The Mirror on the Fourth Floor
Summary: Severus Snape and Harry Potter are trapped together
in a collapsed secret passageway behind the fourth floor mirror. They are
forced to see sides of themselves and each other that they hadn’t thought possible.
A/N: This story takes place after Harry sees “Snape’s worst
memory” in the Pensieve. This missing bit of story (Book 5 between Chapters 28
and 29) explains the uneasy truce between Snape and Harry after the Pensieve
That night in Snape’s office
still haunted Harry. How could his father, his own flesh and blood, have been
so cruel? There had to be more to the story. Maybe Snape had been just like
Malfoy, in which case, he’d deserved every bit of it. Maybe, but what if he
wasn’t? What if it was the other way around? He tossed and turned all night
long, but what little sleep he did attain was punctuated by disturbing dreams.
He threw off his covers. Ron was still in the infirmary recovering from the flu
that had been going around the school. It was Saturday morning and he’d
overheard Snape telling another teacher that he had business outside of the
castle to attend to this weekend. This was his chance. He had to know
more. He just couldn’t live with this image of his father, the image of a cruel
bully. He couldn’t bear the thought. If he could just get another quick glimpse
inside the Pensieve; maybe there were other memories, memories that would
explain his father and Sirius’s behavior.
It was still very early when Hermione
joined him for breakfast. “Are you feeling all right? You look awfully pale.” Her
voice resonated in his mind bringing him back to the present.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I just
didn’t sleep well last night, that’s all.” He stared blankly at his food; he
didn’t have much of an appetite.
After breakfast, he crept
down the castle stairs alone towards Snape’s office. What on earth did he
expect to do? Knock on his door and ask to be let in? He stood there a moment, thinking.
Just then, the door opened. He leapt back behind a stone pillar and watched
carefully. Snape was just leaving. It was a cold morning in late March. Snape
fastened his winter cloak and locked his office door behind him. Harry heard
him mumble something to himself as he stalked off.
This was insane he told himself.
He felt a wave of heat come over him and his legs felt shaky. He steadied
himself against the pillar. Must be nerves, he thought to himself. He
waited a few minutes longer before pulling on the invisibility cloak and heading
for Snape’s office. He didn’t know how long Snape would be gone and he didn’t
want to waste any time. Just then, Mrs. Norris, Filch’s cat, stumbled across
his path. She looked up at him curiously. “Not now Mrs. Norris,” Harry
whispered. “Shoo!” Mrs. Norris slinked away, looking back occasionally. He
pulled Sirius’s knife from beneath his cloak and picked the lock. He crept in anxiously,
shutting the door behind him.
Snape’s office was not
exactly inviting. It was filled with bottles of all different shapes and sizes
containing odd-colored liquids, some of which had dead things floating in them.
He shivered. The last time he’d seen the Pensieve, it was sitting atop Snape’s
desk. He looked around. There was no telling where Snape might have put it.
Harry felt rotten somehow for snooping. If he was caught he might well be
expelled. However, his deep desire to know the truth pushed him forward. He
opened drawers and checked cabinets trying very hard not to notice their
contents. He reminded himself that his goal was to find the Pensieve and
nothing else. A few things caught his eye but he forced himself to ignore them––at
least for the moment.
He’d just opened a small
cabinet that looked like a bedside stand when he heard a key in the door. He
froze. Snape back already? He’d only been gone ten minutes! Had he forgotten
something? Harry whipped on the invisibility cloak and smashed himself into the
nearest corner, hoping against hope that it wasn’t...
Snape. Snape paused at the
door; he seemed to have realized that the door he’d locked on his way out was
no longer locked. He looked around his office, his face contorted in an emotion
that could only be described as seething rage. Snape scanned his office for
evidence of an intruder. Then he swept through, pausing slightly at the ajar
cabinet door before rounding on Harry’s corner. “Who’s there?!?” he demanded. Harry
held his breath. “Potter?” Snape whispered. Harry’s heart leapt into his
throat. Did he really know it was Harry, or was he just guessing? “Potter,
where are you?” Snape snatched at the air with his long fingers. Harry looked
toward the door, it wasn’t open enough to slip through unnoticed; he’d need a
distraction. He reached into his pocket for a coin. When Snape had turned his
back to look behind his private potions cabinet, Harry threw it at the far
wall. He didn’t wait for Snape to react, he tore through the door as fast as he
could, Snape’s words “Potter, I’ll get you if it’s the last thing I do!”
echoing in his mind.
