What I’ve Tasted Of Erised
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice
Snape was not sure what had suddenly brought the words of the famous Robert
Frost poem to mind. Perhaps it was the last faint warning of a long-dead
conscience. Perhaps it was the fact that his life had always been a clash of
elements—a battle for supremacy between fire and ice. It was not that Snape did
not know what it was he desired, oh no, that was not the cause of his fury and
frustration. Most assuredly not! It was the galling fact, the cruel irony of
his life, that everything, everything he had ever wanted or desired had the
singularly damnable habit of slipping through his fingers just when he thought
the object of his pursuit well within his grasp…
But not this
time. Not. This. Time.
Sorcerer’s Stone would be his, and with it an endless supply of the Elixir of
Life, not to mention all the gold he could ever wish for. An infinite supply of
money along with an infinite lifetime in which to spend it…what more could a
wizard wish for?
reflected for a moment. Infinite power, of course. That would be the ultimate
dream-come-true. Then Snape would serve no one else but himself. No more
Dumbledore. No more obligations. No more rules and restraints. Nothing between
himself and…and what? After omnipotence, what more could one wish for?
vengeance of course.
vengeance on whom? James Potter was dead. Sirius Black was serving a life
sentence in Azkaban, which was nearly the same thing. Peter Pettigrew was
confined to his animal form for the rest of his life, bound to do whatever
Snape told him to do…lest Snape let it slip to certain ears that a certain
spineless traitor had only faked his grisly demise. And Remus Lupin…suffered
from an excruciatingly painful, incurable malady. Voldemort perhaps? Yes, His
Lordship had been most cruel to his servants, had treated most abominably those
who had unwisely placed their trust in him. Indeed, Snape had good cause to
hate his former master. But the Dark Lord had lost almost all of his former
power and now clung to life as a parasite, a mere shadow, an almost laughable
echo of his once-matchless might and terror. What fate could be worse for the
vain, power-loving, self-absorbed, self-styled Dark Lord than that?
was left whom Snape detested enough to enjoy punishing?
but Harry Potter, the child of his hated enemy James. Harry Potter…The Boy
Who Lived. The spoiled, thankless eleven-year-old whelp could hardly know,
alas, what the purchase of his life had cost others in tears and sleepless
nights. He could never know the depths of grief into which the miracle of his
survival had plunged others. Not even if Snape had an infinite amount of time
in which to instruct the child…not even then would the boy understand.
his head as if to clear it, and mentally drug himself back into the present. No
sense wallowing in past miseries, he scolded himself. Regret was unproductive.
The key to the Sorcerer’s Stone awaited him on the off-limits third-floor wing!
briskly ascended the steps, his pace as quick and as silent as a shadow’s. The
Potions master knew how to walk like a cat when he wished; the Marauders had
long ago taught him the value of stealth. Hogwarts was full of bad memories.
Seven years and dozens of bitter enemies—some of whom had been in his own house
until the war had begun—made for a great many reasons to keep his thoughts
grounded in the present.
Oh, it was
not that the halls and stairs and rooms did not hold the same humiliating,
painful, depressing memories, no. The memories remained, like dagger-sharp
crystallized tears…but now they were bottled, and labeled, and stored, and
lined up in neat rows like the bottles of his potions ingredients on the
shelves in his dungeon domain. Everything had its use, and everything had its
place…even grief. For the most valuable lesson Snape had ever learned was the
lesson so many of his students seemed too lazy or too small-minded to grasp these
take any bottle he wished at any time, remove the stopper, pour out the
contents, and bottle it back up again when it had accomplished its purpose.
Lies dripped from his tongue like honey, and for the most part were lapped up
eagerly. He could glide into a room full of people, unnoticed, as invisible as
if he wore a cloak of demiguise hair. Or he could charge into a classroom like
a raging black funnel-cloud and send disruptive students scurrying for cover.
