Chapter 12 : The Deepest, Most Desperate Desire of his Heart
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“Well done!” Lily said brightly.
The relief that was coursing through Remus was indescribable. He looked up at the staff table. He met Dumbledore’s gaze and the headmaster winked. Remus smiled back, feeling as happy as he done the moment he saw the Hogwarts crest on his letter.
It was so much easier to watch the other first-years being sorted now that Remus had gone through the slightly traumatic task himself. Another new Gryffindor had been added to the table a few moments later, Mary McDonald. Remus cheered with the rest when the Sorting Hat called out her destined house. It was Peter’s turn soon after, as his second-name was Pettigrew. The hat took an awful long time sorting Peter. Some of the older students were getting excited. Then suddenly the hat yelled: “GRYFFINDOR!”
Several older students moaned. “Another fourteen seconds and that would have been a hat-stall!” someone said.
“Hat-stall?” Remus repeated, as he clapped along with the rest. He had never heard of the word.
“It’s when the hat takes more than five minutes to sort someone. They’re really rare, only once every fifty years or something. I think aul McGonagall and Flitwick were the last recorded hat-stalls,” explained a tall and rather burly boy, who had a prefect’s badge pinned to his chest.
Peter sat down opposite Remus, Lily and Sirius. He still looked in shock. Remus congratulated him and Peter smiled warmly. Then it was Sirius’s friend’s turn, that boy with the messy hair and glasses, James Potter. The hat had barely touched his head when he was put in Gryffindor. Sirius cheered louder than anyone else. Next there were a string of students who ended up being in Slytherin, including one Evan Roiser, who actually looked like a dark-wizard in the making. Remus almost shivered when he saw the boy’s cold eyes. Then it was Severus’s turn. Remus was actually half-hoping that he got into Gryffindor too, and the hat did take a while to decide, before putting him in Slytherin. Lily looked bitterly disappointed at this turn of events. Finally, there were only two students left, a ‘Talbot, Luke’, who went into Hufflepuff, and a gruff-looking boy, ‘Wilkes, Hadrian’, who unsurprisingly was put into Slytherin.
After the Slytherin table stopped clapping Hadrian Wilkes, Dumbledore stood up, and silence descended upon the hall. Remus thought he was about to deliver a speech, but if he was honest, he was not in the mood for speeches, as his insides were aching with hunger; the sandwiches he had eaten seemed like a lifetime ago. All he wanted now was for dinner to start.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and spread his arms out wide, beaming at them all. “I know you’re all very hungry, so I will be brief,” Remus saw James and Sirius exchanged pained glances, clearly they weren’t in the mood for speeches either. “Tuck in!”
Dumbledore’s words were met with smiles all around from the whole hall. Then suddenly all the golden plates were covered in food. The aroma was so enticing that Remus just closed his eyes and breathed it in deeply for a few moments. It was the nicest smell in the world, better than freshly cut grass. He then helped himself to some Sheppard’s Pie and vegetables and began to eat. For a while no one really said anything, as the food was preoccupying them all. There was just the clink of cutlery and the occasional comment on a specific dish. It was only when people were on second helpings that chatter began to break out.
“My parents are going to kill me,” Sirius said a little miserably, as he mashed his potato with the back of his fork. He looked like a person admitting something against his will.
“Why?” Remus asked, wondering what Sirius could have done to get into trouble when they had only been in school two hours.
“I’m not in Slytherin.”
“Your parents actually want you in Slytherin?” Remus said, aghast. “In with all the dark wizards and witches?”
“Yeah, they do actually,” Sirius said, not looking at anyone. “I’m a Black see.”
“A Black?” Remus repeated.
“You know one of the old pure-blood families,” James injected.
“But pure-blood, half-blood, Muggle-born - it’s all the same thing, it doesn’t make any difference,” Remus said, a little puzzled that they didn’t seem to know this. His parents had always thought him that there were only witches and wizards, and that your background didn’t matter, be you a Muggle-born, or in Remus’s case, a werewolf.
“My family are pure-blood fanatics though,” Sirius said, mashing his carrots now. “They think being a Black makes you practically royal. You have to uphold the dignity of the Noble House of Black at all times. Everyone in my family have been in Slytherin, and here I am in Gryffindor. They’re going to kill me.”
