Victimized

Perception

Take a look at my body,
look at my hands
there's so much here that I don't understand
Your face saving promises,
whispered like prayers
I don't need them.

I've been treated so wrong,
I've been treated so long as if I'm becoming untouchable
I'm a slow dying flower
I’m the frost killing hour
sweet turning sour
& untouchable.

I need the darkness,
the sweetness,
the sadness,
the weakness,
ooh I need this.
I need a lullaby
a kiss goodnight,
angel, sweet love of my life
ooh I need this.
Well, is it dark enough,
can you see me?
do you want me?
can you reach me?
or I'm leaving...
you better shut your mouth
and hold your breath
you kiss me now,
you catch your death

-My Skin by Natalie Merchant


“Severus!” Snape looked up as Draco came practically running into his office. He lifted an eyebrow at the boy, who immediately sat down in the chair before his desk, then stood, then began to pace, then sat down again, all in an excited frenzy. The professor leaned back in his chair, waiting for his student, who stood again and went to the window, to begin talking. He wheeled suddenly, eyes shining. “Severus, I think I might be on to something.”

“I’m assuming we’re talking about the Weasley girl?”

Draco nodded, stepping over to his desk and leaning his hands on it. “She doesn’t like looking in mirrors.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I don’t either. All I know is she doesn’t. She refuses to look at her reflection. And I want to figure out why. I think…I have guesses.”

“Well, by all means, share them if you’re going to.”

“I think…I can guess...obviously it has to do with what happened to her.”

“Obviously.”

He sighed. “I think she’s too ashamed, you know? She’s avoiding seeing herself because she doesn’t want to see the scars on her body and be reminded of what those men did to her.”

“That sounds reasonable. Now, why are you telling me all of this?”

Draco began pacing again, his hands clasped behind his back. Snape knew this was his student’s way of mulling troubling thoughts over, and so he did not interrupt the boy. “I need her to look in a mirror, to see her reflection, to admit her beauty. I think it will help me to heal her. I think she’s ready for this, Severus. I think she’s ready to begin facing what happened to her over the summer, and I think this is the first step in her doing so.”

“That is a lot to ask of her, Draco. How can you be sure she won’t pull away from you?” Snape asked him. “Then everything you have done up until now will be in vain.”

“I can’t. But I won’t know unless I try,” Draco answered.

“There is much on the line, Draco. Her emotions, her heart, her sanity, even. You have to be wary of pushing her so far that she breaks.”

“I know. I know! But…” He inhaled deeply. “But I really think this is what she has to do before she can move on. Before she can open up to me about what happened to her and begin to heal. She needs this.”

“And are you certain of that, Draco?”

“Yes. I believe it with all my heart,” Draco said.

Snape nodded slowly, staring at his folded hands. “Still…I’m cautious of such a sudden change. It may shock her to see herself now.”

“What do you mean?” Draco asked, sinking slowly down in the chair, his excitement beginning to deflate.

“I mean the sunken cheeks, the shadows under her eyes, the gaunt frame, the dead, so to speak, look in her eyes, not to mention that insane haircut.” Snape studied his folded hands as he spoke.

Draco sank back in his chair, staring at his professor in confusion. “But all those things…they just make her more beautiful.”

“To you, yes.” Snape raised a placating hand at the angry twitch in Draco’s face. “I’m just saying, everyone sees things through different eyes. Beauty in the eyes of the beholder and all that rot. When she looks in the mirror, she will see an image much different than what you see. She will judge herself much more harshly. Whereas you see only her beauty, she will see only the ugliness. Perhaps why she has refused for so long to so much as glance at her reflection.”

Draco stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Then…how do I make her see what I see?”

There was a slight twitch in Snape’s lips, as if they wanted to rise into a smile but didn’t quite know how. “Have you ever heard of the Mirror of Erised, Draco?” He shook his head. “It is a mirror that, when gazed upon, shows you what you most want in the world.”