He could change personalities and camouflage himself like a chameleon, or like
a Boggart, he could take whatever form his adversary most feared.
always used to be at the mercy of others, and they had shown little of it
indeed. And that was all well and good, for it had made him stronger, and had
taught him the weakness and uselessness of the foolish concept of mercy. To
have mercy on an enemy was to grant him another chance to destroy you with the
next blow. And Snape had learned a little more with each defeat, had risen
again a little stronger for each time that he had been struck down. It had not
taken Voldemort’s instruction to show him the true measure of things. No, life
itself had been his greatest teacher. He did, however, have to admit that it
was Voldemort who had taught him the secrets of power and control over enemies,
emotions, thoughts, minds, indeed, to be master of all he surveyed. Vengeance, Voldemort
had promised, and peace, security, satisfaction. Indeed, all of the things
Dumbledore claimed to offer, but had not the will to enforce. These things Voldemort
had understood, and for a while Voldemort had had the will and the power to
make them happen.
something had gone wrong with His Lordship’s great ambition. Something had
caused him to lose control. Perhaps, Snape reflected soberly, the Dark Lord had
shared his insights about power and the secrets of life a little too freely.
Perhaps this was why he became paranoid, and why he felt it necessary to begin
punishing his servants so harshly. Snape decided that if he were to ever become
as powerful as Lord Voldemort, he would certainly keep his secrets to himself.
No one, not even his own reflection in the mirror would ever be allowed to know
his thoughts. Yes, Snape thought, if he were ever to have the kind of power
that the Dark Lord had once had, he would certainly wield it more wisely…
Snape thought again with a serpentine smirk. Yes, that was the secret of life.
He had mastered himself, and he had mastered his enemies, and someday, maybe he
would even master Hogwarts as well. Omnipotence… Snape reflected. Who knew but
that with an infinite amount of time to devote to his craft and to his studies
he might master…everything?
the Stone, without which all other ambitions were moot.
reached the top of the stairwell, rounded the corner, and traversed the
off-limits corridor where the staggered stone pillars sprang to life with flame
at his passing. Somewhere around here…
paused, wondering which storage room off this hallway housed the object of his
search. Dumbledore hadn’t said specifically where the mirror was stored, and Quirrell
hadn’t had a chance to look. Or so the cowardly fool had said. Snape suspected
that Quirrell was only stalling again, due to the fact that he was afraid to go
through with the plot. Snape tsked irritably as he headed for the nearest door.
If only he could do it all himself! He hated having to rely on that bumbling
idiot for help. But Snape knew that successfully stealing the stone would
require at least two people.
was unlocked, and the knob turned easily in Snape’s hand. Potter must have
forgotten to lock it behind him when he left the last time. Perhaps that was
how Dumbledore knew the boy had been sneaking in here after curfew. Or
perhaps…was it possible? That the door had been left unlocked for another
pushed the door open, stepped into the dusty, moonlit, cobweb-bedecked room and
looked around. The room was empty.
beside the door with his right hand still on the doorknob. This room he
remembered quite well…
been drop-cloth covered chairs and desks in this room once. Bookshelves, filing
cabinets, unused textbooks, extra rolls of parchment. Unused torches, candle
stands, and oil lamps stood like silent sentries, ghostlike in the shafts of
moonlight streaming in through the mullioned windows. The floor had been coated
with dust then as well, but the dust had been disturbed by three sets of
footprints leading into the room. Had Snape been a little more observant of his
surroundings back then, he would have known better than to walk into this room
Sirius shouted, leaping out from behind one of the support pillars.
Too late. The Shield Charm failed as the wand flew out of Snape’s hand and
landed several feet away.
Snape felt a thrill of panic run though his veins as he dove for the wand.
Totalis!” James shouted, leaping out from behind a filing cabinet. Peter
removed a drop cloth from over his head (thus putting to an end his rather
unconvincing impersonation of an unused piece of furniture), and raised his
aim was flawless as always. Snape went as stiff as a board in mid-air and hit
the floor with a resounding thump, his wand-hand stretched out before him, a
taunting half-meter away from its goal.
