Our Buried Life by the mystery tramp

Summary: ** Winner, a tie, of Best Angst in the “First Week” Challenge **
She felt as though she were sailing through a dream, gliding along amongst the ghost lights of the boats, the water sloshing loud against the wooden sides. A dream she’d dreamt a thousand times—the day she would finally arrive here, the day she would reach this heaven she’d heard so much about—and there it was.
Rating: PG-13 starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Alternate Universe, First Week Challenge (2008-2)
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2008.04.05
Updated: 2008.04.28


Chapter 1: PART ONE
Chapter 2: PART TWO

Chapter 1: PART ONE

“Our Buried Life”
a story in two parts
by the mystery tramp


There was a fog around the castle as the boats crossed the lake, a strange, thick fog that appeared to stand perfectly still in the gusty blackness of the night. Rocking slightly more than she would have liked, Ginny Weasley sat in her boat and looked out at the towers and turrets that were all she could see of the castle–the castle she’d longed so long to see–towers blurry like written words obscured beneath tears.

She felt as though she were sailing through a dream, gliding along amongst the ghost lights of the boats, the water sloshing loud against the wooden sides. A dream she’d dreamt a thousand times–the day she would finally arrive here, the day she would reach this heaven she’d heard so much about–

And there it was.

They had come close enough now that she could see the castle itself behind the fog, could see a thousand dancing specks of light, candles in all the windows. It was just as she’d always imagined it, and yet somehow not the same at all–more real, of course, but something else as well. Or perhaps it was Ginny who was different–yes, that wasn’t much of a surprise. Everyone was different these days. Everyone had been different for months now.

But indeed, there was something almost melancholy in the sight of the castle, not at all the infinite joy that Ginny had always imagined. Something dark and mysterious lay ahead of her, she felt–felt deep within–the deepest she’d felt since the day the world fell apart.

* * *

The sky was grey, the clouds just barely spitting upon the checkered battlefield below. Ron Weasley sat high upon his horse, its ebony fur heavy with streaks of rain and blood. The field was filled with soldiers and horses–the shrill music of clashing swords–the sanguine dance of war.

His throat was sore, so that it hurt to breathe in the cold air–the battle was going badly.

His king was safe as yet, but the outlook was deteriorating sharply. They had lost too many men–they needed to force a victory soon, if they were going to claim one at all.

Another horse shrieked in the distance as its rider was slaughtered from its back, and Ron saw it: if he could charge forward in just the proper way, he could clear a path for his king to attack the enemy–he could clear a path to victory.

At once, he charged, mindless to the risk of sacrifice, mindless to anything but opening the way for his king. And suddenly he was there, and he swung his sword with every ounce of his strength, swung it with his very soul, and he felt that human resistance upon its blade, and he swung it once again as the first body fell. It lasted perhaps five seconds in total, but it was enough–the way was already clear as he felt steel pierce his side.

He fell from his horse to the miry ground, sure that pain should have been soaring through his body, but he couldn’t feel it. He was sure that there must have been blood everywhere, but he couldn’t see it–all that mattered was his king.

He lifted his gaze back to the battle to see his king charging through the opening to attack the enemy king–Ron couldn’t breathe as he watched–closer, closer and closer still–and just as his king lifted his sword to strike, the other king spun around in a flash that nearly stopped Ron’s heart–the enemy’s sword shone with some unseen sunlight as it swung through its curve–and it cut straight through Ron’s king with a harsh finality.

He fell, slow, from his horse as the enemy raised his sword into the air in victory, and Ron began to feel the pain in his side from his own wound, looked down to see the blood pouring everywhere, and relished in it. He had failed. He had failed, and his king was dead.

The sky was grey, but the world was crimson.

* * *

Ginny Weasley breathed a deep breath, sighed a deep sigh, and closed her eyes tight. It was almost unreal, the lot of it, just barely anchored to the realm of reality through the unmistakably palpable, undeniably tangible, indescribably real feeling of the smooth bedspread of the four-poster beneath her body. That bedspread was so foreign to her, so very not lumpy, so very not her own. And yet, for the next seven years, it would be hers.

She was at Hogwarts now.

Ginny tried to keep her eyes closed, to fall fast asleep so that she would be properly alive for her first day of lessons, but sleep seemed such a waste of time, such a futile pursuit what with everything just past those crimson curtains, just out of reach. Her heart was racing with thoughts of secret passageways, of ancient hiding-places she alone might discover, of the millions of fairy-tale mysteries that the old castle surely held for her, her new home, her storybook wonderland.

...and of course–buried deep down inside where she didn’t like to go–there was a darker, more dangerous hunger for mystery and magic than the fairy-tale yearnings of her youth... Deep down, she felt a pull towards the riddle of what happened last June–the day that Ron had hidden inside himself–the day the world grew shadowed.

Convincing herself that she was acting not because of that day, but from the innocent longing for exploration she’d held her whole, Ginny sprang up in her bed, carefully pulled aside her curtains and slipped out between them, slipped on her dressing gown, slipped on her slippers, and slipped down into the common room.

The room was enormous to her, having only seen it once before. She’d heard it mentioned so many times over the years by her brothers–always matter-of-factly, of course, for to them it was only the common room, to them it lived up to its name–that it had become this almost mythic location in her thoughts, this perfectly practical, perfectly perfunctory place. To be standing in the room itself–now, after all the times it had been spoken of off-hand by each of her brothers–only intensified the same epic dream-feeling with which Ginny had been walking around all day.

She breathed in the scent of the dead fire for a moment, breathed it deep into her lungs, and attempted to take everything else in along with it–the heavy-hanging tapestries, the dozing portraits of wizened old wizards, and the bits of timeworn stone that they didn’t quite manage to obscure. She took in everything around her, and when the sights were no longer enough, she began to feel–she ran her hand along the velvety back of one of a chair, slipped out of her slippers and slid her bare feet across the luxurious carpet, old and soft and rough at the same time.

This was Hogwarts. At last. At last–at last she could live out her own adventures like those her brothers had boasted of–at last she could explore the ancient corners and crevices for secrets–at last she could...


Her eyes flew open without having closed–for she hadn’t heard that voice for months. It was immediately familiar, of course, but its sudden appearance after such a long absence startled her.


Ginny scanned the dark common room for the source of the voice, and finally spotted her brother, seated by the lifeless fire. Her heart skipped a beat, to see him looking strangely alive.

“Ron–Ron, you’re–”

“I know,” he said, and there was a coldness in his voice. He looked over her shoulder at the staircases, and then back at her. “Sit down, Gin, will you?”

Ginny did as he asked, and then started in on him immediately:

“Ron, what’s been wrong with you? You haven’t spoken to any of us in–”

“I know I haven’t, Gin, you don’t have to tell me.”

Ginny swallowed; she was unaccustomed to the harshness in his voice.