The next thing he knew, he
was flat on his back, the invisibility cloak strewn around him. He’d hit
something solid at high speed when he came flying out of Snape’s office. Mr.
Filch lay on the floor across from him looking dazed. He jumped to his feet and
ran as fast as he could up the nearest staircase, his invisibility cloak flapping
behind him in his wake. Had Mrs. Norris alerted Mr. Filch to an intruder in
Snape’s office? Had Mr. Filch stopped Snape and warned him? Whatever the case
may be, he was in deep trouble now, there were no two ways about it.
“GET HIM!” screeched Snape.
Snape was running up the
stairs a few flights behind Harry; Mr. Filch had taken another set of stairs to
head Harry off at the pass. Harry jumped onto the fourth landing and headed
east. He’d never been down this corridor before. The doors along the right side
of the corridor had no handles. On the left side, a large mirror stood,
surrounded on either side by portraits of people who were watching Harry
intently while murmuring amongst themselves. There was a staircase at the far end
of the hallway, but he could hear footsteps running up them towards him.
Feeling trapped he pulled out the Marauder’s Map. Where was he anyway? Just
then, he saw the words “Abiendo” flashing in purple ink. “Of course! The
Mirror!” Fred and George had told him about this passageway to Hogsmeade, but
said it had caved in. He could hide there in the meantime and figure out what
to do next. He pulled out his wand, “Abiendo” he whispered and the mirror slide
aside. He looked over his shoulder and saw Snape’s head rounding the top of the
stairs. He threw himself inside.
Without warning he found
himself falling fast. The darkness was overwhelming; he couldn’t see where he
was going. With a loud thump, he hit the cold ground below. Still in shock, he
watched as the mirror slid shut, the Maruader’s map balanced precariously on
the precipice. He stood up slowly, a bit sore from the fall. Desperately, he
tried to take in his surroundings but it was too dark. As he reached for his
wand, he heard their voices.
Snape was cursing loudly and
Filch, out of breath, joined in on the tirade. “Why that little rotten ….” and
“I’ll get him if it’s the last thing I do!” Then he heard Snape tell Filch to
get the headmaster, immediately. Things just couldn’t get any worse, Harry thought
to himself. But he was wrong. As Filch stormed off, Harry heard nothing. He
closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Please, not the map. There was
some tapping on the mirror and then the word he was dreading.
“ABIENDO” Snape’s voice rang
out. The mirror leapt aside. The map flittered down into the darkness where
Harry stood waiting, his wand raised.
Harry could see Snape
towering at the top of the entrance to the passageway, but all Snape could see
“Potter, I know you’re in
there. Come out this instant!”
Harry was silent. There was
no place he could run to, but he didn’t want to admit to Snape that he was down
“Fine, have it your way, I’ll
drag you out myself!” Snape’s angry voice snarled, slicing through the still
“Wait!” yelled Harry, but it
was too late. In his rage, Snape had already stepped into the darkness. Harry
heard a stifled scream and a whooshing sound as Snape plummeted towards him.
Just then, the mirror leapt shut once again. As if time were moving in slow
motion, Harry realized something far worse than being expelled was happening––he
was going to be trapped with Professor Snape in a small, dark passageway.
Snape landed hard in the same
spot that Harry had, groaning loudly. He lashed out at Harry, who felt Snape’s
fingertips graze his robes and jumped back instinctively. As Snape got to his
feet, the passageway started to rumble and shake, rocks falling all around
them, pummeling them as if angry for being bothered by two wizards who had no business
being there in the first place. Harry covered his head with his hands as Snape swore
loudly and demanded to know what was going on. As their world caved in around
them, Harry was pushed into Snape who fell to the ground. Harry heard a crunching
sound and a piercing cry.