“They’re not going to kill you,” Remus said trying to sound reassuring. He couldn’t envision any parent torturing a child over a matter like this.
“You don’t know my mother,” Sirius said gloomily. “I’ve let the whole house down, wait ‘til you see. There’s a Howler coming my way.”
“A Howler?” Remus repeated.
“You know the letter that screams at you,” James said, raising both eye-brows.
“Oh right, yeah,” Remus replied, still not knowing what a Howler was, but deciding not to voice his ignorance further.
“Have you really not heard of the Blacks?” James asked, giving Remus a funny look.
“No,” he admitted.
“And you’re a half-blood?”
“Parents are a witch and wizard?”
“Have you been living under a cauldron or something all your life?” James asked, laughing slightly at the thought.
Remus didn’t know what to say. James was right. He had effectively been living under a cauldron all his life. He had spent his whole childhood in a bubble, and now he was out of it he was ill-equipped to deal with the big bad world. He didn’t know there was pure-blood mania out there in certain families. He had always been thought that every life was equal, be it Muggle or wizard, pure-blood or half-blood, it didn’t make any difference. Clearly Sirius’s mother thought differently.
Once dinner was finished, the food was magically replaced by puddings. Remus tried the treacle tart, but it was not nearly as nice as his mum’s was. James and Lily were having an intense discussion on the merits of football versus the merits of Quidditch. Lily kept trying to end the conversation, but James stubbornly continued it. Lily didn’t seem to like James much. Remus thought she was fighting a losing battle, because football just sounded boring, but he decided against voicing this thought as both James and Lily looked so angry they could hit someone.
“So do you have any brothers or sisters?” Remus asked Peter, who had been quiet all through dinner.
“No, it’s just me and my mum,” he said, in a mousy voice.
“Oh...” said Remus, starting to panic. He didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Peter replied, shrugging. “My dad left when I was three. He was a Muggle and didn’t like magic much. I don’t even remember him so it’s alright.”
Remus had no reply to this, so instead he turned to Sirius, trying to keep the conversation on happy ground, “So what about you, any brothers or sisters?”
“Yeah, I’ve a younger brother, Regulus, he’s only ten, and the most annoying little bugger on the planet,” Sirius replied. Remus couldn’t tell if he was joking or not.
“I always wanted a little brother,” Remus brooded. It was true. His childhood would have been far less lonely if he had a little brother to play with.
“I take it you’re an only child then?” Sirius said. Remus nodded. Sirius then jerked his head in James’s direction. “You’re like this tosser so.”
“Oi!” said James affronted, as he tore himself from the football conversation. “Who are you calling a tosser?”
“You,” Sirius said coolly.
Remus couldn’t really explain how it happened. But James suddenly stuck his fingers into the bowl of cream and smudged some all over Sirius’s face. In retaliation, Sirius grabbed a spoonful of cream and tried to get James back. The two of them were wrestling and laughing, trying to smear each other’s faces. Lily stared on disapprovingly; and Peter was laughing. Remus didn’t know exactly why he did it; maybe it was because Sirius and James were having so much fun; or maybe it was because this was something Remus wouldn’t normally do, but a second later, he found himself dipping his spoon into the jam and flicking it at Sirius. The red, lumpy liquid splattered against the side of his face. Both James and Sirius stopped and stared.
“Oh, you’re going to pay for that one, Lupin!” Sirius said, seizing the treacle and pulling it towards himself.
But Sirius wasn’t able to do anything more than that because, at that precise second, Professor McGonagall descended upon them, her face stiff and angry. “If you don’t want Gryffindor to begin the year in negative points, I suggest you put down that bowl, Mr Black,” she said icily.
“I wasn’t going to do anything with it, Professor, honest,” said Sirius, trying to sound innocent. “I just wanted to put some treacle on my ice-cream, that’s all.”
Professor McGonagall’s eyes widened. Sirius cowered slightly. “Yes, Professor,” he said defeated, as he put the treacle back on the table.
“And clean yourselves up. You’re Gryffindors, not food-throwing baboons!” Professor McGonagall added as she surveyed their cream-coated faces.
Still grinning, Sirius and James grabbed some serviettes and started to clean the ruminants of dessert off their faces, as Professor McGonagall returned to her seat. A few moments later, all the food disappeared, leaving the plates and goblets sparkling clean, like they were when everyone entered the hall.