“How will that help me?”

“It won’t. Let me get to the point I was trying to make. The Mirror of Erised was brought to Hogwarts by Dumbledore for storage here. It is just one of Hogwarts’ many secrets. But with it was brought a less well-known mirror, appropriately named the Mirror of Perception, which is its companion.”

“And…how does it work?”

“How do you think? It shows you not what you most desire, like the Mirror of Erised, nor does it show you your true reflection. Rather, it shows you how somebody else sees you. Thus, it only casts a reflection when two people stand side by side and look into it.”

Draco mulled this over, a triumphant grin slowly growing on his face. “That would be perfect. That would be exactly what she needs! Where can I find it?”

Snape sighed. “That would be the problem. I never actually saw it myself, only heard of it from Dumbledore when Erised arrived. Nobody’s mentioned it since.”

“Then, who would know where it is?”

“Dumbledore would, of course.”

“And he’s dead.” Draco frowned.

“Dead, yes, but his memory is not gone.”

“What do you mean?”

“You could always ask his portrait.”

“It’s in the Headmistress’s office.”

“Draco, he’s not confined to his borders. Ask one of the other portraits to request him to meet with you somewhere convenient and discuss it. Perhaps his painting will know.”

Draco nodded, standing, and pulled Snape into a hug. “Thank you Severus! You’re a genius!”

Snape sat stiff and uncomfortable, but waited until his student had released him. He straightened his cloak huffily. “Yes, yes, I have papers to grade. Get along now.”

Draco just grinned at him and ran from the room in excitement.


“What is this all about, Draco?” Ginny whispered as the boy pulled her through the hallways.

He grinned back at her, keeping his voice low as well. It was late at night, as usual, and they had been lucky enough so far to not get caught by any Prefects on patrol or Filch. “It’s a surprise.”

“Obviously.” She retorted. “Or else you would stop being so devious right now and tell me.”

He shrugged. “Telling you would ruin the surprise.”
“Why do I get the feeling I won’t like this?” Ginny asked.

He paused, glancing at her. “You never like surprises, Ginny.”

She nodded. “True. I don’t like not knowing what’s going on.”

“Well, I guess this just sucks for you, doesn’t it?” He said with a grin, pulling her along by her hand. She had to practically run to keep up with his quick pace. “We’re here.”

“Where?” Ginny lifted an eyebrow. It was another quiet, unrecognizable hallway, but considering the size of the school, it didn’t surprise her. She did wonder, however, what could be so important that he would pull her through seemingly random hallways for almost fifteen minutes to take her here, to a door that looked wholly unspectacular and that housed who knew what surprise.

Draco didn’t open the door. Instead, he turned to her, his eyes suddenly serious. It was strange to see that expression set there, on a face that usually housed only laughter and mirth. She had grown so comfortable and used to his lighthearted smile and his mischievous smirk that to see him serious, his eyes filled with emotion she didn’t understand or want to comprehend, she suddenly became apprehensive and fearful.

Ginny tugged her hand away from Draco’s, pulling it against her chest in a defensive position. “Draco…what’s going on?”

“I…” He sighed, running his hand through his blonde hair. It fell messily into his grey eyes. “I planned everything up until this moment.” He giggled, as if nervous. “But now I’m not sure how to proceed.”

“I don’t understand.”

He shook his head. “I…I can’t just thrust you in there and hope for the best. That wouldn’t be right. That wouldn’t work. I should prepare you somehow, but I kept you in the dark up until now because I was afraid you’d run away.”

“Run away from what? Draco, what is going on?!”

He took her hands in his. “I want to show you something.”

“You said that already.”

He nodded, biting his lip. “Close your eyes.”

“What?” she asked.

“Close your eyes. Just do it.” Draco commanded.

“Why?” She gave him a wary, skeptical look.

When the boy repeated his request, she realized she wouldn’t get an answer. With a tired sigh she closed her eyes and shrugged. “Now what?”