Snivelly!” James crowed, laughing maliciously.
snickered. “Nice one, James. Nice one!”
took a deep, exaggerated bow while Sirius stalked over and grabbed Snape’s
wand. “What an idiot!” Sirius remarked, handing the wand to James.
was not sure whether the comment was directed at him or James’ simpering
knew he’d fall for it,” said James. “He just can’t resist sticking his big nose
into other peoples’ business.”
we ought to put the Cruciatus Curse on him, and see how he likes the taste of
his own potions,” Sirius remarked, while Peter snickered nastily, and James and
Snape glared at each other.
turned his glare toward Sirius. “No, Padfoot,” he said sternly. “We’re not
stooping to his level.”
very much thought that they already had, but was not exactly in a position to
Prongs,” Sirius wheedled. “It’s not like anyone is going to find out about it
not that,” James argued. “It’s the principle.”
cares about principle? It’s only Snape we’re talking about.”
not using the Cruciatus Curse, and that’s final.”
starting to sound just like Perfect Prefect Moony, do you know that, Prongs?”
don’t even start that again, Sirius, I’m getting very tired of hearing…”
twitched his fingers while the two continued to argue. The Binding Spell was
beginning to wear off.
Peter interrupted, pointing at Snape.
and Sirius waited a little too long to pay attention to the warning.
stealthily drew his legs up under himself, and then rather clumsily launched
himself at James.
tried to jump out of the way, but reacted a split second too late. Snape
tackled his legs, and James toppled like cut timber. Peter watched as James and
Snape grappled fiercely on the floor. Sirius tried to get a bead on Snape with
his wand, but was reluctant to cast anything for fear of hitting James.
moment, Sirius threw up his hands in exasperation and then put away his wand.
He turned to Peter and pushed up his sleeves. “Okay, if you get a chance, hit
Snape with whatever hex you want. If not, then just keep standing there like a
bump on a Clabbert like you always do while I take care of this…”
supposed that if Lily Evans hadn’t gone looking for James that night, the
Marauders would have beat him to a bloody pulp. Lily had always seemed to have
the most extraordinary sense of timing, always showing up to save the day.
Although, in that case, said rescue also involved the grizzled old caretaker
Filch, and two weeks’ worth of detentions for all parties involved in the
had always had good timing, except, of course, for the one time when it really
shouldn’t have died that night. She shouldn’t even have been there! Snape had
arranged things so carefully…but nothing had gone according to his plans.
master sighed softly, his hand slipped off the doorknob, and he walked over to
the object of his search. In the light filtering in through the mullioned
windows, Snape could see many sets of footprints on the floor where someone, or
more likely several someones, had come and gone to sit or to stand and peer
into the Mirror of Erised. This, Dumbledore had said at the meeting, would be
the last obstacle, the final layer of defense around the Sorcerer’s Stone. And
now that Harry Potter had had a chance to study the Mirror of Erised, it was
time to move the mirror to its new home.
meant that Snape only had a limited amount of time in which to study the Mirror
himself, to figure out its purpose, and to ponder Dumbledore’s intent for it. One
night only to gaze into the mirror, to understand its secret, and to pass that
secret along to Quirrell, his pawn.
looked into the mirror and saw…
himself, black-robed, black-haired, pale-faced, glittery-eyed with ambition,
determination…and hatred. Snape watched the corners of his thin lips curl into
a small smug smile of satisfaction. “We may not be much to look at, you and I,”
he remarked drily to his reflection, “but here we are. We have survived. We
have fought, scratched and struggled, and we have survived. Maybe even we will
win. Maybe someday, we will have it all our way.”
Snape spoke, a fog rolled over the surface of the mirror, and his shadow-self
vanished and was replaced by…
A room. An
office. A very fine, impressive-looking office with a large imposing ebony desk
and tall, mullioned windows (which, by the way, had heavy curtains drawn over
them), and several dozen portrait paintings whose occupants were slumbering
within their frames. This, then, was the Hogwarts Headmaster’s office, Snape
realized, but it was not Dumbledore’s office. For the room was no longer warm,
peaceful, and inviting. Instead it seemed cold, austere, oppressive. The
glittering silver telescopes and gyroscopes and other mysterious instruments
and personal objects which Snape had become accustomed to seeing in this room,
were conspicuously absent. So too was Fawkes the phoenix. Indeed, even some of
the occupants of the paintings had changed…no…wait, the paintings had been rearranged
to make room for a new addition. Albus Dumbledore himself! So, whose office
is this, now, Snape wondered?