Dumbledore stood up again, and the post-dinner chatter evaporated. “I know your beds are calling to you, but I just have a few announcements to make, so please bear with me for a few more moments. Firstly, I want to welcome you all, new students and old, and I would ask you all now in turn to welcome the newest addition to our staff, Professor Owen Newlyn, who has kindly consented to fill the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.”
There was a round of applause as a very young and rather nervous looking man stood up and waved awkwardly. “Merlin, he looks young!” James exclaimed, with a slightly mischievous grin on his face. “Can’t be much older than the seventh years, can he?” Remus, Sirius and Peter all shrugged. James was right though, this new teacher was barely older than the NEWT students.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and the whispering and clapping ceased. “I would also like to announce that Quidditch trails will be held in the third week of term,” James let out a huge whoop of delight at this comment, “and if you think you possess the skill and determination to play for your house,” Dumbledore continued, “I ask you to give your name to your Head of House, who will in turn pass it to the various captains.”
“I’m going for it!” James said confidently. “I was born to be a Chaser.”
No one paid him much attention though, as they were still listening to Dumbledore. “I want to inform new students, and remind older ones as well, that you are forbidden to enter the dark forest, and that no magic is permitted in school corridors, and that this year, I wish to bring your attention to a new tree which has been planted in the grounds, the Whomping Willow I believe is its name, and I advise you all not to approach this tree under any circumstances, that is unless you want to be walloped into next week!”
A few people laughed, but they were mostly first-years. The older students only had curious expressions.
“He – he can’t be serious, can he?” asked Peter, nonplussed.
“Dunno,” said Sirius, shrugging.
Remus didn’t know either. A tree that could wallop you into next week? That was the most random and odd thing he had heard all day, but judging by the reaction of the hall, Dumbledore was not joking. Then Remus remembered what Dumbledore had told him back home: I always make a point of saying exactly what I mean, things get a bit too muddled otherwise.
“That doesn’t matter,” James injected, pulling Remus from his thoughts, “I just want to know if you reckon they’ll let first-years on the Quidditch team?”
“Fat chance,” said Sirius.
“You haven’t seen me fly, mate!” James said, winking.
Suddenly, the hall erupted into conversation as students stood up. Dumbledore must have finished his speech. The prefect who had explained the hat-stall to them stood up, “Alright, first-year Gryffindors, follow me now, I’ll show you to the common room.”
“I’ll meet you in the entrance hall,” Lily said to Remus, as she left the table, “just want to say goodnight to Sev.”
“Okay,” Remus replied, standing up to follow James, Sirius and Peter out of the hall.
However, before they reached the large oak door, the Slytherin girl who had stood up in outrage when Sirius had been sorted came out of nowhere and grabbed Sirius by the arm. “What do you think you are playing at, you little brat? Wait ‘til I tell your mother. You’ve let the whole family down!” she said viciously, glaring at Sirius as if he was a piece of muck on her shoe.
“I don’t care!” Sirius said bravely. “Tell her – I don’t care! I’m not like you nutters! I’ve told you that before! I don’t care about being a Black! I don’t care about being a pure-blood!”
The girl looked about ready to hit Sirius, and for a second Remus feared she was going to, but she managed, with a great deal of effort, to suppress that urge. Instead she released him, gave him a look of deepest loathing and left.
“What the hell was that about?” asked James, utterly shocked, staring after the Slytherin girl as if she had just grown an extra head or something.
“That, gents, was my charming cousin, Narcissa Black,” Sirius explained very sarcastically, glaring after his cousin with hatred in his eyes. “Didn’t I tell you, my family are mental – pure-blood maniacs, the lot of them!”
Remus stared after Narcissa in disbelief. He couldn’t understand how one family member could treat another like that. She had grabbed Sirius. She had called him a brat. She had threatened him. Remus had never seen anyone act like that before, and he didn’t like it. Then again, Remus had no siblings or cousins himself, so maybe he wasn’t allowed to pass judgement on this. But in all the books he had ever read families stayed together and looked out for each other, like Remus’s parents always did. But maybe the books were telling lies.
When they neared the mass of people filing out of the Great Hall, Remus cast a glance back at the staff table. Dumbledore had said that his Head of House, that is, Professor McGonagall, would explain to him what was going to happen at the full-moon once he arrived, but none of the teachers seemed bothered about that right now. Remus wondered if he should maybe wait and ask, but James, Sirius and Peter were already heading into the entrance hall.