“Now follow me.” He led her forward, guiding her by the arm, into the room, or so she assumed. Ginny stumbled behind him, but Draco held her up to keep her from falling. Then, he planted her firmly where she stood and walked behind her, his chest at her back, his hand still holding her arm, as if afraid she would fall. Or run away. “Alright…” He inhaled shakily. “Open your eyes.”

Ginny did. At first all she saw was the frame, gilded and golden, reaching as tall as the ceiling. Around the top were etched letters in another language, Latin, perhaps? She was reminded of the Mirror of Erised, which she had never seen for herself but only heard of when eavesdropping on Hermione and Ron and Harry. But this wasn’t how she had pictured it at all. The few candles that lit the room illuminated the reflection inside. It was her and Draco, that was all. Wasn’t the Mirror of Erised supposed to show what you most wanted in the world?

“What is this?” she whispered, turning her face away. “What are you doing, Draco?”

“This is a mirror. The Mirror of Perception, to be exact.” He held her tightly in his arms, even as she struggled uselessly to get away from him.

“What?” She paused, curious.

“It is a companion to the Mirror of Erised. It shows you how the other person looking into it sees you.”

She shook her head, then tried to push him away again. “Why are you doing this? I don’t want to look.”

He stared at her. “Why not? I still don’t understand it.”

“Understand what?”

“Why don’t you like to look at your reflection? If you’re not careful, people might think you’re a vampire,” he joked.

She didn’t think it was very funny. “Draco, just stop. I don’t want to talk about this-”

“You don’t have a choice. I’m not letting you go until you explain it to me.”

“Draco, please-”

He grabbed her chin roughly, surprising her, and forced her face up so that she had to look him in the eyes. They were churning, those grey eyes, like a storm building beneath the surface. “Tell me. Please. I want to know.”

“I just…I just can’t!” Ginny yelled.

“Why not?”

Ginny shook her head, inhaling shakily and trying to force back the tears that were rising. “I just can’t look at myself.”

“Why not?” He repeated.

“I can’t…I’m just…so disgusted.” She shut her eyes and buried her face in Draco’s chest, shaking her head. Her body began to shake with sobs, but she refused to let him see the tears in her eyes.

“Ginny…I know…what those men did to you was horrible. But Ginny, you can’t avoid everything just because it reminds you of them. You avoided eating and sleeping and looking at your reflection and who knows what else. Ginny, you can’t avoid living. Not because of them. You can’t allow them to control you like that.”

She was sobbing openly now, staining his shirt with tears, drenching it. “I don’t want to live.”

His hands were running over her back soothingly. “I know. But you have to. Because I’m not letting you give up. You have to live, and you have to do this. For me. For yourself.”

Even as she shook her head in protest Draco turned her around, facing her toward the mirror. He supported her with one hand and wiped away her tears with the other. “Ginny, open your eyes.”

She was too weak to fight him. She did as she was told, gasping as her eyes again fell on the reflection. This time, she didn’t look away, but forced her gaze to stay on her image.

Ginny was surprised by what she saw. It was her, all of her, and it was how she had imagined she’d look by now. All of her scars, at least, those visible that weren’t covered by her clothes (she would have to take extra care to cover the ones up on her neck and arms next time) were there. Her eyes were cast in dark shadows. Her body look malnourished and bony, especially her cheeks. Her hair was short and choppy and fell limply into her face. And yet…yet there was a strange sort of beauty to it all. She was all there, but she was different. Her scars were not the scars of somebody who had been violated. They were battle-wounds, a symbol of her strength. Her shadowy eyes were dark and mysterious and oddly alluring. Her bony, gaunt frame looked soft and breakable and gentle. Her gaunt cheeks just accentuated her full, soft lips, and it was strange, but she could almost describe them as kissable.

“This…this isn’t me.”

“But it is. This is how I see you, Ginny.”

