Yule Shoot Your Heart Out
The end of autumn gave way to winter and all of Hogwarts was blanketed with snow. The first day I looked out the window and saw all the snow, which luckily was a Sunday, I immediately went looking for Neville and made him play with me outside. Harry and Ron joined us as we dragged Hermione away from the library. We laid down and made snow angels and competed to see who could make the best snow wizard. Ron won, apparently competing with six siblings every year gives you an edge.
Soon enough it was time to pack to go home for the holidays. Christmas was always a bittersweet time of year. “Are you done packing?” Hermione asked. “Yup, just finished. Better make sure that Nev didn’t forget anything.”
I ran down the girls stairs and up the boy’s. I came in and the boy’s hadn’t packed a thing. Well, Ron had an excuse; turns out that he’s not going home. His parents are going to visit his brother Charlie, who studies dragons in Romania. When Hermione learns about that she’s probably going to give him homework to do on Nicholas Flamel with Harry, which he’ll probably push off to play another round of wizard’s chess.
I helped Neville pack things he probably would have forgot otherwise. He’ll probably still forget a couple things, but oh well, it’s only a couple of weeks. Hermione, Nev and I said our goodbyes and holiday wishes to Harry and Ron, who were playing wizard chess in the common room, before we left for the train. Ron was now staying at Hogwarts because his parents were visiting his brother that works with dragons in Romania, so Hermione assigned him with helping Harry look for Nicholas Flamel in the Restricted Section.They looked so excited at that. Ha, right.
Nev and I played Exploding Snap on the train ride back while Hermione was reading another gigantic book that she checked out of the library for a bit of light reading. Ha.
Gran was waiting for us at the platform. She was wearing her green robes and that atrocious vulture hat that she adored for some reason. When we were kids Nev and a would steal it and chase each other around the house. Once we left Kings Cross we walked down a back alley before Gran grabbed both of our hands and we apparated away. Nev and I raced to our rooms to unpack our things before we competed to see who would make the best snow wizard.
On Christmas Eve we went to St. Mungo’s to visit mum and dad. It was always bittersweet when we went to visit. We would tell them what Nev and I have been up to, our latest accidental catastrophe, and the new plants in Nev’s garden. This time, like every time, I just wished that we could see the pride in their eyes when we tell them that we were sorted into Gryffindor. That I could listen to his stories about being on the Gryffindor Quidditch team when I tell him about making reserve. That mum actually saw me when she looked at me, not the girl who brought her favorite flowers, just me.
Gran apparated us into a back alley close to Purge and Dowse Ltd., a red brick department store in London. “We’re here to visit the Longbottom’s.” Gran said to the ugly mannequin in the store window. The mannequin nodded its consent and we walked through the barrier, like on platform 9 3/4, into the reception area of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
We walked through the rows of witches and wizards waiting for treatments. Since this was a far cry from our first visit to St. Mungo’s we walked straight to the Janus Thickey Ward on the fourth floor. We walked down the end of the isle between the rows of the other permanent residents of the ward.
They were out of bed, that was a good sign. Mum was looking out the window and dad was in the rocking chair, looking at a far off spot on the floor. I put mum’s favorite flowers, Calla Lilies, into the vase that was on her bedside table. I took out the bag of Honeydukes from my bag that Gran had put an undetectable extension charm on. I gave Neville the chocolate wands to give to dad, while I handed mum a pack of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum.
We told them about being sorted into Gryffindor like they did and about the other students in our year. I know that they didn’t really understand or remember the stories we were telling them, but we told them anyway. Mum turned her attention to the Calla Lilies when I was telling them the story of our first flying lesson, with Nev interrupting every once in a while, which led to my spot as reserve. She slowly lifted her hand and started slightly petting a Calla Lily, feeling the silky texture of the petal under the pad of her fingertips. She grabbed the flower that she had been stroking and broke off part of the stem. She placed the Calla Lily into my hair behind my ear. I tried and failed to contain the tear that left a slow lonely trail down my cheek as I turned my face more into the curve of her palm. Oh, mum.
Healer Miriam Strout asked us to leave after dad started shaking and mumbling as he rocked faster in the rocking chair. “It’ll be okay. Happy Christmas.” I lied as we said our goodbyes. We were walking toward the exit of the Janus Thickey Ward when mum caught up to us and tugged on Nev’s sleeve before she handed him an empty wrapper of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum that we got her. “Thanks mum.” Nev said quietly. “How nice dear,” Gran said in her high pitched tone, “now throw that wrapper in the bin, Neville.” She whispered the last part, although it was a loud whisper since Gran didn’t know how to whisper quietly, as mum skipped her way back to dad. I grabbed Nev’s hand and squeezed slightly, feeling the Drooble wrapper between our grasp, and gave a small sad smile that was mirrored on his face.