“Oi!” said the Gryffindor prefect, spotting Remus standing alone and lost in thought. “C’mon, you’ll get lost now.”
Remus followed him out of the large double doors. “I’m Frank, by the way,” said the prefect kindly. “Frank Longbottom.”
“Nice to meet you, Remus, and congrats on getting Gryffindor, it really is a good house and sure Hogwarts itself is great place, you’ll have a great time here,” he sounded a bit like Dad had done on Platform 9 ¾.
As soon as they entered the entrance hall, Remus knew something was wrong. Sirius and James seemed to be locked in an argument with Lily and Severus. Peter looked on, helplessly, not knowing what to do.
“What are you doing fraternising with the enemy?” James said angrily.
“Who are you calling the enemy?” Severus said viciously. “You Gryffindor toe-rag!”
Then James and Sirius launched themselves at Severus, but before they could touch him, Frank had pointed his wand and cast some sort of invisible shield between the two sides.
“That’s enough of that now,” Frank said sternly. “Don’t make me give you lot detention.”
James and Sirius glared at Severus, who stared just as intensely back. Then Sirius and James headed up the marble staircase, Peter on their heels. Sirius made a rude hand-gesture to Severus as he turned, and Severus gave one back, unnoticed by the prefects. Lily stood there beside her friend, looking near-tears. Remus made towards her, just to check she was alright.
“Don’t come near me!” Severus shouted at Remus.
“I wasn’t going to do anything to you,” Remus replied. It was true. He just wanted to check Lily was okay.
“Remus, you coming?” shouted Sirius from the top of the stairs.
“You better follow those gits up the stairs, they’ll miss you otherwise!” Lily snapped, her eyes full of tears.
“But I – I don’t think Severus is the enemy,” Remus said honestly. He didn’t know what he had done to deserve such treatment from Lily. He hadn’t taken part in the fight, nor had he said anything nasty to Severus.
“Just go!” Severus roared, his face livid.
Remus didn’t need telling twice. He left and headed up the stairs after the others. He would talk to both Lily and Severus tomorrow, when everyone had cooled down a bit. He didn’t think Severus was the enemy, Severus was just a bit mean and he was in Slytherin, but that didn’t necessarily mean he was a dark wizard.
“What kept you?” James asked, when Remus caught up to them.
“I was just talking to Lily,” Remus replied.
“Can you believe her?” James said incredulous. “Talking to a Slytherin, actually being friends with a Slytherin, she’ll get into trouble if she keeps at that, and I don’t mean the good kind of trouble, I mean the bad-kind, the bad-kind that gets you killed.”
“That’s a bit extreme,” said Remus.
“You say that, but you’d be surprised. There’s a war brewing, that’s what my dad said, you can never be too careful around Slytherins.”
“A war?” Remus asked, feeling slightly scared and not knowing why. He had never heard of any war happening.
“Yeah, can’t you sense it, all those disappearances and werewolves running around biting kids,” James explained in a hushed voice. At the mention of werewolves Remus instantly grew hot and looked at his shoes. “There’s a war coming, that’s what my dad said, and he was an Auror,” James continued, “so he knows what he’s talking about.”
Remus had never heard of any war. His parents had told him none of this. He didn’t know there were any werewolf attacks or disappearances. Was what James had said true?
“But – but the war mightn’t break out at all,” Peter added. “That’s what my mum said.”
“True,” James said fairly, “but we still have to be careful, and that means fraternising with Slytherins is a definite no.”
Remus’s head was spinning, absolutely spinning. Was there really a war coming? Was James right and they were all in trouble? Why hadn’t his parents warned him about any of this? Were they trying to protect him? Were they afraid of scaring him?
But Remus was torn from his contemplations by a shout from below. He turned around, trying to locate its source. Then his blood went cold. Paul was in Hogwarts. Paul, his once best mate turned traitor. Panic swelled inside Remus. He didn’t want Paul to see him, he didn’t want Paul to tell James, Sirius and Peter what he was. He quickly and silently detached himself from a crowd and hid behind a large statue of an old warlock. His heart was thundering. Paul was supposed to be going to Beauxbatons, not Hogwarts. He wasn’t supposed to be here. As Paul drew nearer Remus started to tremble. But the more Remus looked at Paul, the more he came to realise that this boy was not Paul at all. He was older, much older, around fifteen, and his face was different, more rugged looking. This boy wasn’t Paul. Relief spread through him. He lent back against the wall and exhaled deeply. Then he started to laugh at his own stupidity. There was no way Paul was here. No one would recognise him as the scary werewolf boy. He was going to be alright.