Ginny shook her head, sinking to her knees, as the tears flowed freely down her cheeks. Even those seemed to shine in the mirror like diamonds. “I’m not…I’m not that pretty…”

Draco took her face again in his hand, gently turning it away from her reflection. She was surprised by the emotion burning in his eyes. “You are the most beautiful woman in the world.” Ginny shook her head again, opening her mouth to protest. Her heart suddenly jumped in her chest. Why was he moving closer? Why was he looking so intently at her? Why were his lips so close to her own?

Her eyes flew open and she pushed him away with all her might. She was surprised when he fell away from her, sprawling onto the floor unceremoniously. He watched her in surprise as she scrambled to her feet, wrapping her arms tightly, protectively around her body. “No! No! This isn’t me! You…don’t touch me!”

“Ginny…I’m sorry…I didn’t mean-”

She didn’t hear the rest of what he had to say. Ginny turned no her heels and fled the room.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Draco stared at the empty space where Ginny had stood just seconds before. His hand was still extended to stop her, but she was gone, just escaping his reach. He contemplated chasing her down, but decided against it.

Had he pushed her too far? Stretched her until she broke? He had thought he was helping. When he saw her crying, saw her raw soul and emotions spilled out before him, he had really thought he had broken through the ice, reached into her heart and mind for the first time. He had thought she was opening up to him finally.

And he had been ecstatic when she had looked in the mirror. Not just because she had actually forced herself to, despite how uncomfortable it made her, but because of what he’d seen in the mirror. Himself. Himself in Ginny’s eyes.

He had expected a completely different reflection. Someone foreign and strange. A loser, perhaps? Maybe even a monster? He wasn’t a Death Eater, and he had proven that to her, but who was to say that would change her perspective on him, after the prejudice she had been taught for so many years? And so he was pleasantly surprised by what he saw there.

Himself. And yet, different. Familiar. Friendly. A smiling face, mischievous eyes. He seemed to glow in the mirror, a light in the darkness, a friend to confide in. He looked uncharacteristically handsome and kind, not at all like the brooding, perverse boy he saw when he looked at himself alone. All in all, he looked like a saint, and that was the strangest thing of all.

Did she really picture him so perfect? So regal and glowing and bright and innocent? Did she honestly think he was as handsome as she made him out to be? Had he fooled her into believing so?

And with this newest revelation, the wheels began to turn. Did she feel for him the same way he felt for her? Not just physically, yes, he was physically attracted to her, no doubt of it, but emotionally as well? Did she perhaps love him the same way he did, or, in the least, like him? She certainly must have had some sort of attachment to him. And so he had made assumptions. He had let his emotions run away with him. She was there, he was there, their emotions, their thoughts, their very souls were laid bare. Why not? What harm could it do? Or had he even thought of that at the moment, thought of anything, as his eyes fell on her lips, so close to his own? He found he was moving without thinking, though not against his will, his lips lowering to hers, desperate to taste her, to hold her, to feel that connection, that current running through them, burning him wherever she touched.

He had been so preoccupied he had let his hold on her slip, and she had pushed him away, catching him off guard. And it hurt. He was shocked by just how much it hurt. The look that she gave him, contemptuous, but not hateful, too broken to be angry, hurt and ashamed. And damnit, he knew what she was thinking now when she looked at him. Knew he had shattered everything in a single moment, a single action. She must think he was just like them, just like those men that raped her, no, worse, trying to take advantage of her through friendship, trying to overpower her emotionally instead of physically. He didn’t need to look in a mirror to see what she thought of him now.

And then she was gone in a blink of an eye, moving too fast for him to explain, to calm her, to try to fix this. And now it was too late. Draco groaned, burying his head between his knees in defeat. How could he ever get her to trust him and open up to him now? If he just hadn’t let his damn hormones, and even worse, his emotions take over! He cursed himself for his foolishness. “One step forward, two steps back.”

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