Mad with Desire (Part 1 of 2)
He was back again.
He couldn’t stay away.
Crossing his legs, he sat down and rested his elbows on his knees.
Show me, he thought.
It showed him.
The image held within the glassy surface of the Mirror of Erised swam and changed, and once again he was plunged into the realm of fantasy. His eyes glazed over and a vacant smile crept slowly across his face. This was what he needed. This was what he had slipped out of Divination class for. It wasn’t hard; as pleasant as Professor Trelawney was, she got so wrapped up in her dreamy performances that any Hogwarts student with the right mind could easily leave her classes and never be noticed, by her, at least. It also helped that Professor Trelawney had been dead for nearly a century and communicated to her students from the spirit world via one of her chintzy tea pots.
It hadn’t started with him sneaking out of class to sit longingly in front of the Mirror. He had come to Hogwarts with every intention of being the model student. His parents had been so proud when his letter had arrived, shortly before his 11th birthday. His father had been Head Boy in his time, and his mother had been a Prefect, so being a high achiever ran in his blood. He had arrived at Hogwarts, fresh-faced and eager to learn, eager to impress, and that’s what he had done. He had excelled in all of his classes, and he had been frequently compared to the legendary Hermione Granger when it came to his application and intellect. He didn’t take this compliment lightly: he passed Hermione Granger every morning on his way to breakfast in the Great Hall; or at least he passed her likeness. A statue commemorating the Battle for Hogwarts had, according to the latest edition of Hogwarts: A History, been erected in the entrance hall of the castle some time before his parents had even received their letters. Hermione Granger, along with Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, smiled out benevolently at all Hogwarts students everyday from the majestic plinth that also bore every name of every witch, wizard and magical creature who fought, and in some cases died, to save Hogwarts from the evil Lord Voldemort. That had been a hundred years ago. The school had recently celebrated the centennial; he heard that it was a fine affair. He did plan to go, but while dressing for the occasion the call of the Mirror came to him again, and another evening was lost to its lure.
He shifted his position slightly but his gaze didn’t falter from the shimmering dream world of the Mirror. Once he was settled in front of its prophetic depths it would take a second Battle for Hogwarts to rouse him from his musings. He knew that he should stop and that things had reached an unhealthy level, but try as he might he could not bring himself to completely give it up. Even when he was able to reluctantly pull his body away from the Mirror for the basic needs of food, sleep and washing, his mind remained in that room in front of its smooth and ominous surface. It was getting so that it was all he thought about, and that was beginning to show in his studies.
Had he been presented upon arrival at Hogwarts with the information that something would come into his life that would almost totally take his focus off of his school work he would have laughed hard and long. He genuinely enjoyed his lessons and he relished in the opportunity to prove himself and to make his parents proud. In his first and second years that’s what he did. Glowing reports from teachers, convivial praise from his friends; he was everything that he wanted and needed to be.
Then he had heard a rumour about the fabled Mirror of Erised.
It started out innocently enough: whispered conversations in the common room, talk of its magical properties over breakfast. It seemed that the Mirror surfaced and resurfaced in the history of Hogwarts every so often, but it hadn’t enjoyed anywhere near as much attention as it did when its story became briefly entwined with the lore of Harry Potter. A mere footnote in the life story of the legendary Boy Who Lived, it was enough to pique people’s interests that the Mirror became a subject of conversation again for a brief time.
And no one else’s interest was more piqued than his.
He first caught wind of the Mirror by overhearing a less than hushed conversation in the library one afternoon in his third year. As was the case with anything that caught his attention, he quickly sought out reference of the Mirror within the library’s shelves and began to read. The more he read the more he wanted to know. Ambition was something that seemed to come naturally in his family, and a mirror that would show a person’s deepest desires was something that he very much wanted to see. Excitement then disappointment struck him in equal measure when he found mention of the Mirror residing within Hogwarts castle but that it was apparently hidden by a former headmaster, the late, great Albus Dumbledore. That had been an interesting afternoon’s reading on two counts: firstly, it told him where the inspiration for the fifth house of Hogwarts, Dumbledore, had come from, and it steeled in him a resolution to find the Mirror of Erised, if he could.
