What Would You See ?
a series of short stories by Ada Kensington
The sound of small footsteps running recklessly echoed through the dark, moonlit corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – but little Remus Lupin was past caring. He cared not for Filch, not for the all-seeing eyes of Mrs Norris, not for Professor McGonagall and not even for Dumbledore. In fact, he half wished that one of them – preferably Dumbledore, who had most authority – would catch him and send him home. For a mundane life at home would be one hundred times better than the life of silence and fear that he lived at Hogwarts.
Blinded by tears, the quiet, good-natured, Remus Lupin ran, staggering and sobbing, round another corner, and another, and another – until he fell, exhausted, through a heavy, unlocked, oak door and lay upon the freezing flagstone floor, trembling – hugging his knees and sobbing silently in the darkness.
Why did it have to be him? Why did it choose to bite him? Why did he have to be such a freak? Did that werewolf know that that one bite had condemned him to a life of misery, pain and exclusion?
Probably not, but he was sure that although that werewolf could not remember biting him – and did not intentionally target him – he, or she, knew the pain he was going through – and had most likely suffered the same torment as he had, Remus concluded, tearfully. But it wasn’t his fault! So why did he have to suffer for it? No one even knew his secret yet. So why did they still pick on him?
It wasn’t fair…
A heavy hand came down from nowhere and knocked his books and ink from his arms in an explosion of loose paper and quills. His jar of ink, mercifully, hit the ground rolling – but was stopped abruptly by a large, heavy foot, whose heavy-set owner bent down and picked up the bottle, grinning nastily at Remus through a curtain of thick, brown hair.
Remus knew what was coming.
“Morning, sick boy,” a trollish voice replied conversationally – now flanked by three other Slytherin boys – all in first year, like Remus – but much, much bigger than he was.
“I have to go. I’m going to be late for Potions,” Remus mumbled, bending down to pick up his books.
However, instead of grabbing a book, a foot struck out and kicked him forcefully in the ribs. Remus let out a gasp of pain and bubbles burst in front of his eyes, making him dizzy. He fell to the ground. Then more feet started kicking – a steady rhythm of heavy feet slamming into Remus’s chest and legs – making his ribcage jar and tighten agonisingly. He could make out the roaring call of a voice amongst the jeering laughter of his tormentors:
“Coming, Snape? Want to take a shot?”
“Sod off, Avery. I’m going to be late for Potions,” the voice answered curtly (and seeming to Remus, as it were coming from the other end of a tin can fellytone).
His tormentors ceased to torment for a moment, and Remus took the opportunity to take a few deep, shuddering breaths, wanting to crawl away – but unable to – as he heard another pair of footsteps coming to join the savage throng.
“That’s pathetic,” a smooth voice sneered haughtily. “I didn’t think you were that much of a coward, Avery, but it seems as though I was--”
Avery lunged at the offender. There was a blinding flash, which made Remus’s head spin, and Avery flew through the air – landing on the floor with a thump. Remus could head him screaming something about his arms. Blearily turning around, he saw a pale, scrawny boy with greasy, black hair pointing his wand at the other three boys – his black eyes glittering dangerously and his hair flying wildly over his face.
“Do - not – mess – with – me. Understand, Rosier? Wilkes? Lestrange?” he said softly, as if daring them to make any sudden moves.
The three other boys nodded warily, as if the Snape boy would blow them apart if they so much as flickered an eyelid. The Snape boy smiled nastily and nodded and glancing quickly at Remus’s prone form – he turned and walked away silently.
Suddenly, two boys thundered round the corner, yelling something that Remus could not make out. Rosier, Wilkes and Lestrange darted away after the Snape boy, leaving Avery behind, whimpering.
A worried face bent over Remus’s bloody face. A worried face with messy, black hair and square-rimmed spectacles, which was soon joined by another worried face with lightly tanned skin and a handsome complexion. James Potter and Sirius Black.
“What did that piece of filth do to you, Remus?” Siruis growled, tossing his head over in the direction of the whimpering Avery.
“S’okay. Used to it,” he mumbled, trying to get up – and failing miserably.
“We’d better take them to the hospital wing, Sirius,” James whispered.
“What? Even that slimy?--” Sirius yelled.
James nodded, and slung Remus’s unresponsive arm over his shoulder and heaved him up.