As if in
answer to his question, Snape’s view of the room changed, and he was now facing
the desk, looking over it at the new master of this room. Himself. Almost as if
to confirm the matter, Snape watched his other self remove a small cloth from a
drawer in the desk and use it to polish a large, ostentatious brass nameplate
which read Severus S. Snape, Headmaster.
curled into a gleeful grin. “I like this mirror,” he murmured to himself. “What
a shame Dumbledore has been keeping it hidden away. I could do with one of
these in my current office.”
Snape finished polishing his nameplate and put away the cloth, then withdrew
another object from the desk and began toying with it, turning it this way and
that in the light from the candle stands and admiring it.
at his reflection in surprise. It was the Sorcerer’s Stone!
headmaster soon grew weary of playing with his most prized possession. So he
opened a desk drawer, then opened a secret compartment inside the drawer, and
shoved the stone inside. He closed the drawer with a bang and reached for a
fine raven-feather quill, then jotted a quick note to himself on his desk
calendar. In the Friday, May 13th block he wrote: Make more Elixir. The year on
the calendar, Snape was astonished to note, was 2051. And his other self looked
as though he hadn’t aged a single day in sixty years!
watched as his counterpart pawed through various enrollment and disciplinary
forms, consulted several appointment books and notes on his calendar, quilled
several boring correspondences, yawned, got up from the desk and ambled over to
the unlit fireplace where a great black cauldron sat empty, looking alone and
forlorn. Headmaster Snape gazed longingly at the cauldron for a moment, then
turned his eyes toward a row of bottles and canning jars on a cabinet on the
right side of the room. Most of the jars were coated with dust, the lids were
rusty, and the contents were impossible to see through milky glass. Some looked
as if they hadn’t been touched in over sixty years, but this did not seem to
discourage the gloomy headmaster from walking over to them and studying them
with cold, glittery eyes.
half-expected himself to retrieve several of the jars and carry them over to
the cauldron to make one or another of his favorite concoctions. Yet, as he
took a closer look over his counterpart’s shoulder and read the labels on the
jars, he realized the impossibility of doing just that. For the labels
contained not the expected names of potion ingredients. Instead they read:
James Potter – 1981. Sirius Black – 1996. Remus Lupin – 1997. Peter Pettigrew -
1997. Igor Karkaroff – 1996. Alastor Moody – 1997. Albus Dumbledore – 1996. And
there were others, many others. Some names Snape recognized, some he did not.
But of all the ones he recognized, all of them had one thing in common. They
were all people whom Snape had, at one time or another, hated enough to kill.
And perhaps, had circumstances been favorable, he would have arranged for their
observer wondered silently, is this my future, or only a possible
headmaster stared reflectively at his collection for several moments, and laid
a hand on one of the jars as if to pick it up. Then he changed his mind, turned
on his heel, and strode back to his massive ebony desk. He seated himself in
his sleek, functional chair (Snape decided that Dumbledore’s favorite purple
chintz would definitely be the first thing to go if he ever did get the
headmastership), leaned back, put his hands behind his head, and laced his
what I’m thinking about? Snape thought, watching himself savoring…or at least trying to savor
his victory. Snape thought as he watched that he looked rather bored, restless,
dissatisfied. There’s something missing from this scene, he realized.
And as if
in answer to his thoughts, his other self sat up suddenly and soundlessly
invited someone into his domain. That someone was Harry Potter, a full-grown,
gray-haired, seventy-year-old Harry Potter. Of course, Snape thought,
his eyes narrowing with hatred. The one name that ought to have been among his
collection of grudges…
Potter shuffled in slowly, head down, looking very much like a whipped
house-elf. He did not once raise his eyes as he knelt on the floor before the
desk. Snape chuckled to himself with amusement, and thought that the mirror had
now moved out of the realm of possibility and into pure fantasy. Nevertheless,
he was enjoying the ride.
the headmaster got up from his desk, spoke soundlessly, and raised a commanding
hand. Harry obediently got to his feet, accepted several papers which Snape
carelessly handed him, then turned and left without the slightest hint of
defiance or resentment. The headmaster stared at the door for several long
moments after Potter left, and as Snape watched himself, he thought it strange
that his other self should look so unhappy.