At first the interest was mostly casual. He wanted to know more about the Mirror, but he didn’t let his research into it get in the way of his school work. Whenever he was in the library he would check a book or two for mention of the Mirror, hoping that something, anything, would lead him to finding its hiding place within Hogwarts. Unfortunately, all that seemed to have been written down was that Dumbledore had decreed it be removed from the castle, so for a time the search was at an end.
He continued to stare deeply into the Mirror as he thought absentmindedly of how he had very nearly not found this strange companion. There were no windows in this room, so he had no way of knowing what time of day it was. He would no doubt be in trouble for missing classes again, but he had stopped caring about such paltry matters long ago. These days, anything that stood in the way of him and the Mirror was an annoyance that needed sweeping out of the way. No one understood his need, the pulling, grabbing need that came with giving yourself wholly to the Mirror. No one would, either. It was his Mirror now. He wouldn’t let them take it from him.
Having been such a good student he didn’t believe in things like Fate and Destiny. He felt that these were puffy, nonsensical words used by people who didn’t have the courage or the fortitude to truly seek what they wanted, what they deserved. He believed in Facts. Facts were Real, and real things got you real places in life. Even after reading in one of the many books that mentioned the Mirror that it had been taken out of the castle he didn’t completely give up hope. He had cross-checked the dates of when Dumbledore was meant to have made this decree and had found that it was around the time that Lord Voldemort was making his return to power. This meant that Dumbledore would have been busy moulding Harry Potter into the weapon that he eventually became, and the more he thought on this the more his interest in the Mirror began to return.
What if Dumbledore forgot to have the Mirror removed?
That thought alone was enough to rekindle the fire of curiosity that had been lit inside of him. He had read enough about Albus Dumbledore by now to know that he was the greatest wizard of his age, but he would have been an old man even before the famous Harry Potter stepped over the Hogwarts threshold. Old men, no matter how great, forget things sometimes.
Or so he hoped.
Spurred on by this thin ray of hope, he had started anew in his search of Hogwarts castle for any trace of the Mirror. He expanded his original search of simply checking books in the library to asking teachers, talking to friends, and even quizzing the school ghosts. Some had no idea what he was talking about, others simply shrugged and said that it was lost, but by now it had grown from simple curiosity to a form of hunger. He felt he needed to find the Mirror, not only to finally see what it could do but also to prove to himself that this task was not beyond him. He started to resent Dumbledore, the man who was seemingly responsible for the Mirror being so well hidden, and after a time he even began to dislike being in his house.
Stupid old man, he thought as he lifted his knees up to his chest and hugged them close to his body. Although he didn’t believe in Fate and Destiny, he had to concede a certain amount of sheer luck for finally locating the Mirror. One morning, as he was making his way down to breakfast, eyes darting as they had started to, looking for any clue as to any information on the Mirror, he had stopped to retie his shoelace. He was in the entrance hall by the statue of the three Warriors of Hogwarts, and, as he tied his shoe, he felt an epiphany strike him like a hammer-blow. As he looked up from his shoe after retying it, he saw a name that instantly clicked a previously discarded piece of information into sharp focus.
Longbottom was apparently one of the Hogwarts students who fought for the castle’s salvation all those years ago. He was a friend of Harry Potter’s, Ron Weasley’s and Hermione Granger’s, and, legend had it, that he had singlehandedly killed Lord Voldemort’s snake with the sword of Gryffindor. He didn’t know how much of that was true, but what he did know was that he had read something about Longbottom in Hogwarts: A History. Amongst Neville Longbottom’s credits in the eventual downfall of Voldemort was, apparently, the locating of something called the Room of Requirement, a special room within Hogwarts that changed its contents and use depending on the need of the person seeking it.
That was it.
The Mirror had to be in there.