“Come on, Remus. We’ll take you to the hospital wing…”
Remus nodded absently – then passed out.
Starting, Remus awoke to find himself sitting bolt upright in a cold, empty room. He had fallen asleep after crashing through the door to this place.
For one sickening moment, he thought he’d slept in and was late for Charms – but the thought was quickly quashed as he saw the moonlight filtering in through the windows.
“Moonlight,” he whispered, and shuddered at the thought.
Getting up stiffly, he thought about returning to his bed in the dormitory… and was just about to… when he felt an unfounded urge to have a look around the room.
Padding silently across the pleasantly cool floor in his bare feet, he placed a cold, shaky hand upon a smooth, stone pillar which rose up, up, up into the lofty rafters – where it joined it’s partners in making arches that ran all the way down the room – continued by chains of other smooth, stone pillars, making a grand corridor.
Remus had to admit; the room did look a little creepy in the half-darkness. Great looming shadows made by the pillars – then deep impenetrable shadows in the corners where the light never fell, but… hard as it was to explain… he felt somewhat at ease in this calm, moonlit, solitary room…
Rounding another pillar, his gaze was immediately captured by a dazzlingly, crystalline sheen. It was the moonlight, reflected by a massive mirror in an extravagant solid gold frame, supported by two huge, taloned feet.
Amazed by the beauty of the object, Remus started slowly towards the mirror – his blue eyes wide and his mouth agape. Nearing the mirror, he could make out an inscription carved, in a gothic style, in a curve over the mirror:
“Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.”
“Erised stra ehru… what?” Remus whispered, puzzled.
Reading it over and over and repeating the inscription to himself countless times – he realised that this inscription was a riddle of some sort…
“I show… not your face… but… your… heart’s desire!” Remus exclaimed eventually, beaming because he had solved the riddle.
Remus’s gaze then travelled down towards his reflection in the mirror and his smile faded.
“Well then, Mirror. Let’s see if you’re anywhere near close,” Remus said, soberly.
His reflection (to Remus’s fright) nodded, and winked at him. Then, shimmering like a vision of the horizon through a heat haze, two people appeared with their arms around Remus’s shoulders, smiling. Two people appeared – and made Remus burst into tears.
It was James Potter and Sirius Black … and they were… friends…with him.
He had friends. Friends who accepted him for what he was…
…and didn’t care.
Hot silent tears trickled down his pale cheeks as he stared, infatuated, at the mirror. The image of James and Sirius stirred something inside him, making him sick with longing. However, Remus knew that what he beheld was not a reflection of reality – and that it was no use in pretending – for (as he had so often been told by his father), it did not do to dwell on dreams…
“Remus! There you are!” a voice whispered.
Remus whirled around, wiping his eyes, ready to make up yet another lie… but there was no one there.
“W-who’s there?” Remus asked, warily.
“Over here, stupid,” a familiar voice answered, as two grinning figures appeared as if from nowhere.
It was James Potter and Sirius Black.
“Peter said he saw you leaving. Down towards the Library, he said,” Sirius said smiling.
“So we got under this,” James finished, flashing a silvery cloak, “and came looking for you.”
“Is that an Invisibility Cloak?” he asked, astounded, taking a step back.
“Sure is,” James replied, grinning from ear to ear. “Come on. There’s room for three under here – that’s why Peter couldn’t come,” he added.
“Well, what’re we waiting for,” Sirius exclaimed, putting an arm round Remus’s shoulder. “Let’s get going before old Filch and his mangy, old, moggy, catch us.”
Remus was herded under the Invisibility Cloak by James and Sirius, and was swept away and out of the room… but not before he stole a last look back at the mirror, and at his reflection, which grinned widely at him, winked, then faded.
Sirius must’ve noticed him staring, as he turned to try and see what Remus was looking at, and noticed the mirror.
“Cool mirror!” Sirius exclaimed. “Wonder why its way up here…”
Remus shrugged, and was steered out of the room and up to the Gryffindor Tower amidst whispered talk of Quidditch and invitations to come and watch the next practise, and of how much trouble they’d be in the Filch caught them, and of their upcoming Transfiguration exam - and he let the talk just wash over him.
For the first time in his life – he had friends and he had been accepted.
…and he was truly happy.