The Sugar Quill
Author: Seaspray  Story: A Shard of Glass  Chapter: Default
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A Shard of Glass

A Shard of Glass

 

A/N: I owe huge thank you to Suburban House Elf for a wonderfully fast and efficient last minute beta, and also to the Queens of all Awesomeness for their advice and support with this fic, especially to Dogstar for prodding me to post this on the Quill at last….

 

Hoarding things was a trait of the Smith family. His Great Aunt Hepbzibah, it was said, had kept enough trinkets to fill a museum and they still often stumbled across secret drawers and false panels containing little nests of jewellery, crockery and other magical and non magical knick knacks. His father kept every essay he had ever written at school (something Zacharias found immensely useful when it came to exam time. Even his mother, who had been the model of efficiency in all other things, had kept all the piles of old photographs in her box in her room - she never let anyone throw any away, not even the blurry unfocused snapshots which hadn't been taken properly.

As for Zacharias - well, he didn't hoard things. It made him angry to see all these pathetic piles of rubbish - empty clothes, tarnished metal, broken toys - just lying around while their owners were dead. It was like that man had said. Zach had drawn a picture for his mother when she was in hospital - it had taken him hours and he'd even performed a simple charm on it when his father wasn't looking. The letters flashed gold and green - Get Well Soon. He'd forgotten it, though, when visting hours came next day- it had stayed in his bag until the day before the funeral, when all of a sudden he'd thought of it, and dug it out of his bag. The undertaker had stopped him at the door. You know, son, nobody brings anything with them into this world, and nobody takes anything out with them. That's a fine picture. Why don't you keep it with you? And when Zacharias had seen her, later, looking so still and cold in her casket he knew the man was right. She couldn't see the drawing. She couldn't care. There wasn't any point.

That was part of the reason why Zach hadn't been up to the attic in so long. All those pointless piles of junk, kept for no reason - the only people who had ever cared for these things were dead, or had simply forgotten them. Some of them might be valuable but so what? They'd be better off selling them to someone who cared. Zach kicked at a pile of old robes lying on the floor, raising a cloud of dust. He wouldn't have bothered coming up here, except that he was curious. What did Potter want with his family history? Why was he so interested all of a sudden?

Not that he was going to help him, of course. Not unless he explained what he wanted, in person, instead of sending that Weasley girl to try and butter him up. As if. He hadn't forgotten that trick she'd played on him at the Gryffindor - Slytherin match. Still, Zacharias wondered. A cup, she'd said. And a locket. Well, it would be long gone, most of the stuff that was actually valuable had been sold by his dad, years back. Still, no harm in looking. There were lists, somewhere - under all this stuff probably - of what they had had. Zacharias tripped over a rocking horse which had had its legs smashed off and landed in a pile of old curtains. At this rate he'd end up killing himself.

"Lumos," he hissed again at his wand, which flared up and died down again but not before Zach had caught a glimpse of something promising.

"Aha!" he said, pulling towards him a box labeled: H. Smith, to be sorted. He shone his wand light inside carefully, and then recoiled. Pink. Everything was brightly, hideously pink.

"What an earth?" Zacharias said, appalled, pulling out a piece of material that lay on top. It was spattered with pink and purple polka dots and decorated with layer upon layer of frills. Zacharias let go of it very quickly. Somehow he didn't think that was what Potter was looking for.

There was a tea set underneath, decorated with rosebuds - Zacharias examined each of the cups individually and put them carefully aside. They certainly didn't seem like anything that would be of use in the fight against the Dark Lord, but you never knew. There was a music box which sounded as if the charm on it was running out, the tinkling tune sinking lower and lower down the octaves and then petering out, a couple of old parchment rolls with writing in Gobble-de-Gook and a pouchful of jewellery. Zacharias dug his hand deeper into the box, and then withdrew it with a sharp cry. There was a cut across the tip of his middle finger, the blood welling up. Zacharias sucked the wound clean and then put in his hand again, more cautiously. His hand closed around a flat object which he drew out carefully. It was triangular shaped, wrapped in a piece of cloth but one corner stuck through the protective cloth.