“Lumos,” Snape gasped. The
tip of Snape’s wand lit up their now even smaller space. Snape’s leg had been crushed
by a large boulder.
Harry looked around; they
were trapped in an area not large enough to qualify as a broom closet.
“GET OFF ME, BOY!” Snape spat,
his eyes filled with pain and loathing.
Harry pushed himself off of
Snape, but to his dismay, found that he too was wedged by the fallen rocks. The
best he could do was sit next to Snape and lean against him. Snape glared at
him. If looks could kill, Harry knew he’d be dead.
Snape threw his head back in
disgust. “YOU! It’s always YOU!”
Just then they heard voices.
“He was right here, Headmaster,
I swear!” Filch bellowed with exasperation, still out of breath.
Dumbledore was busy studying
the mirror, a bit of a twinkle in his eye.
“Were down here!” Harry
yelled. As much as he didn’t want to be caught, there was no other way out and
being trapped with Snape had to be worse than any punishment he might be given.
There was no answer.
“Down here! Behind the
mirror!” Harry yelled desperately.
Snape sneered, flashing Harry
those fierce black eyes, “They can’t hear you! There’s an Imperturbable Charm on
“But we can hear them.”
“Of course we can, you silly
boy! It’s a one-way curse!”
Professor Dumbledore cleared
his throat. “Harry, Severus, if you can hear me, we are trying to get you out
of there. That passageway is not all that stable, so we best not go about it
from this end.”
And with that, there was
silence. Harry sat in horror realizing that he might be trapped for days with
Snape was shaking with rage,
his teeth clenched, “If he thinks leaving us down her together…”
“Look,” Harry said, anger
building in his voice. “I don’t want to be down here with YOU anymore than you
want to be with ME. Can’t you do something to get us out of here?”
“Like WHAT?” spat Snape.
“I don’t know, can’t you move
these boulders, put a spell on them or something? Make the mirror open so they
can get to us?”
“You stupid, stupid boy! You
don’t know ANYTHING!” Snape shouted. “And how dare you speak to me in that tone
of voice, BOY! You got us into this mess, you filthy little….” he paused.
Snape’s voice lowered,
becoming more cold and contemptuous, a dangerous goading stirred behind his
eyes. “You’re just like your father.”
Harry froze, anger rising
inside of him, threatening to boil over. He was trapped with a man he hated
more than anything and this man was insulting his father. “How dare you speak
about my father like that, you…”
“SILENCE!” Snape tried to
raise himself up. Harry clenched his fists, but Snape just writhed in pain.
“You are lucky my leg is
broken, Potter! You don’t know what pain is…” his steely voice continued,
sending a chill down Harry’s spine which served only to make Harry angrier.
Voices above them interrupted
them once again. There were some girls giggling and talking about a boy one of
them had a crush on. Snape muttered something unintelligible and rounded on
Harry. “What were you doing in my office anyway, Potter?”
Harry sat quietly for a
moment. He didn’t owe Snape an answer, he didn’t owe him anything!
“WHAT POTTER? TELL ME NOW OR
“You’ll what?” said Harry in
a defiant voice. Harry leaned forward and saw Snape’s fingers curling tightly
around his wand, his lips quivering. The temperature in their small space
seemed to be rising very rapidly. It occurred to Harry that Snape could easily put
the Cruciatus curse on him and no one would be the wiser. Pain like you’ve
never known before, Snape’s voice echoed in his mind. Worst of all, Harry’s
wand had been knocked out of his hand during the cave-in. If Snape chose to
curse him, he had no defense.
Harry sank back against the
wall and sighed. “I was looking for the Pensieve,” Harry muttered with
“WHAT?!?” The shock in Snape’s
voice was unmistakable.
“I… I wanted to know more
about my father.” Harry’s courage was mounting. “I wanted to know why he
treated you that way.” Harry wiped the sweat from his brow as Snape eyed him
“You think I deserved it, do
you?” Snape said coldly, staring hatefully into Harry’s eyes.
