Title: Through the Looking Glass
Summary: What if a single rash decision made in your youth set the stage for years of conflict? And what if you were given a chance to see the way things might have been?
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. A few quotes have been copied directly from the books, but these should be obvious to anyone familiar with the texts.
Warning(s): Angst. Sappy boylove. Cheesy plot devices. Flashbacks (but not really). Butchering of canon. Spoilers for the books up to HBP, but if you haven’t read them by now, come on.
Word Count: 3,436
Author's Notes: When I read your request for a “this-is-what-it-could-have-been-like AU” story, I knew instantly what I wanted to do. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. ♥
“And here we have the Mirror of Neebe. Created by Rowena Ravenclaw in 987 A.D., this mirror is the companion to the Mirror of Erised, which currently resides at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The purpose of this set was to aid those who needed to find a little perspective before making decisions. They were often used by kings during the....”
Harry tuned out the recording to focus on the object before him. It was exactly as Hermione had said - as tall as the ceiling, set in a frame of silver adorned with delicate scrollwork. Across the top, in familiar lettering, it read: Neebe vahth gimta hwt ub sita hwt on wohsi.
I show not what is but what might have been.
It was so simple. Brilliant, even, Harry thought grudgingly. Assuming that the whole wizarding world somehow discovered the secret of Voldemort's immortality, who would ever think to look for one of his Horcruxes in the middle of the British Museum of Magical History?
The audio tour was gently urging him to move on to the next exhibit, as the museum would be shutting down for the day shortly. Shutting off the little purple sphere, Harry glanced at his watch. Just over thirty minutes until closing. Now all he had to do was find a place to hide while he waited.
When he slipped out of the supply closet an hour later, Harry could hear faint footsteps in the distance. Guards, he thought, suddenly thankful that he’d remembered to bring his dad’s cloak. Just to be safe, he waited until they had faded into the distance before heading back to the room where the mirror was displayed.
As he approached the mirror, a flash of movement caught his eye. A slight figure dressed in black, moving towards the same object, and a familiar glint of silvery blond hair-
Harry caught his breath. He hadn’t seen Draco Malfoy since the night Dumbledore died, which was over two months ago now. The boy looked smaller somehow, beaten down. The dark circles under his eyes had only gotten worse, and his shoulders sagged as if under the weight of some tremendous burden. Snape must have taken him back to Voldemort, Harry realised. He felt a rush of sympathy as he wondered again what Malfoy had been doing all this time, what impossible tasks had been set for him now.
He took a step closer, curiosity throwing caution out the window, and Malfoy whirled around.
“Who’s there?” he demanded, raising his wand. “Show yourself!”
Harry tightened his grip on his wand before slipping out of the cloak.
“Potter. Of course,” Malfoy sneered. “Where are your little groupies?”
“Ron and Hermione aren’t here. It’s just me.”
“Got sick of them so soon? Frankly, I’d almost prefer they were here. As I recall, the last time we were alone, you tried to kill me.”
Harry felt the colour rising in his cheeks. “That’s not going to happen this time, Malfoy,” he said, and lowered his wand.
Apparently, that was the last thing Malfoy was expecting. “What are you doing, Potter?” he exclaimed. He dropped his own wand slightly, but didn’t lower it completely. “Are you a complete idiot? I could kill you!”
“No, you couldn’t.”
“Oh, no? What makes you so bloody sure?”
“You didn’t kill Dumbledore.”
Malfoy stared at him incredulously.
“I was there that night. I know you wouldn’t have killed Dumbledore,” Harry continued. Malfoy paled at the mention of his name. Harry reached out and grabbed his wrist. “Come with me,” he said quietly.
Malfoy shook his head wordlessly, pulling his arm free.
“Come on, Malfoy. Don’t make me ask twice. I can protect you, there’s this place-”
“It’s too late, Potter!” Malfoy hissed. “You don’t believe me? Look!”
He pointed to the mirror. They both stood in front of it, but just as with the Mirror of Erised, Harry couldn’t see their reflections. Instead the glass was filled with a dark, swirling mist. As he watched the shadows began to take shape, and he felt as though he was falling into the mirror, reliving the scene rather than watching it unfold before his eyes.
“You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort,” Draco said, extending his hand. “I can help you there.”
Harry glanced at Ron, who was looking at Malfoy as if he were a particularly disgusting insect. He caught Harry’s eye and shook his head slightly, as if to say, “Don’t do it!”
Harry hesitated for a moment, then gave Ron a reassuring nod before clasping Draco's hand in his.
“Thanks, Malfoy. I’d like that.”
The mist reformed, swirling, churning, and then fading again as another scene took shape, then another, and another.