“OK,” she said. And she waited for him to explain. It took him a long time to speak again–Ginny could hear her own breath, abnormally loud, as she waited for him to speak once again. Finally, he began:

“I think it’s being back here that did it,” said Ron, and he didn’t look at her as he spoke, but at the barely-glowing embers in the fireplace. “It was like, everything happened and then next thing I knew it was summer and I was back home, and it was like none of it had been real.”

“But what happened?” she said. “What was it that happened that made you stop... made you stop talk talking?”

“You already know what happened,” he said, breaking into the silence again after another long wait. “I mean, everybody knows, all over the world–the Stone, and You-Know-Who and why Dumbledore got sacked–how everybody says it’s his fault–that’s bloody stupid, Dumbledore did everything you could imagine to protect it...”

He trailed off for a few moments, and then continued.

“It was our fault, all of it. Me and Hermione. We let him go alone...”

Ginny took a breath, and realized how cold it felt in the common room. Then:

“But you didn’t let–him–go alone... you were there–”

Ron shook his head violently. “We went down with him, but he was alone at the end. There was this... this chess game, you must’ve heard about it, that Skeeter woman wrote that bloody article about everything Dumbledore put down there–”

“Yes, I read it–”

“Well there was this chess game. And me being the bloody idiot that I am, I figured I’d play it like I always play it, you know, sacrifice the smaller pieces to bump off the bigger ones–and I sacrificed myself so they could go on. I’ve been thinking about it over and over again, I’ve been dreaming about it, for months, and there must’ve been another way. I could’ve stayed, and we could’ve all went on together, and he wouldn’t have been alone, and–and he wouldn’t have–”

His voice cracked slightly–from sudden use after so long a silence–or perhaps from something else entirely.

Ginny didn’t know what to say, and Ron seemed to have used up all his words, so she just put an arm around him and rubbed his back–like he used to do when she’d had a bad dream in the middle of the night, when she’d tip-toe up to his room at the Burrow with tears on her face–and he leaned into her hand.

“It’s... it’s all right, Ron,” she said, feeling more than a bit peculiar to be comforting her big brother this way.

He shook his head again, but remained silent except for a slight sniffle, and shifted slightly on the couch to move closer to his sister. Ginny noticed that he seemed to be holding something tightly to his chest–something silvery, that was poking out from beneath his folded arms. He was holding onto it for dear life, and now that she saw it, she was almost sure that she’d seen it before, on the few occasions that he’d been out of his room during the summer. What was it, she wondered?

She continued to rub his back, and he continued to sniffle softly, but neither of them spoke any more. After a long time, the sniffling subsided into an even sort of breathing, and then into the familiar snore she’d so often tormented him about when they were younger. He was asleep–and as soon as she knew it for sure, she ceased her rubbing and shifted to look at the strange silvery something in his arms.

She fingered the bit of loose material she had access to–it was unbelievably silky, smooth, and just breathtaking against her fingers–almost like a liquid.

Furrowing her brow, she thought, It couldn’t be...

Watching Ron’s sleeping face, she carefully lifted his arms away from the material, and pulled it out, slowly, slowly, and then she had it–it was larger than she’d expected, big enough to cover maybe three people at once.

There was no mistaking what it was, and Ginny swallowed–her heart was beating faster than felt healthy as she laid the silver cloth across her arm, which vanished before her eyes.

It is.

At once, without even a spare thought to the possible consequences, Ginny threw the Cloak over her head, exhilarated by the feel of it against her skin, the knowledge of her newfound freedom, and headed for the portrait hole.

This was his, she thought. And though no one had ever mentioned an Invisibility Cloak in all of the stories–and Ron had certainly never written home about it in any of his letters–there was simply no other explanation. Where else would Ron have gotten ahold of it? No–it must have been true: this Cloak belonged to Harry Potter.

And that, too, exhilarated her, perhaps more than it should have.

She stepped into the corridor, treading as lightly as she could, and felt alive for perhaps the first time in her life. She heard the snores of the Fat Lady’s portrait, and swung it carefully shut behind her–the Lady herself being otherwise occupied.

And then Ginny turned around, and looked down the corridor, feeling exquisitely anxious. She’d only been through in the corridors once, on the way from the Feast to Gryffindor Tower, and had absolutely no idea where she was going–she only knew that she was going, wherever her footsteps and the beat of her heart might take her.

Again, that dark desire began to brim deep within her–enraged by the chance discovery of this Invisibility Cloak–to discover something, anything about the mystery of that night in June–the night the articles started appearing in the Daily Prophet blaming Professor Dumbledore for allowing You-Know-Who to steal the Philosopher’s Stone–the night her parents started whispering to each other in worried tones when they thought she wasn’t listening–the night the wizarding world lost its savior, and she lost her dream.

She was thinking of that dark desire as she walked along the seventh floor corridor, but when she reached the end, and came to the stairwell, she heard a loud CRASH from the floor below her, and her eyes widened: there was someone else awake. What would they do to her if she was caught, out alone on her first night in the school?

Forgetting for a moment that she was wearing the Cloak, she turned back and began to run back the other way, trying to tread as lightly as she could, but there was another CRASH, and another, and another, and then a loud, cackling laugh–as though there were someone following below, knocking over suits of armor along the way.

She reached the portrait hole and the utterly terrifying sight of the Fat Lady snoozing calmly in her frame–it had not occurred to her for a moment that she would not be able to get back into the common room.

Her heart racing, she began to run back the other way, and the cackling continued below her, and she hadn’t the slightest idea what she was going to do–could she wait out here all night, hiding beneath the cloak until the Fat Lady woke up, and hope that no one found her? That sounded positively horrid–this was hardly the magical adventure she’d been hoping for when she left the common room, hardly the exciting quest for answers to the mystery of last June...

And suddenly, to Ginny’s complete and total astonishment, a door appeared from absolutely nowhere on the wall of the corridor, fading into existence before her very eyes. She merely stared at it for a moment, utterly perplexed.

Then the loudest cackle of all sounded, much closer than before, and she glanced down the corridor to see a brightly dressed little man pop out of the floor and begin bouncing around and knocking into things. This must have been Peeves the Poltergeist, and as all the stories she’d heard of Peeves ran through her mind, she quickly opened the mysterious door and slipped inside without another moment of hesitation.

Fittingly enough, the mysterious door led to a room that was the perfect image of mystery: it was dark and full of shadows, which seemed to slide and deform into various shapes without the need for any source of light at all. Ginny let the Invisibility Cloak drop to the floor, for she felt she was safe now, and it was only serving to obscure her vision further in the dim light.

Ginny looked around: the chamber was lined in mirrors, a million of them perhaps, mirrors of all shapes and sizes, a bona-fide carnival fun-house of a room, and as Ginny walked, a thousand more Ginnys walked along with her.

In the very center of the shadowy room stood the tallest and most magnificent mirror of them all, and as Ginny walked closer to it, with each step, the shadow beneath the mirror grew longer and longer, as though it longed to reach out and pull her in.

