Chapter 1 : The Mirror Man
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Don't stray, they said. Don't let your thoughts go too far. Learn from your mistakes - don't be too hard on yourself. Just do your job during office hours, then become a whole new person when you walk the streets rather than the battlefield. It's just easier that way, they said.
Alastor didn't like easy.
He looked up and saw the sorry state of his brow glaring back down at him. He twisted a bit to the side and found the chips on his shoulder digging into his heart. What was left of his heart, anyway. He had never been much for feelings, truth be told.
It hadn't always been this way. Back when he believed in lands far far away and once upon a times, not a narcissistic thought pulsed through his veins. It was an exhilarating life. A better life. A life on the run.
"Thompson, Sir, there's nothing you can do - no way out!"
"We've been over this Moody. Don't call me sir and don't tell me I'm useless!"
The humming in the dirt beneath the men reminded them of their circumstances. The younger gripped his wand while his mentor simply felt along the walls keeping them from freedom. Alastor might not be able to say the efforts were in vain, but he sure as hell could think it. He ran his calloused fingers through the choppy remains of his hair - Moroccan curses hadn't been kind to his tangle of what had seemed like a fashionable haircut.
He couldn't admit it in a grave time like this, but his whole being was lit up with exhilaration. The thrill of the chase, that sort of thing, but with a little something extra. He could well die here, but then again, he had to fill Thompson's shoes. The greatest auror to date was training a shrimp fresh from Hogwarts! This wasn't the life the boy was used to, so maybe the wall held something.
No, walls don't hide things. Think, Moody, think! Dirt floor, dirty brick walls, ceiling that stayed put about as well as a five.. year... old.... CEILING! It wasn't a normal set of motions - a soft wind blew through cracks in the bricks, but it couldn't possibly be moving the thick planks of scrap wood. Their enemy might have been brilliant, but Thompson could make a better prison. The man was brilliant, yes. But useful when it came to skills the rest of the world used? Absolutely not.
Of course, they didn't exactly have long to get out of their accommodations. With every passing second spent staring at the planks over their heads, armies worth of skeletons fell out of place in the recently uncovered catacombs to fight with the Cordim Resistance. Ancient wizarding societies sure were getting old. Not that domestic wizards were of any interest, so at least he would die with a bit of honor.
He still couldn't peg what was so peculiar about that ceiling. Thompson wasn't going to be of any assistance. At this point, the man almsot tried to do useless tasks so Alastor ended up doing all the work. At least it kept his mind busy.
It was all quite peculiar... no one in the regime was really alive, but this world had been constructed by the Resistance in contrast to the advances of the Tower Keys a few years ago. He had read about this back in school, but had pushed the stories from his mind to fill the space with useful trivia. The Tower Keys were animated whispers that won their battles by toying with the minds of their enemies. When the Resistance had discovered two unauthorized visitors earlier that day, they had simply put the aurors in their available prison space.
Thompson had warned Moody that no one could win a battle against the Resistance, so they had followed to their prison until new plans could be made. The usual conceited villain speech followed, and their dear Cordim friends had left to raise an army with no minds for Keys to infiltrate. They had work - Tower Key secrets had secrets. Secrets that could raise the dead and decimate the shadows the Keys thrived in.
But if no one was really alive in this war, the greatest enemy of the prisoners would be themselves, as they would then destroy their own whispers and secrets. And mirrors, Moody noted as he decided it would be safe enough to simply open up the roof, couldn't possibly do them real harm. With a heavy shove up from the heels of his hands, the planks splintered to reveal nothing but a mirror. A mirror that blinded an eye.
Moody gave another look at the shards of glass that surrounded him. He had learned much from Thompson when in the last leg of his training, but the greatest auror to walk to earth learned his greatest lesson himself, although it was more harsh than fulfilling. He was his own greatest enemy. He would blind himself, strangle himself, and suck all the life out of his pursuits. The dangers of the real world couldn't lay a finger on this man. Not compared to the hell he could unleash on himself.
He led such a sad life now. Such a lacking life. No thought. No exhilaration. He had filled shoes. Hell, he had owned the shoes of his department. Always a little too big and a little too desperate for whoever might follow.
They always said to learn from your mistakes. So he did. It was a funny house he sat in now. All the little children who dared each other to come near called him the Mirror Man. The Man Who Only Saw Himself. The Man Who Saw Everything.
He missed nothing - not even a whisper. The whole of his house dripped with reflections of a shadow of a man. He could look into their infinite pictures for all of time and still never see a real man.
He had not twisted because his body was scarred and shredded with every mission. He had not withered because he was an aging man of natural causes. He was the oldest man he knew. He always had been. Even at barely seventeen, he was the man closest to deterioration. And that is what ages a man. The eternal proximity to the end. The inability to let a single whisper or a hint of a shadow pass unnoticed.
And so he sat in his world where only he existed, for that is the fate of a Mirror Man. Great, but trapped in his Constant Vigilance.
A/N: For starryskies55' "Write or Die" Challenge.