“Are you sure you're ready for this, Potter?” Draco sneered, leaning on his brand-new Nimbus 2001. “I'd understand if you just want to forfeit now and save yourself the embarrassment.”
“The embarrassment of winning the shortest Quidditch match ever? I think I’ll survive.”
The two boys glared at one another. Then Harry started to laugh, and Draco grinned at him.
“This is going to be brilliant,” he said, clapping Harry on the shoulder. “Just you wait and see.”
“Of course it will,” Harry said, recovering himself. “I can't wait to finally beat you in a real game.”
“You wish, Potter. Remember who it was that got you that Seeker position in the first place.”
“Oh, right, because if you hadn’t been tormenting poor Neville, I wouldn’t have had to fly after you to kick your sorry arse. Clearly, I owe you such a debt.”
Draco smirked. “Obviously, it was all part of my clever plan, Potter.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re such a prat sometimes, Malfoy.”
“Maybe, but would you have me any other way?”
“Wow,” Draco whispered softly. “You really killed this thing? It’s huge!”
Harry shivered. It was cold in the Chamber of Secrets, and he wished they could leave. But after telling Draco about what had happened down there, he’d had to promise to show it to him as well.
“You faced this all by yourself?”
“Well, yeah. Ron was stuck in the tunnel, so I sort of had to….”
Draco stepped cautiously up to the basilisk, as though it might strike at any moment. He studied the creature in silence for a long moment, not daring to touch it. Then he looked to the pool of drying blood – Harry’s blood – on the floor. When he turned away from it, Harry saw that his face had gone pale and he was trembling a bit.
“Draco?” Harry asked. “What’s wrong?”
Draco stared at him like he was a ghost. “You’re so stupid sometimes.”
And then, to Harry’s surprise, Draco hugged him fiercely. He let go just as quickly and stepped back. “You could’ve been killed,” he said softly, not meeting Harry’s eyes. “Merlin, Harry, I can’t let you out of my sight for ten minutes without you running off to do something idiotic.”
Harry reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond – Draco had never acted like this before. Draco was never afraid of anything.
“Yeah, but it turned out okay, didn’t it?” Harry asked quietly.
Draco looked up and forced a smile. “Yeah.” He glanced back at the giant corpse of the basilisk and his smile grew a little. “On the bright side, this must be the coolest thing anyone has ever done to get one of those Special Services awards. They’ll be talking about this for centuries.”
“Well, where should we go first?” Hermione asked, bouncing excitedly on her toes. It was a beautiful day, and they were all eager to get outside and enjoy it. This would be the first time they all went to Hogsmeade together without hiding Harry under the cloak. “I could use some more parchment, oh, and the new edition of Hogwarts: A History was released last week!”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Brilliant. Now we get to spend the whole day in a ruddy bookshop.” Hermione punched him lightly on the arm as they passed through the door into the bright October sun.
“Hold up a moment,” Harry said. “I’m supposed to meet someone right here.”
“What? You didn’t mention it before,” Hermione said, turning to face him. “Who-”
Her question was answered when an all-too-familiar voice called out, “Oi, Harry!”
Draco Malfoy approached them from the direction of the lake. He was alone for a change; usually Crabbe and Goyle followed him everywhere he went.
“Urgh,” Ron said weakly, looking a bit sick. “Honestly, Harry – do we have to?” Hermione hit him again, not so playfully this time.
Harry shook his head. “No,” he said quietly, “you don’t have to do anything. I’ll meet you later, then.” He started down the steps, only to be stopped by a hand falling on his shoulder.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Harry,” Hermione said just as Draco came within hearing distance. He stopped and looked at her uncertainly for a moment. “Of course you're welcome to join us, Malfoy. Right, Ronald?”
“Er,” Ron said, quailing under her glare. “Right, of course.”
Harry smiled. “All right, then,” he said. “Let’s go.”
They set off across the grounds, Ron and Hermione taking the lead. Draco fell behind a bit, and Harry instinctively fell back, too.
“Thanks for that,” Draco said softly. The words sounded a bit awkward coming from him, as if he wasn’t used to saying such a thing. “You didn’t have to, you know.”
Harry reached over and tugged at Draco’s carefully knotted scarf, earning a yelp of surprise. “Yeah,” he said, laughing at the indignant look on his friend’s face. “I did.”
Harry threw down the latest copy of the Daily Prophet. Hermione gave him a sympathetic look; they were all used to the outrageous headlines by now, but that didn’t make things any better. This morning’s story, which told the world that Harry had used Dark Magic to trick his way into the Triwizard Tournament, reached a whole new level of insanity.
“Good morning, Gryffindorks,” Draco said cheerfully, dropping into the seat beside him.