Finally, Ginny stood just in front of the mirror–looked into its glass–and nearly fell over.

For it was not her reflection that she saw in this mirror–perhaps her own reflections had all been used up by the mirrors on the walls?–but his. It was not her that stood there before her–but him.


Harry Potter.

Ginny’s mouth fell open and she blinked several times. How many times had she looked upon this boy’s picture, how many times had she stared into those eyes and wished she could really see them, close up?

She dashed up in a flash and pressed her face against the glass, her brown eyes only a few inches away from his emerald ones–and she could have stared at them–into them–forever, if only he had let her.

For before she knew what had happened, Harry Potter stepped away from the mirror–so that he was not standing where her own reflection should have been, but farther back. She followed suit, and looked at him questioningly.

He opened his mouth, and closed it again, over and over–and it was clear that he was trying to speak, but she could not hear the words.

She shrugged her shoulders hopelessly, trying to tell him, I don’t understand.

He frowned–not just a frown, but an utter defeated expression that encompassed his entire face.

And then he closed his eyes, and seemed to be concentrating hard for a moment, and suddenly a book appeared in his hands. He grinned, and opened it, and started to write something with a pen that had popped into existence along with the book. When he was finished, he walked close again and pressed the page against the glass.

HELP ME, he had written, and she was somewhat surprised to see the words were not backward.

How on earth could she help him? She longed for nothing more in the whole wide world than to be able to help him, but there seemed to be just no possible way that she could–

And she felt a weight in her hands.

She looked down and saw the book, and the pen, just as though they had been in her own hands the whole time. She looked quickly from them to Harry and back again, and grinned–Harry grinned as well, but his grin was somehow more powerful, she thought–recklessly joyous, somehow. He still held his own copy of the book, and was looking down into it, eager for her reply.

She opened her book, and below his two words, she wrote her own:

I’ll try.

* * *

The sky was black, unseen clouds pouring buckets of rain down upon the roof of the Burrow–pit-pit-pit-pit–as Ron lay in his bed staring at the shadows on the ceiling as they moved across the plaster.

Lightning flashed in through the window–illuminating the room like daylight for just a split second–and a few moments later, thunder rolled in after it. Ron shivered slightly, for he’d never been a fan of thunderstorms, alone up here at the top of the tall house.

But then he wasn’t alone at all, for his bedroom door swung slowly open with a creak and there stood a little red-haired girl in a nightdress, tears streaking down her face, her lip trembling visibly, even from across the room.

Ron propped himself up in bed, standing the pillows upright against the headboard, and called Ginny over with a wave of his hand.

“C’mere, Gin,” he said, and for all the discomfort he felt in the thunderstorm, none of it showed in his voice. She scuttled to the bed as quick as a flash of lightning, her bare feet pattering upon the wooden floor like the rain on the roof. She leapt up onto the bed next to him, burying her legs beneath the covers and burrowing against her brother.

“I had a bad dream,” she whispered. “And then I woke up and it was thunder-and-lightninging, and I was scared.”

He rubbed her back calmingly, soothingly, and said: “S’OK, Gin, it’s just a bit of rain.”

Another flash of lightning flickered in the distance, lighting up their faces and making the tears shine on Ginny’s face, all for just a second. Another roll of thunder.

“I just don’t like it,” she said. “I can’t sleep when it’s thunder-and-lightninging out... I’m afraid I’ll have the bad dream again.”

“D’you want to tell me about it?” asked Ron. “The dream?”

She nodded vigorously against him, but didn’t say anything for awhile. Finally, she sat up against the pillow–with his hand still on her back, of course–and began to talk about her dream.

“I dreamt I was at Hogwarts with Bill and Charlie,” she began, “and they were taking me through all these secret passageways and we were having an adventure and it was all really good... but then Bill and Charlie were gone, and I was lost, and I couldn’t find my way out. And then I was outside, but I was still lost, and it was dark out, and it started thunder-and-lightninging, and I got struck by lightning and then I woke up and it really was, and it was horrible.”

She’d barely stopped to breathe the whole time she was describing the bad part of the dream, and so when she finished, she was out of breath. Ron massaged her back more forcefully, yet still calm, soothing, until she was breathing evenly again.

“You’re not going to get struck by lightning,” said Ron. “D’you know how far away that lightning is?”

Ginny shook her head.

“Well, when it lightnings again, we can count as many seconds as we can before the thunder. For every five seconds it takes to thunder, that’s a whole mile away.”

“Really? I didn’t know that’s the way it worked,” said Ginny, furrowing her brow. “How do
you know?”

“Fred and George,” he said. And he grinned at her: “And don’t worry, they weren’t fooling–Fred and George used to be dead afraid of thunderstorms when they were little.”

Ginny grinned the widest grin in the world–almost conspiratorial. “Really?”

Ron nodded, and just then, a flash of lightning lit up the room once again.

Ginny gasped, and hurriedly began to count:

“One one-thousand, two one-thousand....”

Ron joined in and counted along with her:

“Three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five one-thousand,”–Ginny’s eyes lit up as they reached a mile–“six one-thousand, seven one-thousand, eight one-thousand, nine one-thousand, ten–”

The thunder clapped above their heads, cutting them off before they could finish the number.

“There, you see, Gin?” said Ron. “That lightning is almost two whole miles away. You’re perfectly safe.”

Ginny grinned once again, and said, “Of course I’m safe. I’m always safe when I’m up here with you.” And she hugged him around the middle and, before long, began to drift off to sleep. Ron smiled.

The sky was black, but the world was golden.

* * *

Ginny could barely keep her mind on her first day of classes–the only sleep she’d gotten she managed only by skipping breakfast–and throughout the day, as she struggled to copy down notes for each of her teachers, all she could think of was how much she’d rather be writing to Harry.

They had written back and forth a few times already, and during Potions class–which she had with the Ravenclaws–she decided to reread what they’d written while Luna Lovegood watched over their cauldron.

After her I’ll try, Ginny had scribbled, although I really have no idea what good I can do.

Harry had said: I’m sure you’ll be great, and she’d smiled so wide.

She didn’t really have anything to say to that, so instead, she asked what she’d longed to know from the start: So... what happened?

And he’d said he wasn’t sure.

I’d gotten the Philosopher’s Stone out of the mirror, and Voldemort–Ginny winced as she read the name–got it from me somehow, and it was over, everything, he’d won. And then he was going to kill me, he was pointing his wand at me and about to curse me and I just saw the mirror and the next thing I knew I was IN the mirror, and I was looking at him from the inside. And I’ve been stuck in here ever since.

And Ginny hadn’t known what to write back to that.

“What are you reading?”

Ginny jerked her head up from the book and looked at Luna Lovegood, who was peering at her with a bored-yet-curious look upon her face.

“Oh–nothing, Luna,” said Ginny.