Harry returned the hateful
stare but did not answer.
“I should have known,” Snape shook
his head in disgust. “Little baby Potter running to daddy.”
Harry jerked forward, Snape’s
evil smile dancing on his lips, knowing that he’d gotten the best of Harry.
“What is it Potter? Can’t…”
but Snape stopped, a quizzical look darting momentarily across his face.
A wave of heat had washed
over Harry. His breathing had abruptly changed, his eyes lost their focus, and
he was pulling at his robes.
“It’s so hot in here,” Harry’s
voice creaked as he began to sway slightly.
“That’s because you’re leaning
on me!” snapped Snape.
But that wasn’t it. Snape’s words
echoed in the distance, meaningless words. His voice drifted farther and
farther away and became jumbled with other familiar sounds bounding through Harry’s
“GET YOUR HEAD OFF ME!”
Snape’s voice boomed in Harry’s ear as he shoved Harry’s head off his shoulder.
Harry tried to clear his
mind, but his head was foggy and he couldn’t think straight.
“Where are we?” he asked,
disoriented, squinting into the darkness.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Snape
shot back, “Surely you know where we are, it’s YOUR fault we’re here!”
My fault, my fault, the thoughts resounded in Harry’s head, My fault
we’re here, who’s we? Snape, SNAPE! Harry startled, looking wide-eyed at
Snape. Snape’s eyes lingered on him with disgust. Snape’s lips were moving, but
Harry couldn’t understand him. The look of incomprehension on Harry’s face was
driving Snape mad with anger.
“Potter, POTTER! Look at me!”
the voice demanded.
But Harry couldn’t look at
him, he couldn’t look at anything. His world had faded to black again.
When he regained some semblance
of consciousness, he was soaking wet and shaking violently, his head bouncing
off the rock wall behind him. His teeth were chattering. He felt something
moving. It was grunting and making high pitched noises as if it was in pain. Its
breath was raspy and labored. Harry didn’t know what it was and he couldn’t
open his eyes. That something was now moving him. It was pushing his upper body
forward, it was wrapping something around him, pulling him back again, and tucking
it around his front. The scent from whatever had been wrapped around him
infiltrated his senses. It was a familiar scent, but he couldn’t quite place
it. As he shook uncontrollably, he felt something else go around him. He was
pulled towards a solid mass as if he were being restrained. He shook forcefully
against it. The harder he shook, the more tightly it held on.
The next time he awoke was to
a tingling sensation invading his body. His eyes burned, his head hurt as if
the weight of his wet hair was tearing his scalp apart. His skin ached as his drenched
robes clung to it. He tried to move, but he didn’t have the strength. That scent
invaded his senses again, and it slowly occurred to him what it was––Professor
Snape. He forced his eyes open; it took a minute to adjust to the dim light. He
glanced first to his left and then to his right; he was too weak to lift his
Harry sat in the darkness,
the only sound being that of Snape’s rhythmic breathing. He’d stopped shaking
and felt very dizzy and weak. He felt a touch of hunger too. How long had they
been down there? Snape’s wand lay across his legs, still shining a small sphere
of light around their surroundings. Harry remembered how they’d ended up there,
and remembered Snape’s shattered leg which was still pressed under the boulder.
Harry wondered how he could sleep through the pain.
He took a deep breath. The
thoughts occurring to him were incomprehensible. Had Snape taken pity on him,
Harry Potter? Had Snape, Severus Snape, wrapped his cloak around Harry out of compassion?
Had Snape put his arm around Harry, held Harry tight to his side to keep him from
hitting his head on the rocks as he shook uncontrollably? Restraining Harry
surely would have caused Snape’s leg to hurt even worse. It was unfathomable.
Snape hated Harry and Harry hated Snape. Snape would never lift a wand to help
him––or would he? The idea that Snape might actually have some amount of
compassion buried deep beneath that evil exterior was even more disturbing than
the caring acts themselves. Just as Harry couldn’t bear the thought of his own
father being a bully, the thought that Snape might not have deserved it was
even more unbearable. Harry shuttered. Snape stirred, but did not wake.