I wrote Harry and Hermione a few times (Ron’s not much of a writer), Hermione more so since it was just her and her parents. She did the homework two days into the holiday of course. She thanked me for the book on Magical Theory that I knew she wanted. She gave Nev and I planners with schedules of classes and study times already inside of course, which she probably got Harry and Ron too. Harry told me about a mirror that he found in the castle that I just had to see. He found it when he was hiding from Filtch, Snape and Quirrell after sneaking into the restricted section of the library after hours looking for books on Nicholas Flamel. There was no progress on that search. Ron added a P.S. thanking us for the package of sweets that we sent them. Apparently we sponsored the Christmas Sugar High of ’91. I made a mental note to make sure that I told Ron to thank his mom for me for the red jumper with a yellow ‘C’ that she knitted.
The rest of the holidays passed by rather slowly. Nev and I played in the snow then played wizards chess by the fire to warm up. Sometimes we spiced it up with a game of Exploding Snap. Other than that it pretty boring. It was strange to realize that some things just weren’t as much fun now that we’ve gone to Hogwarts. We were counting the days until we could go back.
We found Hermione saying goodbye to her parents on the platform. The adults got to talking as caught up on each others holiday that didn’t make it into our letters. Gran nodded politely when the Grangers said they were dentists. What’s a dentist? Do they put dents in things? Gran seemed to have no idea either, but the Granger’s seemed like nice muggles.
Hermione made notes for our classes on these little white rectangular cards with lines on them that she called flashcards. Apparently it was an efficient way to study in the muggle world, which was proved correctly when she spent the train ride using them.
When we reached the Gryffindor common room we saw Ron and Harry playing wizards chess. I studied the board for a moment before I whispered, “Queen to E5” into Harry’s ear.“Oi!” Ron complained childishly. Harry smiled in thanks before taking my advice. I smirked as I continued my way to the girls dormitory to unpack.
It didn’t take long to unpack my things since we were only gone for a couple of weeks. I went downstairs and noticed that the Weasley twins were bundled up for the snow and looking like they were up to something. Well, it is the last day of holidays and its not like I have anything better to do, I smirked.
I ran back upstairs, grabbed a jacket before subtly chasing after them. I found them in the Entrance Hall and squeezed between the twins wrapping my arm around their elbows. The looked down at me, “What are you up to Littlebottom?” they asked simultaneously raising their eyebrows. I narrowed my eyes at the stupid nickname, “That’s what I was about to ask. You two look like your up to no good and its got a girl curious.”
They smirked at each other. Fred started, “So you want to know-”
“-what we’re up to? I guess we could-”
“-use another pair of hands-”
“-for our prank.” I smiled at their twin connection, a part of me wishing that Nev and I could communicate like that. They grinned and bent slightly to whisper into my ears, “Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do...”
We stealthily made our way by the courtyard, making sure to keep ourselves hidden behind the pillars. Fred and George charmed a fairly decent amount of snowballs into a pile while we waited. After about five minutes Professor Quirrell made his way through the Courtyard. Once he was halfway through we all started throwing snowballs at the back of his head. Every time Quirrell went to turn in our direction to see where the snowballs were coming from we hid behind the pillars again and tried to contain our laughter. Now, some people may think that this sounds cruel, but that’s because they have never been on this end of the snowball. I may not have liked Quirrell in the first place, but it was so much fun and honestly, it was hilarious. Professor Quirrell started running towards the Great Hall.
I collapsed against the pillar with my hands on my knees as we broke out laughing. After a minute or two we tried to collect our breaths. “You’ve got potential, Littlebottom.” I lifted my head and glared at them. “Don’t call me that.” They smirked. “That just makes us-,” George started. “want to call you that even more!” Fred finished. I sighed, this obviously wasn’t going anywhere.
Later I went to the Great Hall where I met everyone for dinner. On the way back to common room Harry and I trailed after Ron and Hermione who were arguing over something stupid as usual, Nev was trying to play the mediator this time. “Tonight meet me in the common room at midnight. I need to show you this mirror that I found in a disused classroom. I need to know what you see.” My eyebrows crinkled in confusion. “What I see? It’s a mirror Harry, I’d see myself.” Harry shook his head, “When I first found it I saw my parents and when I showed Ron he saw something else.” Well, that’s strange. I slowly nodded, “Okay, midnight.”