He stepped out from behind the statue, and was instantly flooded with fresh panic. He could no longer see Frank the prefect, or James, Sirius, Peter or Lily. He didn’t recognise anyone and the corridor was slowly emptying. He ran through an archway only to find that everyone had gone, just gone as if they had Disapparated on the spot. Remus’s heart was reviving its frantic beats. He had no idea where he was and no idea where he was supposed to be going either.
He wandered up and down corridors, desperately searching for someone to ask directions from, but everywhere was empty. He couldn’t understand how everyone had disappeared so quickly. He couldn’t even hear the sound of voices or footsteps. What was he going to do? How was he going to find the common room?
But as he turned a corner, he was thrown a glorious life-line, as up ahead of him he saw one of the ghosts floating around a candelabra. He was saved. “Excuse me?” he called a little breathlessly. “Excuse me, sorry, but – but could you tell me where the Gryffindor common room is?”
The ghost cart-wheeled in the air and looked at Remus. He had never seen a ghost like this one before. He had a large-bow tie, and a hat with bells on it. And even though he was a ghost, some vestiges of the colour of his clothes remained. He didn’t look as transparent as the ghosts in the anti-chamber had done.
“Ooooooooo....” the ghost said, with a mad grin. “Lost ickle firsty all by his lonesome!”
Remus instantly knew he had made a mistake interacting with this ghost, and he wasn’t wrong. No sooner had the spirit spoken, than he began pelting Remus with chalk. Remus didn’t even know where he got the chalk, he seemed to pull it out of the air.
“Stop!” Remus shouted, shielding his face with his arms. The ghost just cackled insanely. Remus decided it was time to run. He sprinted from the ghost, but he couldn’t get away, the spectre chased him, still throwing chalk. Soon Remus’s robes were covered in white dust. It was everywhere, in his eyes, in his hair, it even went into his lungs when he drew breath.
Remus just kept on running, not knowing what else to do, then before he could even work out what had happened, he was smashing face first into the ground. The ghost laughed again. “Aw, did the ickle firsty fall over?”
The ghost had somehow pulled the carpet out from under Remus’s feet. That didn’t even make any sense, ghosts weren’t supposed to be able to touch things. Remus scrambled to his feet, trying to run, but the tapestry on the wall had come to life, wrapping itself around him. He struggled to break free, but couldn’t and still the ghost cackled and whistled with glee. Remus was finding it hard to breathe, the tapestry was covered in dust and it prevented air from reaching his mouth. He fought and he struggled, until finally the tapestry when limp and he fell forward onto the floor again. Then a waste-paper basket hit his head. It hurt a lot, and Remus could feel a bump where the bin made contact.
The ghost cackled again, then zoomed off still laughing. Remus scrambled to his feet and leapt through the nearest door. He needed a place to hide, in case the ghost came back. He shut the door and dived under the first desk he laid eyes on, trying to catch his breath and think of something to do. Wandering around the corridors was definitely not safe. He sat under the desk for a long while, until he was sure the ghost was gone. He would have spend the night here, and wait until morning when there would be people walking around the castle, who could direct him to the common room, or at least to the Great Hall. He had just come to this conclusion, when he stood up and emerged from his hiding place. In his panicked state he hadn’t noticed what room he had run into. It was absolutely huge, you could have fit about a hundred of Remus’s houses inside it. The place looked like a library with large towering shelves, only they didn’t hold books, but literally anything and everything. There were mountains of broken furniture, odd instruments, large cabinets, stained books, flying catapults, rusted swords and old broomsticks. Then Remus laid eyes on a troll that was leering down at him. He jumped out of his skin, but then realised that the troll was only a stuffed one. He walked up to it and examined it, poking it with his foot just to be sure. It was then that the glint of silver caught his eye.