“Don’t you have your own table, Malfoy?” Ron asked. He stabbed viciously at his eggs, looking for all the world as if he wished it was Draco's head on his plate rather than breakfast.
“Oh, well. I like to think of everything here as mine,” Draco said airily, and stole a piece of toast from Harry's plate to prove his point. “But that's not why I’m here. Behold: I come bearing gifts for the masses!”
With a dramatic sweeping gesture, Draco produced a little parcel from his robe pocket. He offered it to Harry, who tore the paper open.
“Badges?” Harry asked. There in the torn tissue lay three black badges, each bearing the words “Support Harry Potter” in silver letters.
“It took me twenty minutes to wrap those,” Draco said mournfully, picking up the ruined paper. Ron snorted.
“What is this about, Malfoy?” Hermione asked, examining one of the badges. She pressed on the face and the letters dissolved and reshaped themselves to read, “Sticking it to the competition since 1981.”
“I just thought Harry could use a show of moral support,” Draco said. “So I passed them out to the rest of the Gryffindors, the Ravenclaws, and the Slytherins. Some of the Ravenclaws won’t wear them, and the Hufflepuffs are obstinate little wankers, but it’s a start.”
“You got the Slytherins to wear these?” Hermione asked, looking up in surprise. “How?”
Draco smirked. “Well, I know you goody-goody Gryffindors don’t approve of blackmail, but under the circumstances….”
“You blackmailed your entire house?” Ron asked incredulously. He looked a bit impressed by that.
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Draco answered.
“Draco,” Harry said, and then stopped. He couldn’t quite believe the trouble his friend had gone to for this – for him. He squeezed Draco’s shoulder lightly. “Thank you. This is… well, it means a lot, you know?”
Draco’s cheeks went a bit pink, but he looked pleased. “They're just badges. You don't have to throw me a parade or anything,” he said. Then his face lit up. “Actually, that would be okay, if you wanted to. I’ve always been very fond of parades. Just keep Weasley off the planning committee; he has horrendous taste. I’d hate to see his idea of a proper float.”
Ron looked offended. Harry cuffed Draco on the back of the head, and then he looked offended, too.
“Some thanks I get,” Draco muttered, smoothing his hair back into place.
“Good luck,” Ron whispered, and Harry walked into the Great Hall. His hands were shaking, and he clutched his wand tightly.
“Professor Tofty is free, Potter,” Flitwick told him, indicating a table in the far corner. Draco was just a few seats away, levitating a wine glass for Professor Marchbanks.
“Potter, is it?” Professor Tofty asked, peering up at him. “The famous Potter?”
“Er, yeah. I guess so,” Harry said. He heard a quiet snort of laughter and glanced at Draco. The wine glass trembled in the air for a moment, then did a series of somersaults before landing gently back on the tabletop.
“Excellent, Mr. Malfoy!” Professor Marchbanks exclaimed, making a note in her book. Draco smiled and gave him a thumbs-up.
Harry turned to the eggcup on the table before him, feeling considerably more confident than he had in the corridor.
“I trusted you!” Draco shouted. He pushed Harry roughly against the wall, leaning in close. “I thought we were friends, I believed things would be okay, and you got my father sent to prison!” Harry shoved at him, sending Draco stumbling backwards.
“You’re damned right I did,” Harry snarled. “I don’t regret it, either. In fact, I wish I could’ve sent your dear mother there as well, seeing how she’s the one who got my godfather killed!”
Draco punched him. Harry could feel the cracking of glass against his face, the small trickle of blood that ran from his nose. He yanked off his broken glasses and threw himself at Draco.
“She didn’t know what would happen!”
“She used him to get to me! Would you be happier if I were dead, if it meant your father was free?”
“No- I don’t- no!”
Harry threw Draco against the wall. His body connected with a sickening crack and he collapsed, holding his arm at an odd angle. For a moment Harry was pleased, a surge of self-righteous satisfaction flowing through his blood, but then he saw the tears streaming down Draco’s face.
“Draco,” he said, kneeling down by his side. Draco turned his face away, closing his eyes, as if he couldn’t stand to look at Harry. Gingerly, Harry reached out and touched his face, wiping away the warm tears.
“I’m sorry,” Draco whispered. His voice a bit hysterical. “I didn’t know what she was doing. They didn’t- she didn’t tell me. If I’d known, I’d have stopped you.”
Harry felt tears welling up in his own eyes now. He slipped his arm around Draco’s shoulders, carefully trying not to brush against his broken arm.
“I’m sorry, too. I wish… well, I wish it hadn’t been your dad.”
Draco nodded. “And I wish it hadn’t been your godfather.”
They sat in silence for a moment, both surreptitiously trying to dry their eyes. After a while Draco rested his head on Harry’s shoulder.