Zacharias unwrapped it slowly, sure, by the pricking feeling of tension in the air, that this object was powerfully magical. It slid out onto his palm, a bright silver that seemed to shine almost painfully brightly in the dim attic. For a short moment Zacharias saw his own face reflected in it, then the image changed.

Zacharias sat a long time in the dark, forgetful of his task, focusing only on the broken mirror shard.

"Father," Zacharias asked later at dinner.

"Yes?" Jonas Smith grunted from behind his newspaper. He didn't like to be disturbed at meal times.

"I was in the attic today. I found a piece of - of glass. I thought it might be enchanted."

"Oh? Enchanted how?" His father had looked up from his newspaper now.

"I don't know," Zacharias said, uncomfortably. He didn't feel like telling his father what he'd seen, somehow. "I just thought it was."

Jonas had lost interest now, his eyes back on the Daily Prophet. "Best to leave it alone if you think it might be enchanted. Ask one of the house-elves to look at it for you." And he rustled the pages of his newspaper to show he was busy and didn't want to be asked any more questions. Zacharias scowled, and pushed away his plate. He didn't feel like eating anyway.

He found Dorry in the laundry room, ironing shirts. She was very careful, twitching the clothes into place with a stick and a hook, so as not to touch them with her bare skin. "Dorry," he said. "I was in the attic today."

"Young master shouldn't be going up there," Dorry said reproachfully. "He will give himself the sneezes."

"A- a friend of mine asked me to look for something." It stuck in his throat to call Ginny Weasley a friend, but it made things simpler.

"Oh?"

"They asked about my Great Aunt Hepzibah. About a locket and a cup. I thought  you might know..."

"Oh, yes." Dorry nodded. "Old Misses Hepzibah's things. Well, you won't be finding those things in the attic, Master Zacharias. They been stolen."

"Stolen?"

"Disappeared after she died and never came back. Not that they'll be much good to a thief," Dorry said in a satisfied voice.

"Why not?"

"Well, that cup was a Smith family heirloom, see. It had charms that even the strongest wizard couldn't break."

"Like?"

"I could burn the lips of any who tried to drink from it, unless they were a Smith, so that they'd never be able to put food to their lips again. And it would only rest still in a box made of wood from Smith orchards."

Zacharias digested this. Was that the kind of thing Potter and his gang would want to know? Zacharias had hoped he'd have some sort of information that would leave him one up on Potter and his lot - after all they were always so picky about sharing their information with everyone else.

Zacharias wondered if he dared ask Dorry about what he really wanted to know. It didn't feel right somehow asking about the mirror from a house elf - it was too personal, somehow, too private. But Dorry was looking at him askance, as if wondering why he didn't just go and leave her to her ironing. It was now or never.

"Dorry," he said, as casually as he could. "I, er, did find something- in Aunt Hepzibah's things. It was broken but - I found a mirror." Zach looked down at the floor.

Dorry hissed loudly. "Dorry is a careless house-elf  and her finger slips and now she burns herself. Bad Dorry!" the elf's voice was more high-pitched than normal, as if she were in great distress.

Zacharias watched her flapping her finger around agitatedly. "Perhaps you should run it under the tap."

"No, no, I have ironing to do, I don't have time for taps and questions, questions and taps." She waved her arms to dismiss him looking almost angry.

Zach didn't move. "I have to know what that mirror is."

"Master should leave it where it belongs!" Dorry shook her head. "Master shouldn't worry about things that are long past."

"But what is it? Is it enchanted? I looked in it and I saw things - things that couldn't be real. Why did it do that?"

The house-elf puckered her cheeks and said nothing.

"Dorry? I order you to tell me!"

"You shouldn't have looked, Master! Your Great Uncle..."

"What? What about my Great Uncle?"

"Master Hezekiah caught a glimpse of himself in Erised and then he had to have it. Paid a near fortune to get hold of even the smallest shard of an Erised mirror and then he nearly wasted away with looking only at it. Misses Hepzibah, she was so worried about him. 'Tis a wicked thing that mirror. Wicked!" She shook her head.

