. She didn't seem to register or acknowledge how alarmed he was. She just smiled her glorious Lily-smile, meeting James' stare, something he had always yearned for. And her emerald eyes gleamed in a much different way than they normally would when looking at James. But James recognized the glint very easily. It was exactly how his eyes became whenever he saw Lily. Then, as if James couldn't already be so undyingly happy, she did something else. James' saw her soft, delicate fingers inch towards his. Then intertwine with his. A perfect fit. And still smiling, she turned to James, stood on her toes, and kissed James on the cheek. He could almost feel the smile in her soft kiss.
Almost feel it. For despite having seen his dream realized, James felt hollow. Hollow, because he didn't feel Lily's silky fingers against his, and he didn't feel Lily's warm kiss. He didn't feel anything. He only saw it.
"A little late to be out of dormitories, isn't it, Mr. Potter?"
James jumped and turned around to find Professor Dumbledore, "I- I didn't see you, sir."
"Yes, well I doubt you would see my reflection in the Mirror of Erised," said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling.
The Mirror of Erised? "Er, Professor, if you don't mind my asking, what does this mirror do?"
"Well, James, let me explain. If the happiest man on earth were to look in the Mirror of Erised, he would see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?"
James smiled at his Headmaster's riddled answer, "I think so. Does that mean that you see what makes you happy?"
"In its most basic explanation, yes. But in complete truth, this mirror shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts."
James furrowed his brow at the statement. He knew that he was very fond of Lily Evans, but his greatest desire? But then, distracting himself from his troubled thought, he instead came up with an idea.
"Professor? Do you think it would be possible to modify this mirror? For example, instead of showing one's greatest desire, it could show something as simple as where you lost your quill, or... what particular outfit you would most like to wear at a ball, perhaps?"
Dumbledore smiled gently, "Ah Mr. Potter, you are quite the clever man. Yes, I believe that with a few complex spells, the mirror's purpose could be modified for one night."
"Thanks, Professor," grinned James gratefully. He never was one to be so formal around his superiors, anyway.
"No, thank you, James," said Dumbledore, "Your idea was quite clever, and I always love having clever ideas at hand, for any particular situations that could come across my life."
James was certain that Dumbledore was slightly off his rocker, but then again, aren't the wisest of wizards?
"Well, then, you're welcome."
"Yes," Dumbledore yawned, "Well, I best be getting my rest. I'm afraid my old bones aren't quite up for late-night endeavours as they were before," just as he turned to leave, he paused and looked back at James, a knowing smile upon his face, "And if you could tell Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin, and Mr. Pettigrew to show their manners next time and greet their old headmaster instead of hiding behind a statue, it would be greatly appreciated."
He would have burst out in laughter, had he not remembered that he was exploring Hogwarts after hours, and that Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris, had bloody sensitive ears. So instead he gave a hearty chuckle, and nodded, "I'll tell them, professor". With that, Professor Dumbledore turned and exited the room, not making a sound. Mere seconds afterwards, Sirius, Remus, and Peter barged into the room.
"Merlin, that was close! I thought he'd never leave!" Sirius barked.
"Actually, Padfoot, Dumbledore told me to tell you that you are very disrespectful blokes for not greeting your headmaster in the middle of the night."
"Oh, bollocks! Does that man have his own marauder's map or something because I will- wait. He caught you? And... didn't surrender you to Filch?" Sirius asked, bewildered.
James nodded with a smile, leaving Sirius even more confused, "He's a kind man, that Dumbledore. Kind and wise."
As Sirius gawked at his friend's unfazed expression, Peter asked, "So, does this mean we're not going to Hogsmeade?"
Again James smiled, "Don't have to. My new best mate Dumbledore helped me fix that problem."
"Smashing," Remus snapped sarcastically, "Now can we go to sleep?"
"Very well, Moony," James said much calmer than his friend had spoken. He knew how grouchy Remus could get without sleep, which just gets heightened 50 times more every full moon, "Back to the common room!" He whisper-yelled.
But as everyone turned to the direction of the common room, James piped up, "Wait!" Everyone turned, and stared (Remus exasperatedly) at James.
"I, er, forgot something in the room. You guys go ahead. I'll catch up with you."
They all were a bit cautious to answer, but then Remus responded, "Okay, but you keep the cloak with you. We'll do fine with the map."
James gave him a grateful smile, "Thanks."
As the rest of the marauders left, James walked back into the room. He found exactly what he was looking for, in the exact place it was before.
The Mirror of Erised.
He looked into it, already knowing what he would find, but still couldn't stop the surge of happiness that greeted him with her smile. His heart thumped as she inched closer to him, intertwining their fingers once more (though James felt no difference in his hands), and resting her head on his shoulder. Slowly, she fluttered her eyes shut.
They both sighed. One in content, and the other in longing.
She slowly lifted her head, looked into his eyes, and gave the most brilliant smile. And she did just what she had done before. Her eyes locked with his before she turned and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek. One that he couldn't feel at all.
His heart ached. She was once again so close, and yet not close enough.
Still, despite his fatigue and heartache, he managed to utter a few words to his heart's greatest desire before he left for his dormitory.
He gave a sad smile as he told her, "I'll make your dream turn out as perfect as you are, Lily".
Disclaimer (again): Well, the part similar to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone was the end of chapter 12: The Mirror of Erised. The only parts I quoted or made similar are found on pages 156-157 :)
A/N: Done! Sorry that took a little while to write :p But the next chapter is.. (Drum roll) .. the Masquerade Ball! Now I hope I can make this climactic part of the story as amazing and interesting as I'm hoping and wanting it to be, for me, and for you guys, of course. :) Still not sure if I'm going to make this part into two chapters or not. I guess we'll both see ;) Anyways, what'd you think of this chapter? Hope you enjoyed it, and the ones to come :)