something very wrong with this picture, Snape realized. But what is it?
counterpart started to return to his desk, then changed his mind and strode
over to the window. He put a hand to the curtain as if to pull it back and
flood the room with light, then changed his mind again, and his hand fell away
from the curtain. Instead, the headmaster again turned his attention toward the
doorway to invite another visitor. Snape wondered who was going to walk into
his office this time, and gasped in shock when he saw…
just as she had looked in 1981—the last time Snape had seen her alive.
counterpart recoiled as if he had just taken a sucker-punch to the gut. He
threw up a pale spider-like hand and stumbled backward several steps until he
came up against his massive desk and could retreat no further.
at Snape’s other self accusingly for a brief moment, then stalked over to the
canning jars and carefully inspected them. The Snape who was observing did not
need to see the label in order to know which one she picked up and clasped to
her breast while tears streaked down her cheeks.
Evans…” Snape whispered softly, feeling his breath catch in his throat. He
could never think of her as Lily Potter. Never…
the jar back in its place and turned her attention not to the headmaster—who
had by now recovered his poise but seemed to have lost the ability to command
his tongue—but to the melancholy observer on the other side of the glass.
what you did,” she said soundlessly. Or was it, “I know what you want?”
those words fog rolled again across the surface of the glass, and the Hogwarts
Headmaster’s office disappeared and was replaced by a blasted, blackened shell
of a house in Godric’s Hollow, where only moments before an immaculate,
detached wizarding residence had stood, proud and defiant against the darkness
of the night sky.
whispered. “Not again. I can’t bear to watch this again…” but in spite of his
words, Snape could not seem to tear himself away from the hateful mirror. With
sick fascination he watched as one of the Death Eaters standing guard around
the perimeter drew his wand, aimed it at the sky…
thundered a voice, and the entire neighborhood became bathed in a sickly
greenish light as the Dark Mark sprang from the wand and soared into the sky,
almost instantly growing to the size and impending menace of an anvil-topped
did not return from the wreckage for several minutes. The hand-picked Death
Eater escort that stood guard around the house in order to prevent anyone
inside from escaping, began to shift restlessly from one foot to the other and
to mutter impatiently. Finally one of the Death Eaters said to the others close
to him, “Stay here, and keep watch. I will go see what is keeping His Lordship.”
broke away from the ring of evil around the house and strode into the ruins
through a front door that had been torn off its hinges, into a burned-out shell
of charred timber, of scorched plaster and paint, into the smoking debris of
human habitation. The smell was almost overwhelming. The Dark Mark gave
everything a dim, noxious, greenish cast, but had little power to penetrate the
haze and gloom which gradually engulfed Snape as he vanished into the wreckage.
resolutely lit his wand and held it before him like a torch as he searched…a
growing panic gnawing at the corners of his mind. Three people had been inside
the house when Peter Pettigrew had opened the door to the Dark Lord and then
fled in abject terror. There had been screams, shouts, crying, and sounds of
battle. Then a flash of brilliant green light—that was the signal to unfurl the
Dark Lord’s banner across the sky—then a second flash, then a third, coupled
with a tremendous explosion. And then…a profound silence. No sign of the Dark
Lord’s exit from the house. No distinctive crack of apparition. No sign, nor
sound of any survivors. No attempt by any of the victims to escape the house
that had become a deathtrap…
couldn’t be dead! No, he would not believe it! Surely she had received his
warning in time and had taken it seriously!
else to account for the third flash of light?
no…the Dark Lord was invincible.
yet…His Lordship had never tarried this long at the scene of an execution
carefully ascended a charred, crumbling staircase, leaping over several steps
that had been blasted away altogether during the duel. The walls bore numerous
patches of blistered paint and scorched wallpaper. Shards of glass from
shattered picture frames sparkled on the stairs and on the floor below. No
doubt Potter had fought bravely, if vainly. For the outcome of this desperate
struggle had been determined from the moment Lord Voldemort had crossed the
threshold of the Potters’ home.
house creaked and groaned around him, threatening to collapse at any moment as
he reached the top of the stairs and turned left. Snape passed a closet and a
bathroom before coming to an open doorway. The door was lying flat on the floor
inside the room, having been blown off its hinges by the Dark Lord’s wand.
stepped over the door and entered the room.