"But what does it do?"

Dorry turned her wrinkled old face towards him, her eyes sharp. "It shows your heart's desire, that's what it does, and then it eats away at you unless you have the sense to break free of it. A wicked thing, I'm telling you!"

 

***

 

Tap, tap, tap.

Zacharias started. He had almost forgotten where he was, sitting there with the mirror in his lap. He'd only meant to take a quick peep. Just to see if what Dorry had told him could be right. His heart's desire. Was it really?

Tap, tap, tap.

It was an owl, half slumped on his windowsill and knocking to get in. Zach went to open the window and the owl collapsed on the floor in front of him, feathers dropping all over the carpet. Zacharias looked at it in disgust. What a mangy old bird. He untied the letter fixed to his foot.

To Zacharias Smith,

Sorry to bother you at home and all that but I need to know if you found any more about the thing I was talking to you about in the DA last week. I wouldn't ask but it's really important.

Yours Sincerely,

Ginny Weasley

Zacharias snorted and tossed the letter into the bin. She'd have to try harder if she thought he was just going to roll over and fetch for her. He took a piece of paper and scribbled on it. Tell him to ask for himself if he wants to know. Then he went back to the mirror.

"I made Master a hot drink,” Dorry said tentatively, creeping into the room. It had been their custom, since Mrs Smith had died, for Dorry to bring Zach something to drink in the evenings. He supposed it was her way of being sympathetic. She was very forward for a house-elf.

"Just put it on the table." Zach didn't move.

Dorry looked at him sorrowfully. "I told master he should get rid of that mirror. He will be hurting himself."

"In a minute. I just want to look a bit longer."

Dorry shook her head. "That is just what your uncle said,"

"How do you know all this stuff anyway?" Zacharias said irritably, putting the glass down. "You aren't that old."

"I was told by my mother, and she was told by the house-elf before her - Hokey." Dorry gave a shudder. "She was a bad house-elf, very bad. But she kept the family secrets and passed them on, as is a house-elf's duty."

"So you've always known about this mirror? Didn't you ever want to take a look?"

Dorry smiled kindly. "Oh no, Master Zacharias, house elfs is not having heart's desires. It is not our place." There was something in Dorry's eyes almost like pity.

Zacharias scowled and turned his face to the wall. Bloody house-elves  and their bloody place. They never stopped going on about it.

Zacharias passed an uncomfortable night. He kept tossing and turning, unable to relax and his mind went over and over what he had seen in the mirror. In the end he got up, lit his wand again to look once more in the mirror. His mother smiled at him, that firm slow smile that told him he had done really well, as he passed the picture into his hands. He could see the paint glittering Get Well Soon. Except in the picture, she didn't look sick

"Smith?"

Zacharias jumped , his fingers tightening unconsciously around the mirror.

"Who's there?"

Someone muttered something and candles re-lit themselves. A boy stood in the doorway, head tilted to one side, watching him.

"I got your note." He held up the piece of parchment with Zach's note scribbled on it.

"How did you get in?" Zacharias hissed. Bloody Potter - so bloody arrogant walking into someone else's house.

"Pretty easily. You ought to do something about your security spells."

Zacharias spluttered.

"So, did you get the information? Ginny wasn't lying, you know, it is important." He sounded irritated.

"But you won't tell me why?"

Harry looked at him coldly. "I can't. Now just tell me."

Zacharias noted with trepidation that he had his wand in his hand. "It isn't fair," he said sullenly. "You can't just walk in here and tell me what to do. Who put you in charge anyway?"

"Voldemort." Potter pointed at his scar. "Remember? I'm the Boy Who Lived and, you know, I didn't ask for it, but somehow I've got to defeat Voldemort and I'd really appreciate not having to play anymore stupid games."

He leaned forward angrily and Zacharias noticed for the first time how much thinner he seemed to be then when he last saw him, and how much paler.

"But - but how do I know?" he said.

"What?"