Harry sat alone with his
thoughts, playing back all of the interactions he and Snape had ever had,
playing back the memory in the Pensieve. Harry drifted off again and dreamed of
Snape as a smaller-than-average child who was bullied by his father. He saw
Snape dreaming of going to Hogwarts, of escaping his childhood hell. Of finding
friends and having fun. And then Harry saw his own father seeing the weakness
in Snape, the hurt, and latching on to it. Thriving on it. He felt a burning
sensation in his throat. It couldn’t have been that way, it just couldn’t have.
As Harry lingered somewhere
between sleep and wakefulness, he could feel himself being propped against the cold
wall of rubble. Then he felt Snape trying to reposition himself, presumably to
lessen the pain in his leg. He could hear Snape’s strained breathing as he shifted,
cursing from the pain.
“What if we levitate that
boulder,” Harry ventured, his voice sounding as if his mouth was full of
“Well, Potter, it seems
you’ve rejoined the world of the living,” Snape snickered.
It occurred to Harry that
although Snape may have taken care of him while he was ill, Snape was not about
to admit it. “I just thought…”
“Well you thought wrong!”
Snape snapped, leaning back, a look of anguish on his face. “If I levitate the
boulder on my leg, all the other rocks that boulder is holding up will come
crashing down.” Snape spoke as if he were talking to a senseless child.
Snape was right. Harry tried
to think of something else useful, but he could not. They sat in silence for
what must have been only minutes but seemed like hours.
Harry felt the wave of heat
swarm over him again and his head started to sway. Snape turned to look at him.
He opened his mouth to say something nasty Harry was sure, but promptly shut it
again, a mixture of disgust and dread in his eyes. Harry could feel his body
start to tremble and his eyes roll back in his head. Snape’s voice seeped
through the fog, “Not this again,” it drawled. As the fog began to cloud out
his consciousness, Harry felt Snape’s arm wrap around him again, holding him tight
as he began to shake violently. He vaguely recognized Snape gritting his teeth against
the excruciating pain in his leg.
Harry thought he heard a
noise, the sound of rocks moving in the distance. He wasn’t sure if it was real
or if he was just dreaming. He started to say something but Snape interrupted
“Quiet!” Snape snapped.
Harry could hear the familiar
voices but his head was still too foggy to decipherer much.
“They’re over here, I think.”
“Yeah, this way.”
He felt Snape lean back
against the wall, cursing under his breath, “Of all people to rescue us, it has
to be THEM.”
“Who?” Harry asked, still
feeling out of it.
“Oh, shut up, boy, you’ll
find out soon enough.” The exasperated tone of Snape’s voice was unmistakable.
The disembodied voice was
nearer now. “We have to be careful, we don’t want to cause anymore cave-ins.”
“SIRIUS!” Harry tried to sit
up, but Snape grabbed him forcefully.
“Stay still, boy, you are in
no condition to be moving around.”
Just as Harry was about to
protest, he felt a wave of dizziness come over him. His field of vision blurred
and he felt the world slip away.
As he regained consciousness
again, voices saying things like “the shakes” and “fever” and “in
and out of consciousness” were reverberating in his mind. It took all of
his effort to open his eyes. Sirius was kneeling over him, a look of worry and
concern etched across his pale face. Harry tried to talk, but Sirius quieted
“It’s okay, we’re going to get
you out of here.”
Harry blinked and tried to
smile at his godfather. There was movement next to him. He glanced over to see Professor
Lupin using his wand to splint Snape’s leg and helping Snape to his feet, Snape
hanging heavily on Lupin’s thin frame. Harry looked wearily back at Sirius whose
words were beginning to blend together in a rush of incomprehensible sounds. Before
Harry could speak, he slipped back into the realm of unconsciousness.
Harry awoke in the infirmary.