Maxima!” Snape whispered, and the glow of his wand intensified and filled the
room with light.
although this was where the final confrontation and the explosion seemed to
have occurred, the child’s room had taken almost no damage, as opposed to the
rest of the house. Then again, the Potters would have put the strongest charms
and defenses on this room in order to protect their son…as though it were
possible to protect anyone from the Dark Lord’s wrath.
looked over at the crib…and felt a lump form in his throat.
the foot of the child’s crib, Lily lay on her side in a crumpled, lifeless
heap. Her hair was half covering her lovely face like an auburn curtain. Her
emerald eyes were still open, but there was no light in them. With agonizing
slowness, Snape knelt down, brushed the hair back with a black-gloved hand, and
closed the lids of her lifeless eyes. As he did so, a tear slid out of one eye
and ran down his right cheek.
he whispered. “Why didn’t you flee when I warned you? Why did you stay to face
an enemy you could not defeat?”
distance there came the rapidly approaching roar of a motorcycle…a flying
motorcycle, to be precise.
Black!” Snape hissed, standing swiftly. Outside the window came cries of, “The Aurors
are coming!” and, “Where is the Dark Lord?” and, “Let his Lordship take care of
himself! Run for it!”
glanced toward the window then turned his gaze toward the crib, where he fully
expected to see the victim of the third flash of green light.
child was still alive, and silently staring at him in wide-eyed innocence…with
his mother’s eyes. On the boy’s forehead a lightning-shaped mark glowed with a
greenish hue. Lily had died to defend her son…and Snape had heard that such
self-sacrifice was the most powerful magic in existence. Perhaps even more
powerful than all the Dark Lord’s rage. Could it be that Voldemort’s curse had
backfired, had rebounded on its caster and left its target virtually unharmed?
stared back at the infant boy with pure loathing. “You’re not worth it, you
little beast!” he hissed venomously. He raised his wand threateningly, and Baby
Potter started to cry. “I ought to kill you. Oh, how I would love to finish the
Dark Lord’s work! But…you are protected now in a way that you do not have the
capacity to understand. Indeed… I wonder. I wonder if you will ever understand.
I hate you, Harry Potter. I hate you more than I have ever hated anything in my
life! I hate you…
what you have cost me. And because I cannot kill you.
Even if you
did not bear that scar…I could not kill you. Because you were hers. And
should have been mine.
mirror, Snape watched himself go into the house all over again, and watched
himself leave all over again. And a different man left the house than the one
who had entered it…a bleaker, angrier, harder man. A man who had been
determined to take what was not his, and in consequence had lost the only thing
that had ever truly mattered to him.
Mirror of Erised showed things not as they had happened, but as its observer wished
they had happened.
the house unobserved, for the Death Eaters had fled in fear when it became
clear to them that their master had abandoned them. He watched from the shadows
as Hagrid ran full-tilt up the street and plunged into the house through the
gaping front entrance. A moment later, Sirius landed his motorcycle and
disappeared into the house as well. A few agonizing moments passed. Then Hagrid
left on foot, empty-handed and crying. Sirius left in a towering rage, mounted
his motorcycle, and tore off into the night, hell-bent on revenge at any cost.
flew away, Lily came out of hiding and ran to Snape, burying her face in his
black robe and soaking his Death Eater uniform with tears. Snape clasped the
love of his life to himself with one hand and took off his white mask with the
other, but the tears in his eyes were not tears of sorrow for James Potter or
for the boy who would not have lived in this scenario. No, they were tears of
If only she
had chosen differently.
And the fog
rolled over the surface of the mirror once again, and the house went away, and
the night went away…and there was only a life-sized reflection of Lily facing
him. Lily Evans in 1981—beautiful, sophisticated, clever, compassionate,
vibrant, eternally young…the way he would always remember her. Snape longingly
raised a hand and pressed it to the surface of the glass, wishing with all his
heart that he could go right on through to the other side, into the world where
desires took form. Oh, why could he not cross that hateful plane of glass?
reached a hand up, palm forward, and seemed to rest it flat against her side of
the glass. “I know why you used Peter and your master. I know why you did it, Severus.”
were filled with a terrible sadness, and her lips moved and formed the words,
“I forgive you anyway, even if you don’t deserve it.”
lips parted in shock, his hand fell away from the glass, and he stepped back.