“If it had been you, I would have killed her,” he said softly. Harry looked at him, surprised.
“No, you wouldn’t,” Harry said just as quietly.
“I would’ve wanted to.”
Harry smiled weakly. “I know. C’mon. Let’s go get that arm fixed.”
“I can’t do this,” Draco whispered. He was shaking in Harry’s arms, one hand fisted in the sleeve of his robe. “He says he’ll kill my parents. I have to do this. There’s no other way.”
“Yes, there is!” Harry said, holding him a little tighter. He couldn’t let go of Draco, not now, not ever. He couldn’t leave him to face this alone. “We’ll go to Dumbledore, tell him about your mission. He’ll find a way out of this. We can hide your mum, and Lucius is secure enough-”
Draco laughed. It was a harsh, bitter sound, edged with panic. “You want me to go to Dumbledore?” he asked, pushing Harry away slightly. “Forgive me, but I don’t have your blind faith in him. And anyway, he’s the one I’m supposed to kill, remember? Honestly, how do you think he’ll react to that?”
“He’ll help you, Draco,” Harry insisted. He sighed at the doubtful expression on Draco’s face. “Fine, then will you trust me, at least? We can talk to Lupin if you don’t trust Dumbledore. Or McGonagall.” Draco grimaced at the mention of their names, so Harry added, “Or Snape.”
Draco paled visibly. “Snape’s a Death Eater, Harry.”
“He’s a spy,” Harry answered. Draco looked shocked for a moment, then shook his head.
“No, he’s not. I’ve seen him; he’s one of the Dark Lord’s most trusted servants-”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harry said. “We’ll talk to whoever you want. Or else I’ll hide you myself, if I have to. I’m not letting you go back to him, and I’m not letting your family die.”
Draco wasn’t shaking anymore. He shifted against Harry, bringing their faces impossibly close. Harry could feel Draco’s warm breath on his lips when he said, “Promise?”
“Yes,” Harry whispered, and leaned forward to close the distance.
Harry stumbled away from the mirror as the last scene faded away. He couldn’t breathe; his chest ached, as though someone had ripped away some part of him, something that should have been his but never really was.
“I didn’t know,” he said, staring at the mirror in shock. “I didn’t know.”
Malfoy’s face softened momentarily. He looked younger, more vulnerable. Like the boy in the mirror.
“Well, now you do,” Malfoy said quietly.
Harry stepped forward and laid one shaking hand on Malfoy’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he said. Malfoy was shaking, too – Harry could feel the fine trembling under his fingertips.
“It’s too late for that, Potter.”
“No,” Harry whispered. “It’s not. I won't let it be.” And then he leaned forward and kissed Malfoy.
It wasn’t sweet, or gentle, or any of the things Harry had always thought a first kiss should be. Instead it was rough and desperate, and just a little cruel. He poured his frustration into that kiss, his confusion and fear. Harry fisted his hands in Malfoy’s hair, and rejoiced in the feeling of Malfoy’s arms crushing them together. His mouth opened for Harry, and Harry savoured the stinging bite of teeth bruising his lips. It was warm and hard, so alien and yet so familiar, and so utterly perfect.
Until Malfoy pushed him away, that is.
His face was flushed and his eyes were bright, and he was staring at Harry as though he’d never seen him before. Malfoy shook his head slightly. “It’s too late,” he said in a rough voice.
“Come with me,” Harry said, ignoring the words that he didn’t want to hear. “We can hide you; you won’t have to go back-”
“No,” Malfoy said, dropping his gaze. “I can’t.”
“Malfoy, please,” Harry said, moving closer. “Let me fix this-”
“No!” Malfoy shouted, backing away. He looked wild, angry and terrified, and Harry wondered briefly if somehow Malfoy was more afraid of him than of Voldemort. “You can’t fix everything, Potter!”
“Give me a chance,” Harry said softly. Malfoy looked at him for a moment, as if considering the possibility.
“You had one, once,” Malfoy finally answered. He glanced at the mirror, then back at Harry. “There are no second chances. It’s too late.”
He turned and ran for the door, and before Harry could catch up he heard the loud crack of Disapparition. Harry slammed his fist into the wall before leaning against it.
“Damnit, Malfoy,” he whispered. He opened his eyes and looked at the mirror. It was empty now, the grey fog having dissolved to show only a blank silvery surface.
Malfoy hadn’t taken it.
He’s wrong, Harry thought, looking at the mirror as if it was the answer to some unspoken question. It’s not too late. And as soon as I destroy this, and kill Voldemort – then I can prove it. I’ll make another chance.
Taking his wand from his sleeve, he shrunk the mirror to the size of a thimble and slipped it into his pocket. Then Harry walked through the door Malfoy had gone through just moments before, and Disapparated.