“Really? Wow,” said Luna. “I’ve tried loads of times to read nothing and I haven’t quite managed it. It’s always been so much easier to read things that actually existed.”

Ginny just looked at her for a moment, and then cracked a half-smile. She had met Luna the day before on the train, and they’d gotten on well-enough, but Luna was quite simply the strangest person Ginny had ever met. She was inwardly somewhat relieved when she’d ended up being sorted into Ravenclaw, if only so that Ginny’s mind would not be strained quite so often in attempt to follow Luna’s thinking.

And then Ginny had an idea.

“Luna,” she said, “what would you think if someone were communicating with someone else, who’d become trapped inside a mirror through some unknown magical force?”

“What would I think?” asked Luna. “D’you mean what did I think? The first time I heard about it?”

Ginny was taken aback–“What?”

“Well, it’s not that uncommon is it? It’s happened loads of times. My daddy knows a man who routinely gets stuck inside mirrors and comes back out again with Ciler-Rirroms, which my daddy buys from him–”


“Mmhmm,” said Luna, nodding. “It’s Mirror-Relics backward, you see. They’re artifacts, like newspapers and books, with all the words written backwards, they’re evidence that he’s really gone there and back–”

“–thanks, Luna,” Ginny interrupted, and then, to appear slightly less rude: “We should check the potion.”

The potion didn’t really need checking, for it was perhaps the simplest concoction known to wizard (this being the first day of classes), but Ginny felt somewhat bad for Luna.

“So, erm,” Ginny began again, “how was it, exactly, that that man–the one with the Ciler-Rirroms–how was it that he got out? Of the mirror?”

“His true love, of course,” said Luna, as though it were the plainest thing in the world. She wasn’t looking at Ginny any longer, but instead intently watching the bubbles bursting one by one inside their cauldron. “Only someone’s true love can pull them out from inside a mirror, everybody knows that.”

“Oh,” said Ginny. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” said Luna. And then, almost offhandedly: “Let me know if your brother gets stuck inside a mirror, will you?”

Ginny blinked. “Which brother?” she asked, and then: “...why?”

“Ronald,” said Luna, in response to the first question, and to the second, she said: “Well, he’s very handsome, you know, and I suppose there’s no sense in not checking, just in case.”

Ginny half-grinned once again, and said: “Sure thing, Luna.”

“Thank you,” said Luna, “and enjoy your nothing.”

After Potions, Ginny had a break, and she nearly tripped over herself on the way back to the common room. When she crawled through the portrait hole, she heard Hermione Granger’s voice, somewhat loud, entirely irritated, and a more than a little bit anxious:

“Are you sure you brought it down here, Ron?”

“I’m sure,” said Ron, sounding like he might scream at her or burst into tears, at any moment. He was over by the fireplace, turning up sofa cushions, and all of a sudden Ginny felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, and she thought of the silvery cloak currently hidden in the bottom of her knapsack.

“What’s wrong?” Ginny asked, and before Ron could open his mouth, Hermione opened hers instead.

“Ron’s lost a... book,” she said, looking meaningfully at Ron. Ginny wondered if she knew how terribly obvious it was that she was lying.

Ginny looked at Ron as well, sure that he would contradict his friend and include her in the search.

“...yeah,” he said, instead. “I lost my History of Magic book down here, last night. You didn’t see it, did you, Ginny?”

Ginny, he said. Not Gin, but Ginny. She felt a cold, empty feeling in her chest, and shook her head.

“Can’t say that I have,” she said sharply, and sat down in one of the chairs by fireplace. “Did you look in your trunk?”

Ron furrowed his brow, looking like he was wondering what he’d done to deserve that tone, and didn’t respond. He just kept looking.

Ginny took a strange, extra pleasure in writing to Harry, then: it was as though she wasn’t just talking to him, it was as though he was hers, and only hers. Ron and Hermione thought that they would keep her out of all of their Harry business–if only they knew.

She wrote with the tip of her pen pressed to the paper with an extra bit of vigor, this time:

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write, she wrote, I didn’t really know what to say.

She waited a moment, and grinned as his words appeared beneath her own:

It’s all right. I was worried I’d lost you.

Ginny’s heart did a summersault in her chest–for just a moment–before it crashed back down to reality with his next sentence:

Where are Ron and Hermione?

Ginny glanced up from the book, towards Ron and Hermione–Ron was on his hands and knees, peering beneath the couches and armchairs, and Hermione was looking on with an expression somewhere between anger and anguish.

They’re in the common room, she said, which was true.

Harry wrote more quickly this time, as though excited, and Ginny couldn’t help but frown:

Can you get them? Can I talk to them? They’ll believe all this, I’m sure they will.

Ginny hesitated–this was the last thing she wanted to do, to share him when he’d heretofore been hers and hers alone–but there was no way to explain that to Harry, to convince him not to want to talk to his best friends. And so she called them:

“Ron? Hermione?”

They both looked round at her, Ron lightly bumping his head on the underside of the couch to do so, and Hermione looking slightly impatient.

“What, Ginny?”

She hesitated once again, and eyed the words in the book once more, longing in some dark part of herself to lie to Harry, to say she couldn’t find them, and keep him to herself.

“Come look at this,” she said, holding the book up in her hand.

Ron came, and took the book, peered at it for a moment with a puzzled look on his face.

“What is this, like, poetry or something?”

Ginny’s eyebrows shot up, for that had not been the expected response.


“Is it poetry, I said? Or just random sentences?”

“What are you talking about?”

Hermione took the book from Ron, and read aloud:

I’ll try... although I really have no idea what good I can do.

She paused, looking perplexed, and then: “So... what happened? I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write... I didn’t really know what to say... they’re in the common room.

She looked back to Ginny, and said, “Well, it’s very free-verse, isn’t it, but I think it’s quite good. Sort of abstract, but some of the best poetry can be–”

“It’s not poetry–what about all the lines in between, the answers?”

Ron looked at Hermione, and Hermione looked at Ron, and then they both looked at the book.

Ginny grabbed the book from their hands, and pointed at Harry’s words.

There, the answers, that’s what I’m trying to–”

“There’s nothing there, Ginny,” said Ron.

“Oh!” said Hermione, suddenly a bit excited. “Are you speaking figuratively? That the answers lie between the abstract lines, in the blank spaces, because we can’t truly know the answers, and–”

“What, do you think I’m crazy?” said Ginny, and she was nearly shouting. Hermione shut her mouth quickly, looking like she’d had her tail trod upon. “It’s not bloody poetry, that’s Harry Potter’s writing! He’s writing to me through the book!”

Even as she said it, she knew how ridiculous it sounded, and how futile it was to exclaim–clearly, they couldn’t read Harry’s words, they couldn’t see them. And now she’d gone and blown everything.

The two of them stood perfectly still for a moment, staring at her, each with a look of disgust across their face.