“No…” he whispered. “That’s not what I want!”
it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate…
anger, Snape drew his obsidian wand from the folds of his robe, trained it on
the mirror like an artillery man targeting an enemy fortification. Blind rage
welled up in him like a volcanic eruption; wrath flexed its muscles and snapped
its bonds like a djiin bursting forth from a bottle at its master’s summons. “Reducto!”
Snape thundered, breathing fury…
mirror shattered as the spell hit with the force of a mortar blast. Shards flew
everywhere, littering the floor with a million tiny slivers of reflected
darkness. Snape curled a lip in self-satisfied triumph, pocketed the wand in
one smooth motion, then pushed his oily black hair out of his face with a
steadier hand than he had expected.
dangerous, Snape reminded himself with an irritated sniff. It was the one thing
that never seemed content to stay in its bottle, in its proper place on the
shelf in his office. Therefore, it was better to destroy it than to be
destroyed by it.
that for destruction, ice…
fire, thought Snape. I will not miss you. You never gave me anything but
Dumbledore queried anxiously, striding into the storage room with a swift,
worry-driven stride that belied his age.
sincere apologies, Headmaster,” Snape said coolly in a voice that was not quite
his. “I am afraid that I have accidentally damaged your mirror while attempting
to move it to the secret chamber…as per your orders.”
studied the Potions master for a moment with a piercing look and stroked his
white-whiskered chin. “I gave no such orders, nor did I ever imply that
anyone was to attempt to move the Mirror of Erised. As I distinctly recall at
the meeting earlier this evening, I said that I would be tending to this matter
myself.” The headmaster’s light blue eyes hardened with suspicion and the
confirmation of suspicion as he continued. “Destroying this mirror serves no
purpose but to further the work of the Enemy.”
mirror was a torment and a cruel lie to all who ever looked into it, for it has
only ever shown that which we cannot have…and reminded us of all that we have
lost in vain pursuit of unattainable wishes…”
“If you had
only listened to my instructions, you would not have felt the need to destroy
the mirror. Indeed, you would have found it a joy instead of a torment,” the
elder wizard replied mildly, but his eyes lost none of their intensity.
that ssso?” Snape sneered with a sinister, menacing hiss in his voice. “Then
why is it that you could not bear to look into the mirror yourself?”
looked, and I have borne it,” Albus replied softly, and just for a moment his
eyes lost their sternness and reflected only a deep sadness. “Indeed,” the
headmaster continued, “I have borne more than you will ever know. More than you
will ever have the capacity to understand.”
also great and would suffice.
that hard to believe,” Snape retorted nastily. “Well, it is no longer a matter
worthy of reflection, now, is it?” And he walked out of the room
chuckling to himself.
watched Snape’s retreating dark form and sighed sadly as he drew his wand. “Reparo!”
he commanded calmly, and the mirror was magically, immediately mended.
all that you have witnessed, are you still so blind?” he queried softly toward
the doorway. “You will face this mirror again before the end. And I hope that
your response will be more enlightened the next time. For it will be your last
chance…and Harry’s as well.”
raised his eyes and looked into the mirror of his desires, and he saw that
Harry and Severus were standing beside him in the white halo of his aura, and
they were shaking hands and smiling. And behind them, there stood thousands and
thousands of wizards, Muggles, and magical beings from every age, and nation,
and language, and race. And there was no Darkness among them, nor sorrow, nor
anger, but only joy and love and unity in the light. And among the multitudes
were all those who had ever been taken by the Enemy: Grindelwald, Mordred, Caliban,
Rasputin, Riddle, giants, goblins, hags, vampires, centaurs…as far as the eye
turned away with tears in his eyes and thought of what he’d told Harry
Potter…and so many others who had asked. They didn’t understand. None of them
understood—not the ones who asked. And how could they?
saw it for themselves…