“Harry, are you all right? You’ve not been acting like yourself today.”
“Yeah, I’m fine, Hermione. Why don’t the two of you go ahead and I’ll catch up?” Ron and Hermione looked at him curiously then headed off down the hall, commenting on how they had enjoyed the feast, how Hagrid’s pumpkins had been bigger than ever before. Harry watched them go. The truth was, he hadn’t been feeling normal today. He’d had a sense of something, just beyond him, that was going to happen.
“Like when I’m about to catch the Snitch, maybe,” he said to himself. He shook himself and headed onwards.
The corridor was very dark. The torch at the end had gone out, and Harry had to strain his eyes to see his way. Then, at the end, he thought he saw a flash of silver, a gleam in the dark. Without even pausing to think, he headed off as fast as he could. He turned the corner and saw the elusive light disappearing around a bend. Now he was running, straining to catch it, but it continued, just on the edge of sight, playing with him like a hinkypunk with its’ victim.
Finally, it led him down a corridor with only one door. Harry pushed it open. It was a storage room of some type, full of odds and ends of this and that. The light had vanished, and Harry, straining his eyes in the gloom, tried to see any sign of it. Then his gaze fell on an object in the corner of the room. An object he knew well. There, in a pool of moonlight, the Mirror of Erised stood, dark and tall. Harry knew that he should leave, forget about the mirror. He knew it was dangerous, that he should go, but he couldn’t. It was as if some invisible yet inexorable force was pulling him toward the mirror. A mixture of hope and dread filled him. He slowly looked into it.
He saw himself, standing in a room full of rubbish. He saw, too, a woman, sitting in a corner of the room. It seemed so real, he had to turn to show himself she wasn’t really there. But as he turned, his heart leapt within him.
For there, in the shadows, was the woman whose face he could not remember seeing outside of pictures. Whose voice haunted his nightmares. Whose love had saved his life.
“Mum?” he whispered, unable to believe his eyes. She nodded. Then she smiled. “Mum! How are you here? Are- are you a ghost?”
“In a way, Harry. I’m here, tonight, because you need me.” Her voice was silvery and musical, not the way it had sounded the only time he could remember hearing it – moments before her death. She continued. “I haven’t long here. I am here, Harry, because you have been wondering about your father and me. About whether we would be proud of you?” Harry nodded.
“I feel that I – I mean I-oh, I don’t know how to say it.”
“You feel that you have something to live up to? That, somehow, you owe it to James and I?”
“Harry, that’s not true. Not in any way. And of course we’re proud of you. How could we not be?”
“I suppose I’ve done one or two things.”
“Let’s see. Most people would say facing Voldemort twice – and defeating him – would be something to be proud of. Your status as Quidditch player, your academic success…. But you don’t think that’s enough, somehow.”
“Those things mostly just sort of happened. I didn’t really mean to do any of it.”
“But there are things you meant to do, that make me just as proud.”
“Like befriending Hermione. Like trying to help Ron when he was upset. Like helping Hagrid with his pets. Teaching Neville to stand up for himself. Standing up to the Dursleys. Your kindness to Dobby the house elf. Helping Sirius escape. The dedication you showed learning the Patronus charm. Oh, Harry, there are so many things you’ve done that we are proud of – and you should be.”
“Do you really mean that?”
“Harry, you’re my son. I love you, and I would love you if you were no braver than Neville Longbottom, no nicer than Malfoy. But you are brave, and kind, and good. And I am so proud of you. You are the son that I always wanted to have.” Harry looked at her. She was smiling, and he could see tears on her face. Whether they were of joy or sorrow, he did not know. “I can stay no longer, Harry.”
“Oh, no, please!”
“I am sorry, Harry, but it is not up to me.”
“Mum, I – I love you, Mum.”
“And I love you, my Harry.” She was fading now; she was less solid than most of the resident ghosts of Hogwarts. “I will be with you – always.” And she was gone.
Harry stood for an instant, looking at the place she had been. Then a noise made him come to his senses, and he returned to his dormitory. But that night, as he was almost asleep, he thought that he heard faint, silvery laughter. He smiled and sank into sleep, remembering his mother’s promise. Somehow, he rather thought he’d see her and his father again.