“That’s not funny, Ginny,” said Ron finally, roughly pushing the book in Ginny’s hands back towards her chest. “I need to find the–my book.” And without another word, he went back to his search. Hermione went along with him, still looking deflated, and Ginny wanted to scream at them, but couldn’t. Instead, she took off towards her dormitory, and closed the curtains around her in her four-poster bed.

They can’t see it, Ginny wrote quickly, and a sudden sniffle caught her off-guard–was she starting to cry? They can’t read what you’ve written. They think I’ve gone completely crazy.

A minute went by before he wrote back, the longest minute of her life–she felt with each second that passed more and more sure that she was crazy, that she was writing to a stupid diary and had deluded herself into thinking it was real. She began to cry in earnest now, the tears sliding down her cheeks and falling upon the book, dropping one by one onto the letters she’d written until they were blurry and faded–blurry like the towers of a castle obscured by a thick fog.

And then, finally, he wrote back.

Are you crying?

Ginny gasped, stared at the smudges on the page and futilely attempted to wipe them away, to erase them entirely so that he might never have seen them at all. But it was impossible, and soon more words splotches appeared, falling fresh from her eyes.

Don’t cry...

She took one of the pillow cases from its pillow and attempted to wipe her face with it, and then wipe the page, to excise all the tears she’d wished she’d never cried, for she was so embarrassed, so infinitely embarrassed that she’d let him see her cry, him, Harry Potter–she’d let him see her cry and he couldn’t even see her face. And thoughts like those only made the tears flow faster.

And then:

Please, don’t cry, Gin.

Everything stopped–for a moment, she didn’t cry, didn’t even breathe, as she took in that word, those final three letters, that Gin.

She scrambled for the pen–lost somewhere in that once-flawless bedspread that was now a complete wreckage of blankets and pillows–finally found it, and scribbled furiously: Gin?

He wrote back quickly, clearly relieved that she’d finally responded:

I dunno if you like being called that, I’m sorry... I figured, we’re going to be dealing a lot with each other, and I just think you sound more like a Gin... Ginny sounds like a little girl, you know?

Oh yes, she knew.

So... do you have any ideas? she wrote. She thought of what Luna had said, the way that that man had supposedly gotten out of his mirrors, and then pushed the thought to the back of her mind.

Well, wrote Harry, I think the first thing to do is to talk to Dumbledore. He’ll know what to do. He knows all about this mirror.

For a second Ginny just looked at the page, thought he was being daft, but then realized that–of course–he couldn’t have known.

I can’t, she wrote. Dumbledore’s not here.

I can wait, he wrote. I’ve waited this long, I can wait for him to get back.

You don’t understand, he’s not coming back,
she wrote. He’s been sacked. They sacked him because they thought he let You-Know-Who kill you, and get the Stone, and that he should have been able to keep better watch of his students.

There was no reply for a long, long time, and it felt like a silence, even though there hadn’t been any spoken words to begin with.

Finally, the now-familiar handwriting appeared once again:

Bloody hell.

Another minute, and then:

So Dumbledore’s left Hogwarts? Voldemort comes back and they kick Dumbledore out of Hogwarts?

Yes, Ginny wrote. He was sacked at the end of the school year, and no one has heard from him since. It’s all over the papers, he’s disappeared.

Another moment, then:

He’s going to walk right in and take over.

Ginny blinked–for a foolish moment she thought Harry was talking about Dumbledore. What?

Voldemort. With Dumbledore gone, what’s to stop him?

Ginny scribbled furiously: You-Know-Who can’t just walk into Hogwarts, can he? This is the safest place in the world.

No sooner had she finished the word than the next letters began to appear:

Not without Dumbledore. Dumbledore’s the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. That’s the only thing that stopped him from taking it over the first time.

Ginny swallowed.

So what do we do? she wrote.

The words had a strange sort of finality to them as they appeared:

We need to find Dumbledore.


Back to index

Chapter 2: PART TWO

“Our Buried Life”
a story in two parts
by the mystery tramp


The castle was strangely cold on that second night of September. The ancient flagstones felt frigid, even through Ginny’s slippers, as she let her feet fall from the portrait hole and onto the floor. With the Fat Lady’s snores muffled slightly by the Invisibility Cloak, which Ginny kept pulled tight around her, Ginny’s ears were filled predominantly with her own breathing–louder than it should have been, she thought, as she began her careful journey down the seventh floor corridor–toward the West Tower–toward the Owlery.

Harry and Ginny’s quest to find Dumbledore had been fruitless as of yet–Ginny had inquired after his whereabouts with Professor McGonagall, after her first Transfiguration lesson, but the new headmistress hadn’t been any help–she had, in fact, been keenly (and predictably) suspicious as to precisely why a first year girl would need to locate the former headmaster–and when Ginny had insisted it was very important, and that it had to do with Harry Potter, McGonagall had drawn her lips into an inimitably fine line, and ordered Ginny out of her classroom.

The rest of the day had passed uneventfully, until finally–as Ginny was about to retire for bed–she glanced at the book just as an idea hastily scribbled itself into existence:


Ginny had been confused–she fumbled for the pen, and wrote: Hedwig?

YES! came Harry’s quick reply. Hedwig is my owl, and she’s unbelievable, she could find anybody, anywhere. I bet she’d be able to find Dumbledore.

That’s excellent!
wrote Ginny, grinning for the first time in hours. Then she frowned. But where is she?

She should still be in the Owlery, with any luck.

And so that was where Ginny was headed now–her second night at the castle, and her second night out after hours alone.

But I’m not really alone, she thought. I’ve got Harry with me.

She followed the directions that Harry had given to the West Tower, and began to climb up, up the stairs–they seemed almost endless, now, this late at night when she was dreadfully tired from her lack of sleep the night before. She had to walk slowly to keep her balance, and just as she wondered whether she would reach the top before sunrise, the final steps came into view just above her, then leveled out, and then she was there.

The floor of the Owlery was disgustingly dropping-strewn–she determined she’d have to clean her slippers vigorously the first chance she got–and the stone room was even colder than the rest of the castle, with its glassless windows open to the night.

Hundreds of owls were perched in the darkness above–and she assumed hundreds more were out, hunting in the night–feathery shadows that Ginny could not tell from each other for the life of her. Harry had said that Hedwig was a snowy, so she looked for any dim speck of light among that ocean of black, but it was hopeless–it was simply too dark.

Quietly, she called: “Hedwig!

A thousand hoots sounded together at the disturbance, and a number of the owls flew from their perches, circling the area before they settled down once more. Ginny’s eyes were fixed high above, hoping for any sign of the owl they needed. Perhaps Hedwig herself was out, hunting... or perhaps she had been taken away from the school, when Harry had been “killed”...

Resignedly, Ginny called once again: “Hedwig!


Ginny jumped a foot off the floor and let out a tiny scream–this hoot, unique among the cacophony, had sounded from right in front of her: a single, snowy owl was standing on the lowest perch and looking her over with its head quirked curiously to the side.

