Mad with Desire (Part 2 of 2)
He wasn’t sure how he knew, he just knew. He could feel it. He had raced to the library and looked up all he could on the Room of Requirement, certain in his mind that this could be the only place where the Mirror could have remained undetected for so long. It turned out that the Mirror of Erised was not the only thing within Hogwarts to fall into myth and legend. There was no recent mention of the Room of Requirement in any of the books that he looked in, and it seemed to him that many now believed it to be a fiction mixed up with the facts of the story of how Harry Potter led the wizarding world to defeat Voldemort.
He believed it, though.
It was the only thing left that made sense. Since hearing about the Mirror, he had scoured practically every inch of the castle and had come up with nothing. He was confident enough in his abilities to now think that the reason why he had not been able to find the Mirror yet was because it was stored in a place that was not readily accessible to anyone.
I found you though, didn’t I? He reached out a thin, pasty hand and touched the gilded frame of the Mirror with loving reverence.
I found you.
He had switched his now obsessive library reading from the Mirror to the Room of Requirement, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the Librarian. He had no time for people these days though, so her comments washed over him like so much useless air. His fascination with the Mirror had reached fever pitch, and he was now forsaking friendships and civil social interaction in order to finally find his prize. Occasionally, a fellow student would state their concern for him, but he didn’t care. Teachers, students, they were all background noise to him now. All that mattered was his quest. Even his parents had become a nuisance. The owls that they sent from home, begging for word on how he was doing, were either left unread or thrown irritably into the common room fire. It was all distraction to him. Nothing else mattered. He had to find that Mirror.
His research into the Room of Requirement eventually yielded fruit. Little was known about it, at least from what was written down, but one small piece of information was enough to set him on a new and refreshed search. Buried within one of the many books that he incessantly pored over was a mention of the Room of Requirement last being located somewhere on the seventh floor. That was enough for him. Hogwarts castle was huge, so to have his desperate search narrowed down to one particular corridor was like manna from Heaven. He copied down this particular entry and kept that small piece of parchment with him at all times. It became his key to finding the Mirror. It was within his grasp; he could almost taste it.
He let go of his legs and splayed them out in front of him, knowing that if he didn’t want to get terrible cramp he needed to change position every so often. He had learned that the hard way. It was typical that he would have a flying lesson right after a particularly lengthy time with the Mirror. He had been so stiff and sore that he had been excused from the lesson and sent to the hospital wing, and that was when another idea came to him. He had not grown up a sickly child, and in his first and second years of Hogwarts – they seemed like distant past lives now – he had barely gotten ill, but after that trip to the hospital wing he had hit upon a fresh source of reasons to be out of class. All of a sudden he became terribly ill a lot of the time, at least according to the teachers. His obsession with finding the Mirror, and then with using it, forced him to miss classes on a regular basis. There had been Talkings To and Letters Home, but he didn’t care about any of that stuff anymore. He just nodded and promised to do better, but that was all lip-service. His time at Hogwarts had become about one thing and one thing only, finding the Mirror of Erised.
With his search now significantly focussed, he started to spend as much time as possible on the seventh floor as he could. There was a time when he would have toiled over plausible excuses as to why he was there, but nothing like that mattered anymore. This was the closest that he had ever come to finding the Mirror and he wasn’t about to let trifling things like school rules stand in his way. That didn’t go down too well with the caretaker, Argus Filch, who had apparently tended the halls of Hogwarts in the days of Harry Potter. The word was that he was so spiteful and set in his ways that, when he died, he remained within the castle as a ghost and never relinquished his role of caretaker. He had fallen foul of Filch on numerous occasions, but he didn’t care. The drone of teachers, of friends, his parents, Filch, all turned to white noise in his ears. He simply didn’t have time for any of them anymore. He had a purpose and nothing was going to stand in his way.
Over time, he checked every inch of the seventh floor, mentally repeating that he wanted the Room of Requirement to show itself to him and reveal the Mirror of Erised. He constantly referred to the scrap of parchment that he kept on him, even though by now he could recite it verbatim, convinced that the Room would see his need and eventually acquiesce.
Eventually, it did.
After walking up and down the seventh floor corridor a seemingly endless number of times – although time had no meaning anymore – a movement in the corner of his eye caused him to stop.