There was a large something covered in a sheet, Remus guessed it was portrait. He went over and pulled the sheet off. It wasn’t a portrait, it was a magnificent mirror. It was large and ostentatious with its ornate golden frame and smooth silver surface. It towered over everything else, claiming for itself a place of grandeur next to all the broken, dull and dusty furniture surrounding it. There was something about this mirror that held his attention; letters were etched into its frame. They made words, but he couldn’t make them out. He stepped closer, desiring a better look.
He let out a yelp of surprise.
He did not, as he had expected, see his own reflection in the mirror, instead he saw a group people. He cast glances over both his shoulders, then did a full sweep of the room. He was definitely alone. His gaze returned to the mirror. He didn’t understand...
There in front of him was James, Sirius, Peter, Lily and Severus. They were all standing shoulder to shoulder, arms around each other. Friends. And there was Remus, right in the centre of it all, included, loved, happy. He looked left and right. The room was deserted.
“Lily?” he called into the dark classroom. “James? Sirius?”
There was no reply. He returned to the mirror; the image was unchanged. Remus stood stock-still, feasting on the picture of himself surrounded by friends. It was all he had ever wanted, all he had ever wanted all his life. Remus didn’t know if this mirror functioned like a crystal ball, he did not know if it revealed the future. All he knew was that this mirror was showing him the thing he wanted more than anything else in the world. Remus pressed his hand against the glass, hoping he could fall through the mirror and live with his reflected self in the friendly world beyond.
“Cannot sleep, Remus, or have you gotten lost?”
Remus jumped and spun around so quickly he nearly toppled over. His eyes widened and he felt the colour in his face drain away. He retreated back against the mirror, horror-struck to be caught out of bed by none other than Albus Dumbledore.
“I – I got lost, sir,” he explained, staring down at his shoes.
“I can see that,” Dumbledore said kindly, his eyes landing on the chalk and dust stains on Remus’s robes. “A traumatic experience for anyone, getting lost in this castle.”
Relief spread through Remus. He was not in trouble, and, what was more, he would now be able to find his way to the common room with Dumbledore’s help. But he had a more pressing question on his mind than where Gryffindor tower was.
“Professor?” he began tentatively. “Where are we?”
“I am not sure,” Dumbledore replied, smiling. Remus frowned, he thought Dumbledore of all people would know everything about Hogwarts. “This room comes and goes,” the headmaster continued. “Sometimes it is here, and sometimes it is not. One can never find it when one looks for it, but you’ll always find that it appears when you are in need of it nonetheless.
“Right, sir,” Remus replied, not having understood a word of the explanation. “And this mirror...?”
Dumbledore smiled more warmly at him. “Ah, now that’s a question I can answer. It is the Mirror of Erised, and believe me, you are not the first to stumble across it nor you will not be the last either.”
“Where did it come from, sir?”
“I cannot say. It’s been in the school for a very long time, longer than I’ve been here, would you believe. Many teachers collect rare objects on their travels and bring them back to the school to show their colleagues. I remember when I first started teaching and Professor Merrythought, who used to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, returned from her holidays with the most charming music-box, which played the most beautiful tune imaginable, though it was very different to all who heard it, for no two people heard the same melody.”
There was a slight pause, where Remus stared at Dumbledore not knowing what to say. “Actually, that music box is probably in here somewhere, now I think on it,” Dumbledore mused cheerfully, as he gazed around the room.
Remus looked from the headmaster to the mirror and back again. He wanted to know what the mirror was and how it worked. “But this mirror, it’s not a normal mirror, is it, Professor?”
“Indeed it is not.”
“When I look into it,” Remus pressed on, looking back into the depths of the glass one more time, “I see myself, surrounded by a group of people. They are all kids my own age. They’re all my friends.”
Dumbledore surveyed him with pitying eyes. Remus really hoped the headmaster would not go all teary-eyed again. “I had a feeling you might.”
“Professor,” Remus continued, desperate for the answer. “Professor, does this mirror show the future?”
Dumbledore reluctantly shook his head. “No, Remus. This mirror shows nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desires of our hearts. It gives us neither knowledge nor truth. *1 It is not a window into the mysteries of what has not yet come to pass.”
Remus cast another glance back at the mirror, and reached out to touch the glass again, wishing that what Dumbledore had said was untrue. “So it’s not real then?” he asked, the sadness and disappointment unmistakable in his voice.
“I am sorry, Remus, but it is not. It is merely a projection of your desires, of your heart.”