“Hedwig!” she exclaimed in excitement, setting off another chaotic reaction among the sleeping owls above. Ginny grinned, and pulled out the book, hastily tearing out the page on which they had composed a letter to Professor Dumbledore, informing him of the situation and pleading for his help. Lacking an envelope, Ginny folded the paper in half, and held it out for Hedwig.

“Bring this to Professor Dumbledore,” she said. When the owl made no move, she added: “It’s from Harry.”

Hedwig snatched the letter in her beak, glanced once more at Ginny, and took off through the nearest window.

And now we wait, thought Ginny. She watched Hedwig fly–nothing but a graceful curve illuminated by the moonlight as she faded into the distance–and resignedly set off on the long walk back to Gryffindor Tower, her slippers squelching slightly as she walked.

* * *

The sky was buried beneath the ground, and Ron couldn’t see for the darkness, couldn’t feel for the cold. He was shivering violently where he lay, flat on the grass of the battlefield, staring up into the void with his hands on his side, holding his wound.

For the longest time, he could hear nothing but the strongest wind in his ears, blowing harsh against his raw skin, so that he would have been in the most awful pain if he weren’t thoroughly numb. His mind, too, had gone blank along with his senses, and he could not quite remember what had happened.

Then–the memories rushed back, a battering ram against his skull, with the sudden, high-pitched sound of the evil king: laughing, laughing, ringing into the night.

And then the laughter was gone, replaced with the dead, broken silence inside Ron’s head.

And the wind was gone, replaced with utterly still, stagnant air.

And the darkness was gone, replaced with a single, shining light, reflecting from some distance away.

And the numbness was gone, replaced with an intense, throbbing-yet-just-barely-tolerable pain within Ron’s gut. He found himself able to stand, to move towards that strange ghost-light in the center of the room–and he realized that this was indeed a room, now, and not a field.

Ron stumbled his way towards the light–still holding his side–and saw that it was emanating from a great, imposing mirror, which stood perhaps a thousand times taller than Ron himself. It struck a chord in Ron’s brain–and the chord resonates: intensely familiar...

“Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am...”

Ron spun round, the voice–HIS voice–echoing within the empty chamber–or perhaps only within Ron himself. Perhaps only in his memory.

“Look at me!”

This was Ron’s own voice, loud, excited, and certainly not coming from Ron’s mouth. Ron looked back around at the mirror, this mirror which he knew, now.

“Can you see all your family standing around you?”

Ron edged closer to the glass, closer, closer, closer still.

“No–I’m alone–but I’m different–I look older–and I’m head boy!”

Except he wasn’t alone at all, he wasn’t older–he was younger, and he was with Harry.
For on the other side of the glass Ron could see the figures whence the voices came, Harry and himself, staring transfixed at the mirror.

“I am–I’m wearing the badge like Bill used to–and I’m holding the house cup and the Quidditch cup–I’m Quidditch captain, too!”

Ron stepped closer, placing his hands hesitantly upon the glass, almost afraid that he would tip the mirror over, that he would break it, that it would be gone. He watched Harry unblinkingly, stared at him, for there he was, alive, and well–only, in the mirror.

“Do you think this mirror shows the future?” said Ron’s reflection.

“How can it?” said Harry. “All my family are dead.” A pause–the last word echoing menacingly out into the chamber, reaching out to take hold of Ron, to snatch him away back into his mourning heart. Then: “Let me have another look–”

But Harry would not get another look, for all of a sudden mirror-Ron had vanished, and had been replaced by the evil king, standing over Harry, a blood-red stone in his long-fingered hand.

“It’s over, Harry Potter,” said the high-pitched voice. The evil king raised his sword–or was it a wand?–towards Harry, and hopelessly, Harry looked into the mirror–looked directly at Ron–and with a flash of green light, the king attacked, but then Harry was gone–the sword clanged against the stone floor, heavy and unbalanced–and the green light faded innocently into the distance.

Ron’s eyes snapped open.

* * *

Ginny breathed a sigh of relief as she approached the portrait hole, for the Fat Lady’s frame remained open, just a bit, as she had left it, and she was able to climb back into the common room without incident.

It struck her suddenly, as she began to cross towards the dormitory stairs, that she felt brilliantly, undeniably awake, which was quite ridiculous given her shortage of sleep. But something in her was keeping her eyes wide and alert, not even drooping the slightest bit from the fatigue that earlier had nearly overtaken her a thousand times during classes.

And so instead of heading back up to her dormitory where she belonged–and perhaps acting upon a deep longing to keep the adventure alive, a hesitance to go to sleep for fear it may all turn out to be a dream–she removed the Invisibility Cloak, shoved it into her bag, settled into one of the armchairs by the fireplace, and pulled Harry out onto her lap–or rather, pulled the book out, she corrected her thoughts hastily, almost guiltily.

And she began to write, and began to read–to converse with this boy she’d never met, with the name she’d always known. They spoke not of Dumbledore, and did not name He-Who-Must-Not-Be, not even once–instead, somehow, Ginny found herself talking to Harry Potter as though he were her very own friend–not the best friend of her brother, whom she’d dreamt of the previous year as she wished to be at Hogwarts with all of her heart–and not the famous Harry Potter, not the Boy-Who-Lived, but the Boy-Who-Wrote-Back, again and again, surprising her each and every time.

You know, despite everything, Ginny found herself writing, this is really kind of nice.

I mean, she added hastily, the words tripping over themselves on the way out of her pen, not the you-being-trapped-in-a-mirror-while-You-Know-Who-is-out-there-about-to-attack, that’s horrible, obviously, I mean this book and everything. It’s nice having somebody to talk to.

Yes, it is, wrote Harry. It’s a nice change, after a whole summer of nothing in particular.

It’s really sort of crazy, isn’t it?
wrote Ginny, her heart racing as each new word formed without her brain having a chance to really think through what she was saying. I mean, talking to you like this. You don’t seem like I thought you’d be like, you don’t seem like the Harry Potter I read about when I was little, the Harry Potter they put in the storybooks–

Harry quickly wrote, before she had a chance to ramble on further:

Storybooks? They put me in storybooks?

Ginny blinked.

Of course they did. You’re the Boy-Who-Lived. You’re practically a fairy-tale. You’re bigger than the Three Little Hinkypunks, Ginny wrote with a grin.

And there was a long pause, and Ginny couldn’t help the worry from creeping up inside–What if he doesn’t write back...?–but then, as they always were, her fears were assuaged.

Sorry for the delay, he wrote. I was laughing. I can’t remember the last time I laughed.

And Ginny felt like a big red balloon, sailing high above Hogwarts with a smiley face painted on. He kept writing:

You’re serious, though? Storybooks about me? That’s ridiculous!

Yes, I’m serious. And I had one myself, thank-you-very-much. “Ridiculous.” Hmmph.