"How do I know I'm doing the right thing helping you if I don't know what I'm doing?"

Potter's face softened just a little. "I guess you don't," he said. "If all I've done in this fight so far isn't enough to tell you whether or not you can trust me, then I guess, you don't."

"It's not you so much," said Zacharias. "It's your friends. Those Weasley twins were always on at me every time I asked a simple question and then your girlfriend kept attacking me for no reason..."

Something flashed in Potter's face for a moment but it was gone before Zach could interpret the look.

"She isn't my girlfriend," he said. "And they aren't here. It's me you have to trust, Smith. I need to know."

Zacharias drew in a long breath. He supposed it was as near to an apology as he was going to get. "All right," he said "I was going to tell you anyway - I just wanted you to know - I wasn't just playing games. I needed to know."

"Right," Potter said impatiently. "So?"

A little hesitantly, Zacharias told him all he knew. Potter listened attentively and nodded his head at the end.

"Will that help?" Zacharias asked.

"It might," said Potter. “I have to speak to Hermione about that wood thing - she might know a way of tracking the cup through that. I don't know. Anyway - thanks."

"No problem," said Zach, feeling a little happier. Somewhere beneath them they heard a door click.

"I'd better go," Potter said abruptly. "I've left my broomstick outside. You - er - won't tell anyone about this, will you?"

Zacharias shook his head.

"Good." Potter paused. "What's that on your hand?" he said suddenly.

"Oh, that - I cut myself - it's nothing." Zacharias couldn't help glancing at the mirror as he said this and Potter followed his gaze. In two paces he was by Zacharias' bed and holding the mirror up to the light. There was a long silence.

"Where did you get this?" Potter asked.

"In the attic." Zacharias said, sullenly. He didn't think Potter had any right to pry into his buisness, especially since Potter so emphatically refused to tell Zacharias anything about himself.

"It's... it's an Erised mirror. I didn't know there was more than one."

"Well, there is." said Zacharias. "And this one's mine."

"It's changed," said Harry quietly. "I can see... it's the end of the war. And everyone's safe. And - " he stopped suddenly, putting down the mirror. "You should get rid of it, you know." He threw the mirror down on the bed. "You can become obsessed with it."

Zacharias shifted uncomfortably. Why did everyone keep telling him that?

Harry looked at him keenly, as if he'd never seen him before. "I mean it, you know. You should get rid of the mirror."

"It's none of your business," Zacharias said harshly.

Potter opened his mouth as if to say something and then seemed to change his mind. "Fine," he said "I have to go."

"I saw my mother in it," Zacharias blurted out suddenly. He didn't know why he was telling Potter this except suddenly he felt he didn't want the other boy to leave without understanding first.

Potter turned to look at him. Suddenly Zacharias felt embarrassed to have admitted to such a childish desire. What a stupid thing to want.

"I saw my mother too," Potter said quietly. "The first time I looked in the mirror. And my father, and all my family. I didn't want to ever leave that mirror. I didn't want to do anything except - look. But Dumbledore spoke to me, he said - that you mustn't dwell on dreams and - forget to live."

Zacharias thought of the afternoon spent staring into that mirror. He could spend the rest of his life looking at that image. And leave all the fighting to be done by Potter and his lot. He could see the wisdom in what Dorry had said - that mirror was dangerous.

"Ginny, and the others - I know you don't like her -" Harry said seeing the expression of Zacharias' face. "But they're doing something good with the DA this year - you could help them, you know."

"Well," Zacharias admitted. "Perhaps I could. Just so that you Gryffindors don't hog all the glory."

Potter grinned suddenly, and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good," he said, and got up. "Now I really have to go. See you later then, mate."

Zacharias sat a long while in the dark thinking over what Harry Potter had said, and turning the mirror shard over and over in his fingers. In the end, he got up, wrapped the mirror back in its cloth and tip toed out side into his garden. It was in the apple orchard he found the perfect spot and he dug a little hole and placed the mirror shard inside. Because, after all, whatever else he might be Zacharias Smith was not a hoarder.

 

 

//
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