This was it!
The wall before him was changing. What was previously solid stone was now a nondescript door, sitting there as if it had always done so. He remembered the odd sensation he had felt in that moment, remembered it vividly. It was as if all of his life had been leading up to this moment. His throat grew dry; his knees trembled. He remembered how unreal it felt to turn the door handle and step inside a room that had occupied his thoughts so completely for the last several months.
There it was.
The Mirror of Erised.
The Room of Requirement had clearly been listening. All that was in there were the Mirror and a single armchair. He smiled wearily but triumphantly as he stepped inside the room. He closed the door and heard the sounds of the castle completely die away. They weren’t muffled, like when a regular classroom door was closed, all sound outside of the room ceased.
He was alone with the Mirror.
He crossed the room and took in the Mirror in its entirety. He circled it like a predator circles its prey. It was here. It was his. He sat down in the armchair and regarded his reflection. Gone were the plump, rosy cheeks of youth; replaced instead by sunken and sallow pits. Gone was the twinkle of inquisitive curiosity from his eyes; what stared back at him now was a ravenous hunger that looked more dangerous than inquisitive. For the briefest of moments he thought on what he had sacrificed to be where he was now, but that soon passed. He had worked too long and hard to find the Mirror to worry about what it cost to get there.
Show me, he had thought.
It had shown him.
He fell in love at once with what the Mirror showed him. Paraded before his greedy eyes were a plethora of scenes showing him in the grandest possible light. Top of his class, Head Boy, Prefect, Minister for Magic, it was all there. Now that he had finally found the Mirror his desires returned somewhat to his former self. The Mirror happily reflected his lust for glory and provided him with endless opportunity to sit and wallow in the potential of it all.
It was all so intoxicating.
He couldn’t resist.
Truly, he couldn’t. He had read that the Mirror showed a person their deepest desires, and that was certainly true. What he hadn’t read, however, was how a person’s desires can change, and therefore what the Mirror would show to someone could and would change, also. When he first started using the Mirror his visions were all about achieving personal glory. Nothing was out of his reach, so said the Mirror. However, as time wore on, and as his obsession with gazing into the possible future gripped him ever tighter, what the Mirror showed him became different. The images of him attaining the lofty heights started to dwindle, and instead he started to simply see himself finding ways to get back in front of the Mirror. After a while, that was all it showed him. Every day he would find himself back in the Room of Requirement and every day the images would be the same: him sneaking out of class to be with the Mirror, or him slipping out of bed after lights out to be with the Mirror. This wasn’t what he wanted. He had found the Mirror now and he wanted it to go back to showing him the heady heights that his future no doubt held. The Mirror said otherwise, and continued to show him returning day after day, like a devoted puppy to its master.
He began to grow angry with the Mirror. It wasn’t working properly for him anymore, but the pull of what he had seen in it in the beginning, of what he knew it could and should show him again, was too great. He couldn’t walk away and that was starting to make him angry. He would return, day in and day out, almost as if he was returning to an abusive partner, hoping that this time he would regain the visions of old, the visions of glory that he felt were owed to him.
They never came.
He got so angry with the Mirror that one afternoon, or evening, he wasn’t sure, he took his wand to it. The curse bounced off the shimmering surface of the Mirror and destroyed the armchair. Had he not dived out of the way he would have been killed inside the Room of Requirement, and who knows how long it would be before his body was discovered? If it ever would be.
All that was a lifetime ago. Hogwarts had no doubt changed, but that didn’t affect him. He had long ago given up on the outside world. He rested his aching and aged bones in as comfortable a position as he could on the deflated and forlorn cushion that had once been part of the armchair that the room provided. He wondered if there were still five houses at Hogwarts, or if anyone else had done enough to merit the addition of a sixth. This train of thought continued and he wondered if there even was still a Hogwarts. He assumed there must be. The Room of Requirement was still there; his home now for countless years. He looked bitterly around him at the dust and the cobwebs. Everything had grown so dirty, except for the Mirror. That stayed sparkling clean. He never had to touch it; it seemed to repel dust.
He stared at the Mirror.
The Mirror stared right back.
The image it showed was of him walking away. Finally breaking free of the curse of the Mirror of Erised.
But not today.
One more look.