You did, eh?

Ginny nodded, and then remembered herself, and wrote.

Yes. And without even thinking, she went on: When I was little, I think it was my fourth birthday, Ron got one for me. He didn’t really get it himself, of course, he was five... but he picked it out. And then, he’d read it to me sometimes, once he could read. When I couldn’t sleep. When I was scared.

Another pause, and then: Ron never told me about that.

Ginny bit her lip. I doubt he’s told anyone about that.

Why not?

She hesitated, and then: Well, I hadn’t. Until now. And he’s a boy. He’s probably embarrassed.

That’s a stupid thing to be embarrassed about. If I had a little sister, I would’ve done that.

She grinned once again. Cool, she replied. And as they wrote, back and forth, back and forth, deep down inside of Ginny–in that same place where Hogwarts was her fairy-tale wonderland, where each nook and cranny of the castle called to her as a beautiful, magical, mystery–she began to wonder if it was possible to fall in love with somebody you’d never met.


She’d been scribbling intently when she heard the voice, and then the pen was flying across the room and Ginny had jumped a foot in the air.

“Ron!” said Ginny, attempting to catch her breath.

“Don’t you ever sleep, Gin?” Ron asked, and there was something alive in his voice again, like there’d been the previous night, something of the old Ron, the Ron she’d used to know.

“Not very much, no,” said Ginny. She leaned over and snatched her pen back up off the floor–then she peered at Ron, who was watching the empty fireplace, and frowned.

“The dreams, again?” she asked.

“No,” said Ron, shaking his head before hesitating–“Well, yeah, but not the same. It was different tonight.”

She waited a moment to see if he’d continue, and then prompted him:

“Do you want to talk about it?”

He didn’t say yes–he just began:

“It started out where the other dreams end,” he said. “Just when he... you know. When You-Know-Who gets him. But then this time I was... I was in the room with the Mirror. Wait, you don’t know the Mirror–”

Ginny was silent.

“–well, there’s this mirror, it’s called the Mirror of Erised.” Ron’s voice was growing more strained as he spoke, and his breathing almost ragged. “Harry found it over the Christmas hols last year, and it shows you like, it shows you what you want most in the world.” He sniffled, once, so that Ginny almost thought she’d imagined it. “And in the dream, I saw me, and I saw him, when we were standing in front of the Mirror, and then suddenly it was him and You-Know-Who, and You-Know-Who tried to kill him, but it... it didn’t work, he–Harry, I mean–he looked at me, and then he was gone, but he was... he was OK. That doesn’t make any sense–”

And then he began to cry, and Ginny moved herself to the couch beside him, just as they had sat the night before, and she began rubbing his back.

“It’s OK, Ron.”

But she had only rubbed a few moments when the sniffling stopped abruptly and Ron was tense.

“What the bloody hell is that?”

Ginny pulled her hand back. “What’s what? I’m just–”

That,” said Ron, and he pointed to the foot of the armchair where Ginny had been sitting, where her bag was nestled with a very distinct silvery something pouring out the top–almost like liquid.

Ginny opened her mouth to speak, but had no words, and Ron stood and snatched the Invisibility Cloak out of her bag, quick as a flash.

“You stole this from me?” he asked, incredulous.


“You think this is some sort of game, Ginny?” His voice grew louder, louder, from whisper-yelling to almost-shouting. “What in hell was I thinking, telling you my bloody dreams–I forgot, you think this is a game. First that hilarious book, earlier, and now you’ve–”

“What is going on down here?” hissed a voice from the girls staircase, and they both turned to see Hermione, standing on the steps, wearing a pink dressing gown and a fuming face.

And as an answer, Ron held the Cloak aloft. “This is what’s going on,” he said.

“You found it!” said Hermione, sounding relieved and friendly for a moment before she remembered the situation. “But why are you yelling–?”

“She stole it,” said Ron, pointing wildly towards Ginny with the cloak.

Hermione’s eyes widened. “What?”

“I didn’t steal it,” said Ginny, finally finding her voice. “I just–”

“You just what? Pried it from my sleeping hands?”

And there was something so horribly vicious in Ron’s tone, now, and Ginny couldn’t stand it anymore. Tears began to stream down her face from pure frustration–for there was nothing to say, was there? There was no defense against the truth. She had stolen it. But it had felt so... right... at the time...

“Ron, calm down, you’re making her cry...” said Hermione, noticing Ginny’s tears–and perhaps the savage look in Ron’s eyes. She swept across from the stairs to where Ginny was standing, and put a hand on her arm. It was strange, to have Hermione on her side, and Ron railing against her. “I’m sure Ginny had a good reason for taking it. Didn’t you, Ginny?”

But Ginny had nothing to say. She could only savor the last few precious moments before Hermione turned against her as well, and so she leaned helplessly into the hand on her arm.

Didn’t you, Ginny?” said Hermione once again, sounding a bit less sure of herself.

“She most certainly did,” came a voice–a deep, unexpected voice, which Ginny had never heard before in her life.

* * *

The sky was white with lightning as Ginny threw open Ron’s door for the second night in a row–and as the door swung, the usual creak was replaced by a vast rumble of thunder from up above.

“It’s really close tonight, Ron,” she said, her voice trembling. “I counted, like you said, and it’s only two one-thousand–”

“C’mere,” said Ron, and she scuttled as quickly as she could into the bed beside him. “You’ll be fine, Gin, I promise.”

“I’m scared,” said Ginny, shaking her head and burrowing into his shoulder.

Ron sighed, and watched her fire-red head shake as the world was filled with light once again, followed quickly by another explosion of thunder. He looked at the ceiling warily–he reckoned it probably wasn’t the best idea to be at the top of the house during this.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Ron, “let’s go down to your room.”

“No... it feels safe up here,” said Ginny.

“If we go down to your room...” said Ron, grasping for some motivation. Finally, he struck upon something: ‘I’ll read to you. Just like when you were little.”

Ginny’s chocolatey-brown eyes appeared suddenly from their burrow in his shoulder.

“Harry Potter?” she asked. “Like you used to?”

“Harry Potter,” agreed Ron. The sky cracked open once more. “Quick, let’s go, last one down’s a one-legged Quintaped.”

Ginny was off like a flash, and Ron doubted even the lightning could have beaten her downstairs.

* * *

“Professor Dumbledore!” exclaimed Hermione.

“The very same,” said the voice Ginny had never heard, which she now knew belonged to the Headmaster she’d never met. Dumbledore was a tall wizard, with an old-fashioned wizard hat crooked upon his silvery hair, and behind half-moon spectacles were the bluest eyes Ginny had ever seen–which were sparkling as though they had not sparkled in a very long time. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Weasley,” he said, extending his hand, which Ginny shook hesitantly.

“What are you doing here?” asked Ron, taken aback. He added: “Professor.”

“I received a letter from Miss Weasley,” he said, nodding his head towards Ginny. “A most interesting letter indeed.”

