Disclaimer: ‘Taint mine. It’s WB’s/JKR’s. No money, don’t sue.
A/N: With gratitude and virtual cookies, as always, to Zsenya.
Took a trip to Islands of Adventure in Orlando about a week ago. We
sitting in a restaurant for lunch with paper bag stuff covering the
so we could draw on them. I was in an odd sort of mood, and I wrote
first sentence in crayon. And then one thing piled on another, and I
to switch to pen.
Blame the paper bag. ::grin::
One day you’re going to have to face the deep dark truthful
Once upon a midnight dreary, Albus Dumbledore sat in his office
to the rain coming down. On most nights, Hogwarts was a comfort to
– the great familiar sbulk always standing firm, no matter how
changed. But on some nights, the castle was very forbidding – it
one feel infinitesimal. Insignificant.
This was one of those nights.
He put down his quill, deciding to forgo the rest of his
He did not feel like working. He left his office and locked it,
his password in place.
He went down the corridor, aiming for the room where he had
the Mirror of Erised after young Mr. Potter had used it to retrieve
Philosopher’s Stone. He remembered his words to Mr. Potter when the
asked him what he saw in the mirror – socks, indeed. It was the
thing that had come to him, other than the truth, of course. Socks
nice, yes – especially the blue and gold Puddlemere United pair he
that was woven from kneazle fur – but socks were most emphatically
what he saw when he looked in the Mirror.
He did not like to remember certain events – that was what he had
that blasted Pensieve for, after all – but some things needed
He had committed many of his fondest memories to the Pensieve so he
view them when things got bad, but he had discovered that the
lost their personal luster when viewed through the thing. They lost
feelings that had accompanied them. And with some memories, that
was too high to pay. For example, one of the ones he had kept was a
of himself and sister Alyce dancing around the Pater Quercus, the
oak tree at Weathervane. When he had trouble sleeping, as he often
he would sink himself into the memory, and the sweet treble laughter
the two of them as children would lull him into a relatively
And then there were the nights when nothing worked – not even
Those were the nights when he went to the Mirror. Albus knew that it
dangerous, but he was extraordinarily careful. He only went in
like this – he had had very little sleep over the past two weeks,
he couldn’t put any of this in the Pensieve.
Some things needed remembering.
Some things were best kept private.
He slipped through the hallways, silently opening and closing
Why he bothered with all the secrecy, he didn’t know. It wasn’t as
anyone would challenge him in the halls – being Headmaster
had its perks. It also had its disadvantages: getting comfort from
illusion did not exactly lend credence to his authority. And the
twinges of shame he always felt before one of these jaunts never
His hand trembled slightly as he opened the door. And there,
by moonlight under a window, sat the Mirror in all its quietly
He approached it warily, being careful to stay to one side of it
he did not see his reflection. And he stopped just to the side of
standing tall, but feeling very, very unsure.
As he always did before he stepped in front of the Mirror, he said
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
His inner voice countered, Are you sure you need to do
He was sure.
And with a deep breath, he closed his eyes and took a step to the
When he opened his eyes, he saw himself as one normally would in
mirror. But standing to his right was a tall, dark-haired young man
hands with a slight young woman. They were both smiling at him, and
Theron put his other arm around his father. Albus closed his eyes
– he knew his son’s arm wasn’t really there, but it almost felt like
Knowing that he had to open his eyes just once more, he did so. It
He saw Mariana.
She slipped her small hand in his, and he automatically flexed his
She looked so nearly like she had they day they met so many years
– raven-haired, dark-eyed, and with a shy, sweet smile that belied
fiery spirit. A few more lines, yes, a few silver threads shining
the black, but she was essentially how she had been before she had
The day she entered that room at St. Mungo’s was easily one of the
days of his life. They both knew that she would not be leaving.
was ten at the time and was spending the day with Alyce at
He recalled walking beside her, ever vigilant in case she should
With the aid of a walking stick, she made her way slowly down the
So slowly. Independent as ever, she refused to let anyone help her
slink into her room in a chair.
He remembered opening the door for her and following her in,
down her valises. His first reaction to that room was one of strong
– white walls, white bed, white chairs. It was cloyingly
She stood in the middle of the room, looking about as tired and
as he felt. And then she seemed to steel herself, and she said,
we’ll just have to do something about the interior décor, won’t we?”
smiled at him.
And he laughed – a release.
And for the next two hours, she had him taking the contents of the
and putting them all over the room. Photographs, paintings, even a
or two. Her radio sat beside her bed, and she egged him into setting
her small bookshelf. She commanded her small domain from her bed –
deathbed. And when it was all over, and things were arranged to her
she looked up at him with eyes that had never lost their depth and
with infinite love, “Albus, it’s all right.”
He looked at her. Looked at her steadily deteriorating self and
disintegrated for the love of her and grief for her.
He raised his head and said to the reflection of his wife, “Is it
right, Mariana? Is it?”
The reflection smiled at him.
And then, as always happened at this point in his visits to the
he began to feel blessedly drowsy.
He always thought the next part was in his mind, but he swore he
her lips move. Or would have sworn to anyone who might have known
his small journeys every few months.
Her reflection said, “Go to sleep, Albus.” She smiled again. “I
He whispered, “And likewise, my dear.”
And with one last look at the Theron who had had the chance to grow
the Minerva who smiled more often, and the Mariana that would have
he closed his eyes and turned his back on the Mirror of Erised.
Without stopping, he left the room and went straight to his
As he closed the door, he let out a deep sigh. Fawkes, who had been
by the noise, let out one liquid, inquisitive note, and he smiled.
all right, old fellow.”
Fawkes settled into his feathers and went back to sleep.
And Albus Dumbledore followed suit, his elusive sleep having been
for him once more by an illusion. The dreary midnight was
the not-quite-Patronus reigned for the night.
And Hogwarts stood, a strong fortress in the rain.