Remus turned away from the mirror, having no more desire to look upon the thing he wanted most.
“But that does not mean to say that this desire of yours is not obtainable,” Dumbledore said quietly, trying to reassure him.
“How?” Remus asked, not trying to hide his exasperation. He had tried making friends and thought he was doing alright too, but then Lily and Severus had both shouted at him in the entrance hall after dinner. It sounded like they, like every other friend he had tried to make in his life, didn’t want anything to do with him anymore.
“You have just started school, Remus; you will meet so many different witches and wizards. You will make great bonds of friendship here, everyone does. It all adds to the excitement of starting Hogwarts. And you seemed to me today to be getting on swimmingly with Misters Potter, Black and Pettigrew, as well as Miss Evans.”
“But one wants to be friends with a werewolf,” Remus replied, the callousness in his voice clear when he uttered that awful truth.
“But there are many who want to be friends with a clever, loyal and bright boy like yourself. The werewolf is only a small part of who you are, Remus. You have so many other admirable qualities.”
Remus made to cast a glance back at the mirror, but then changed his mind and turned away. He pondered his headmaster’s words. Dumbledore was right. That old man at the Quidditch match gave him Plumpton’s badge because he liked Remus, just for being Remus. James, Sirius, Peter and Lily all did seem to like him a bit, just for being himself, and he even thought that Severus did like him too, a little. The only problem was his tendency to say the wrong thing, but he would just have to learn to think before he spoke. Then there was, of course, the barrier created by his condition, but he would just have to do all he could to keep it hidden. As long as they didn’t know what he was, Remus was confident that if he tried hard, he could make friends.
“You make your own future, Remus,” Dumbledore continued. “It is not set in stone, or hidden in some crystal ball or reflected in this magnificent mirror.”
“Yes, Professor,” Remus replied, a fierce sense of determination rising inside him. “Because, like you said, what’s really point in just dreaming about something but doing nothing to get it? I have to get out there and make it so as what I see in the mirror becomes real.”
Dumbledore beamed at him this time. “You are a very clever boy, Remus. It would have taken a much wiser man, years of pondering and reflection before he could reach that conclusion.”
“But what I said wasn’t wisdom, it was just common sense, sir,” Remus pointed out.
“Ah, you sometimes find that wisdom and common sense can be one in the same.” Remus furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. Dumbledore laughed. “Now,” the headmaster said, bringing the conversation to a close. “I think it would be best if you went to bed.”
“Yes, sir,” Remus replied, turning to leave. However, he stopped with his hand on the door handle.
“Yes, Remus?” said Dumbledore obligingly.
“Professor, I have no idea where my dormitory is!”
Dumbledore chuckled. “Follow me,” he said brightly, walking through the open door. Remus followed, grateful that he no longer had to spend the night in that room of hidden things.
Dumbledore brought Remus up corridors, and twice through passageways hidden behind tapestries. There were suits of armour and gargoyles lining the hallways that Remus hadn’t noticed in his panicked state when he was wandering around. The portraits on the walls moved too, like photographs; however, unlike photographs, they could actually talk. Several greeted Dumbledore as they passed, and the headmaster responded kindly to each.
Dumbledore gave Remus some of the history of the school, he even said there were secrets in this castle that even he, Dumbledore, didn’t know. Remus was amazed. There were secret passageways, Dumbledore said, and sometimes solid wall liked to pretend to be doors or windows, just for a laugh, as if the walls had a sense of humour. He told Remus stories too, about how he and his best-mate Elphias Doge, used to spend their weekends conducting experiments in some of the disused classrooms, narrowing avoiding the caretaker on many occasions. These stories made Remus laugh.
Then a thought occurred to him, a thought that once it entered his head had to be voiced. “Professor?”
Remus glanced around, making sure they were alone. “What’s going to happen at the full-moon?”
“Ah,” Dumbledore said, his face becoming a little sombre. “Well, we – that is, Professor McGonagall, Madam Pomfrey and I – had planned on discussing that with you tomorrow, if you have no objections to waiting until then?”
“Oh, alright, I can wait, no problem, sir,” Remus said. He wasn’t particularly looking forward to that meeting if he was honest.