Ron and Hermione looked at Ginny, eyebrows raised.

“But I only sent it a few hours ago,” said Ginny. “How could–”

“Ah, but you sent it by means of a most remarkable owl,” said Dumbledore, somehow managing to interrupt without a trace of rudeness. “And indeed, I was not very far away, so I do not believe Hedwig had any trouble at all.”

Ron and Hermione’s eyes widened, and Hermione mouthed: Hedwig...?

Dumbledore smiled, and then: “Miss Weasley, would you mind showing the way to the Mirror?”

“Of–of course,” said Ginny, and she led the way towards the portrait hole. Dumbledore followed quite amiably, with Ron and Hermione trailing behind in stunned disbelief.

“Your letter was quite the unexpected breakthrough,” said Dumbledore as they walked. “You see, I have spent the last months searching the school for the Mirror, for it very notably disappeared from its home last June–and I had my own suspicions about the significance of the disappearance. If what you wrote is true, my suspicions will have proven correct. I was certain it would turn up eventually...”

They had reached the spot where the door to the Room of Mirrors had been.

“Erm,” said Ginny. “This is it. It was just here... it appeared on the wall, just there, a door–”

Dumbledore was smiling to himself, shaking his head.

“I might have known.”

“What?” said Hermione. “What might you have known?”

“The Come-and-Go Room,” said Dumbledore. “The Room of Requirement.”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “I’ve read about that! In Hogwarts, A History–”

Once again, Dumbledore gracefully interrupted: “The Room of Requirement is by far the most temperamental and... tetchy room in the castle. It tends to have its own ideas about who should be able to find it, and what exactly it is they will find.”

Ron whispered to Hermione: “So what exactly is going on?

“Miss Weasley, when the room opened itself to you, what was it that you were seeking?”

Ginny thought for a minute. She had wanted to find an adventure of her own within Hogwarts, an adventure like the ones her brothers had told her about, her own story to tell, that was it, wasn’t it?

She opened her mouth to speak, but Dumbledore raised a hand. “You needn’t speak aloud. Merely walk back and forth three times, and concentrate–deep down in your mind.”

Deep down in your mind.

Deep down in her mind, she hadn’t been merely looking for an adventure at all–deep down, she had longed to solve the mystery, to discover what it was that had happened on that night in June, to unearth the secrets of Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the boy she’d dreamt about when Ron had written home from school, the boy whose story could calm her during even the most terrifying of lightning storms–

And the door appeared.

Dumbledore grasped the doorknob and pulled the door wide–he gestured with his other arm: “After you, Miss Weasley.”

Ginny began to run, quick as a flash of lightning, through the door and past the mirrors on the walls, so that her innumerable reflections could barely keep up with her. In another moment, she was standing before the Mirror.

Harry was sitting on the ground, the book open in his lap, and he was looking at it intently. Ginny couldn’t help noticing, however, that he was not merely watching the latest page, waiting for her to write something new–no, instead, he was rereading the pages they’d already written, reading the stories of their lives that they’d buried within those pages.

Ginny smiled, and knocked lightly upon the glass.

The sound reverberated loudly in the Room of Requirement, and it must have done so within the Mirror as well, for Harry’s head snapped up, and he greeted her with a limp smile.

The smile widened into a grin as Dumbledore walked into view from the darkness behind Ginny. Ron and Hermione hung back, unsure of what exactly was going on.

“There he is,” said Ginny, pointing. Harry had stood, and was now pressing his hands against the glass, eager, as though the mere presence of Dumbledore would cause the glass to vanish, so that he could walk out of the mirror.

Ginny turned around, then, to look at Dumbledore, expecting a merry smile accompanied by a chuckle–instead, his mouth was thin, and straight, and perhaps even grim.

“What’s wrong?” said Ginny, frowning.

Dumbledore said nothing, but continued to look into the glass with that most morbid expression fixed upon his features.

“Can’t–can’t you see him?” said Ginny, her heart suddenly forgetting to beat. “He’s–he’s right there, Professor!” And she pointed, and when he didn’t react to her pointing, she touched the glass, unconsciously lining her own hand up with Harry’s.

“Miss Weasley... I’m afraid I was mistaken in my suspicions.”

Ginny blinked. “What do you mean?”

“I had believed, perhaps only with my heart, that somehow, Harry had become trapped within this mirror, that Lord Voldemort had not killed him at all. And I have spent the last months searching for this mirror, expecting perhaps to find him within it. When I received your letter, I was positive that my suspicions had been confirmed.”

Ginny could not fathom why he was repeating all of this.

“Now, however,” continued Dumbledore, “now that I have found the Mirror, I am afraid all it contains is an old man wearing woolen socks.”

Ginny furrowed her brow. “What are you talking about?”

Dumbledore sighed, a heavy, heavy sigh.

“We have been fooled by the Mirror of Erised,” he said. “We believed we had found a miracle, when really, we’d only stumbled upon the visions and desires of a childhood crush.”

“What are you talking about?” said Ginny once again, almost shouting now, her eyes wide and her breathing heavy.

“Men have wasted their lives before this mirror, Miss Weasley,” he said. “It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.”

And with that, he turned and began to walk towards the door, picking up a confused Ron and Hermione in his wake.

“NO!” shouted Ginny. “He’s right there!”

But they were gone. Ginny was alone–except for Harry.

Ginny looked at him, now, Harry, his scarred forehead pressed up against the glass, leaning listless and looking heartbroken as he watched Dumbledore–his supposed savior–arrive and leave again. It was the saddest, most hopeless sight Ginny had ever seen, Harry Potter, the great hero, the Boy-Who-Lived, leaning broken, crying against the glass. She longed for nothing more than to be able to comfort him–to be able to hold him in her arms and rub his back as he cried onto her shoulder–to be able to speak to him, aloud, to tell him everything would be all right.

And then, it was.

The End

Author’s Notes: This story can, and likely will, be construed in many different ways. I actually didn’t originally intend for it to be that way, it just sort of happened–developed organically on its own. I’d like for you to just sit for a moment, and think–and I know that I have already taken a large amount of time out of your day with this 11,000-plus word tale–but I’d appreciate very much if you could reflect on it a moment longer:

What just happened? What did you read? Did you read what you thought you read? Did you miss something? I learned a thousand things about my own story I never thought I’d intended, while writing it. I do not know exactly what happened; I leave that up to you now. Sure, I’d like to think I know exactly what this is about, (and I do have my own theory, which I suppose you could consider the “truth”) but none of us–and by “us” I mean “authors”–really have a clue what our stories mean to each person who reads them.

So please, review, and tell me what you think happened. I want to see if I’m the only one who saw it the way I did. My first reader did not–not at all. So, please, tell me what you think–I will be infinitely grateful.

the mystery tramp

Back to index

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at http://www.siye.co.uk/siye/viewstory.php?sid=127807