He sensed that there were people very near him. He could also hear voices in
the distance. Professor Dumbledore was saying something to someone about their actions
being very admirable. Snape’s voice chimed in, ringing in Harry’s ears, “broke
into my office… you can’t let him get away with it this time…” Madam Pomfrey’s
voice cut in, “Severus, you have to understand, he was out of his mind, this
flu that’s going around is really something, I haven’t seen the likes of it in
years!” Yet something was tugging inside of Harry. He knew very well what
he was doing when he broke into Snape’s office. His mind had been clear then.
“I wasn’t out of my mind,” he
muttered, his eyes still closed.
Silence fell as all eyes in
the room came to rest upon him.
“Mr. Potter, you mustn’t over
exert yourself,” coddled Madam Pomfrey rushing to his side. “You need your rest
Harry had managed not only to
open his eyes, but to put his glasses on and get his eyes to focus. He pushed
himself up enough in bed so that he could see Snape staring at him from a bed
across the wing. “I wasn’t out of my mind when I broke into Professor Snape’s
office,” Harry said, looking directly into Snape’s eyes.
“SEE, I TOLD YOU—“ Snape had
started to say but suddenly stopped.
Harry glanced away. “It was
wrong of me to do it, it was stupid really,” he continued more humbly.
Sirius was staring at Harry,
no doubt wondering why on earth Harry would admit his guilt when Madam Pomfrey had
given him the perfect out. Harry looked from Sirius to Professor Dumbledore to Snape,
whose gaze had shifted from disdain to astonishment.
Dumbledore approached Harry’s
bed. “And what were you hoping to find there, Harry?”
Harry took a deep breath. “I…
I was hoping to see my father.”
At this Snape sighed loudly, throwing
himself back onto his bed.
Dumbledore waited for Harry
to go on. “I saw my father in the Pensieve in Professor Snape’s office and,
well…” he had given Snape his word that he wouldn’t tell a soul what he’d seen,
“and I just wanted to see him again, that’s all. But I didn’t find the Pensieve
and Professor Snape caught me in the act.”
“He certainly did,” said
Harry looked over at Snape;
it seemed to him that Snape was a touch relieved that Harry hadn’t said more.
Still, Snape was in no mood to look weak or be generous.
“Professor Dumbledore, this
boy needs to be punished! He can’t be allowed to go breaking into people’s
offices, not to mention almost getting himself and me killed!”
“No, he most certainly can
Snape looked as though
Dumbledore had just changed into an elephant.
There was an odd twinkle in
Dumbledore’s eye. “Severus, I leave it up to you to determine Harry’s
punishment. Please inform me when you have decided.”
Ron and Hermione, who had
been sitting quietly next to Harry, gasped in harmony. Dumbledore gave them a
look that silenced them immediately.
Meanwhile, Snape looked on in
shock at Dumbledore. He quickly regained his composure. “Well,” he chuckled
Harry could see the wheels
spinning in Snape’s head. Harry knew that Snape would love to expel him yet he
felt that they had come to some sort of fragile truce down there under the
mirror. They still didn’t like each other, but Harry hadn’t told Snape’s secret
Harry could see Snape
observing him shrewdly, his eyes narrowed. Finally, Snape said, “Well, I think
two weeks of detention ought to do it.”
Harry let out a sigh of
relief. He felt like smiling, but forced his face to remain expressionless.
“Thank you, Severus,”
Dumbledore said, “When Harry is well enough, the two of you can discuss the
terms of his detention.”
It was late that evening in
the infirmary and Harry was alone now. Professor Snape had been returned to
health by Madam Pomfrey and was released earlier that day. He stared out the
window, watching the clouds drift across the moon. Remembered the glint he had
seen in Dumbledore’s eyes he laughed. Now that his head was clearer, it all made
sense. Snape’s words echoed in his head, “If he thinks leaving us down here
together…” but Harry had interrupted him. He suddenly realized that Snape
knew what Dumbledore was doing all along. Dumbledore could have gotten Harry
and Snape out from behind the mirror that very morning. But he had chosen not
to. Perhaps he thought leaving the two of them alone together for some time
might prove beneficial. And, sending Sirius and Professor Lupin to rescue them
might build some bridges between the old rivals as well. Harry shook his head
and laughed again. The old wizard’s wisdom never ceased to amaze him.