Dumbledore stopped walking in front of a large portrait of a rather fat lady in a pink dress. “This is the entrance to Gryffindor tower,” he explained, pointing to the portrait. Remus couldn’t believe how quick the journey had seemed. “You must say a password to enter however, and this week is porcupine quill, I believe.”
“Right you are, Headmaster,” the Fat Lady said, swinging open and revealing a narrow staircase.
“Goodnight, Professor,” said Remus, stepping forward, “and thank you for taking me to the tower.”
“It was my pleasure, Remus,” Dumbledore replied, his eyes twinkling. “Sleep well.”
“You too, sir,” Remus said as he disappeared through the portrait hole.
“Boy’s dormitories are up the stairs on the right!” the headmaster added as Remus disappeared from view. “And yours should be marked ‘first-years’!”
“Thanks, Professor,” Remus called back, as he heard the Fat-Lady’s portrait swing closed behind him.
The common room was dark and deserted. It was full of red and gold tapestries, and mis-matched armchairs littered the floor in little groups around tables and desks. A large fireplace drew all attention, the glowing embers in its grate being the only source of light. Remus made for the stairs and found his dormitory easily enough. He could hear voices talking as he opened the door.
“Where have you been, mate?” James asked. “One minute you were behind us, then you were gone.”
“Got lost,” Remus replied, as he looked around the circular room. There were four four-poster beds with red hangings; one for each student.
“Why are you covered in chalk?” Sirius asked, laughing. Remus explained about the ghost and Dumbledore finding him, but he decided to keep the encounter with the mirror to himself.
“I’ve heard about him,” James said knowledgably. “That’s Peeves, and he’s a poltergeist. But don’t worry, we’ll get him back for you.”
“Get him back for me?” Remus repeated. He wasn’t sure what James meant.
“Yeah,” James said, as though it were obvious, “us Gryffindors got to watch each other’s backs, right?”
“Right,” Remus repeated, though he wasn’t sure why.
“So we’ll help you get one back on Peeves then!” James said brightly. Sirius and Peter nodded in response. “We’ll have to plan it well though, he’s a tricky customer from what I’ve heard.”
Remus smiled. The three of them wanted to get Peeves back for attacking Remus, and if that didn’t spell friendship, Remus didn’t know what did. With this happy thought in his head, he spotted his trunk at the foot of the bed in the centre. Gawain’s cage was perched on top of it and it was empty.
“Where’s my owl?” Remus asked, beginning to feel alarmed, as his eyes looked all around the room for the little bird.
“Owlery probably,” James said, shrugging.
“Where’s the Owlery?”
“No idea,” James replied. “But you can’t go there now, the time for night-time wanderings is not yet at hand, we need a map before we can start that.”
“I promised I’d send a letter home, telling my parents what house I’m in,” Remus said, ignoring James’s last comment.
“Do it in the morning,” Sirius said. “We’ll help you find the Owlery then.”
Suddenly, there was a tapping noise on one of the windows, and Remus turned and there was Gawain. Remus almost laughed as he opened the window to let the owl in. Gawain hopped inside and flew around the room, madly excited to be in a new place.
“That’s a very clever owl you’ve got,” Peter said in amazement. “He knew you wanted him and he came – that’s amazing!”
“He’s an annoying little bugger if you ask me,” Sirius said, contemplating the bird.
Remus grinned as he withdrew parchment and quill from his trunk and began scribbling a note to his parents. But he was only half-way through the second sentence when a pillow came crashing down on top of his head.
“That’s for the jam!” Sirius said smirking.
Abandoning his letter, Remus grabbed the pillow off his bed and chased after Sirius, trying to hit him back. James laughed and entered the fray. Peter merely watched, not knowing what to do, so Remus hit him with the pillow, just to get him to play too. They were laughing and laughing as they chased each other around the dormitory, jumping from bed to bed. Remus had never had so much fun in all his life.
But the fun was short lived as the dormitory door swung opened, revealing Frank the prefect. He was in his dressing gown and looked bleary eyed and annoyed. “Ah, lads,” he said sleepily. “You’ll have to quieten down now and go to bed, we all have classes in the morning.”
They all stopped where they stood. “Sorry...” the four of them said in unison.
“Cheers,” Frank yawned, as he closed the door, returning to his own bed.
The four of them looked at each other and grinned broadly as Gawain flew around excitedly overhead. And at that moment Remus thought that maybe, just maybe, that mirror did show the future after all.
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