The next few hours passed slowly. The common room was crowded with Gryffindors catching up on their holidays or holiday homework, or in some cases both. Eventually it died down as the tower went to sleep. At eleven fifty-five I looked around the dormitory to make sure the girls were asleep before I made my way back down to the common room that was now empty. Or at least I thought it was empty until Harry suddenly appeared out of no where. He covered his hand over my mouth before I could scream. “Harry! Where the bloody hell did you come from? Is that invisibility cloak? Where did you get it? Those are really rare, you know.” Harry chuckled at the shock that was still stuck in my voice even after I tried to wipe it off of my face. “It was under the Christmas tree. Apparently it was my father’s. I don’t know who sent it to me. They only said to use it well, and so we shall. We better get a move on.” He draped the invisibility cloak over us before we snuck out of the tower, ignoring the Fat Lady who’s voice was calling out “Who’s there?” down the corridor.
Luckily there was no sign of Filch or Mrs. Norris. Harry led me around dark passageways, retracing his steps from the library to a door next to a suit of armor. He whipped off the cloak and dropped it by the door before he ran to the mirror. “Ron saw himself as Head Boy and Quidditch captain while Gryffindor won both the Quidditch Cup and the House Cup, but whenever I look at it I see my parents. Ron thought it might show the future, but that can’t be possible. My parents are dead.” He tilted his head. His intense stare bore into the mirror, as if he was trying to will his parents out of the mirror, afraid that the image would change and that they would suddenly disappear like sand through his fingers. “I just see you Harry.” After a moment he mentally shook himself out of it and took a step back from the mirror and beckoned me forward. “Look in properly. What do you see?”
The mirror was large, as high as the ceiling. It had an ornate gold frame that stood on two clawed feet. On the top there was a carved inscription that read Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. What language is that, I wondered. Once I was the only one in front of the mirror I gasped for breath and clapped my hands to my mouth. I should have been alone in the mirror, but I wasn’t.
My mum was standing behind me, smiling as she absentmindedly played with my hair. She was my mum, but not the mum I knew. She was the mum I should have known. Her glistening gaze was lost in mine, instead of just being lost at sea. Her waves curled like mine instead of lying limply by her face. Her cheeks were flushed pink and her smile was radiant like in the photographs we have of her and dad of their Hogwarts days. Oh, Dad. His back was straight and not hunched over making him seem older than he was. His hair was neat and the same dark auburn locks that he gave Nev and I. I finally saw the pride in his eyes that I always wished to see. His arm was hanging over Nev’s shoulder. Even Neville looked slightly different. He seemed taller, more confident and comfortable in his own skin. He looked happy. They all did.
I don’t know how much time passed as I kept starring into the mirror. I don’t know when I started crying. All I knew was that a part of me never felt happier and another part of me was heartbroken, because I knew, that whatever this vision in front of me was, it would never be real.
“Back again, Harry? I see you are showing Miss. Longbottom the delights of the Mirror of Erised.” We guiltily turned around to see Professor Dumbledore standing in the corner of the classroom. “I trust by now you realize what it does?” He continued at our silence. “I’ll give you a clue. The happiest man on earth would look into the mirror and see only himself, exactly as he is.”
“So it shows us what we want? Whatever we want.” Harry inferred. “Yes and no,” Dumbledore answered quietly. “It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, and most desperate desires of our hearts. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. Now both of you have never really known your parents, so when you look into the mirror you see them standing happily beside you. But remember this, this mirror gives us neither knowledge nor truth. Men have wasted away in front of it. Even gone mad. That is why tomorrow it will be moved to a new home, and I must ask that neither of you go looking for it again. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don’t you two put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?”
I turned back to the mirror and my heart broke again, knowing that this was the only time I would ever see my parents like this. “Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?” I asked hesitantly. “Obviously, you’ve just done so. You may ask me one more thing, however.” he smiled. “What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
“I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.” Harry and I stared. “One can never have enough socks,” Dumbledore said. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People insist on giving me books.” While I thought he was lying to hide whatever he actually saw in the mirror, I didn’t question it. I understood, it was a personal question. However, I didn’t think he was lying about wanting a pair of thick woolen socks. The man had a point. I made a mental note to give Professor Dumbledore a pair of socks for Christmas next year.
Harry and I quietly made our way back to Gryffindor tower under his invisibility cloak. “Are your parents dead too?” Harry whispered. The vision from the Mirror of Erised flashed again in my mind. I looked up at the ceiling, trying to blink away my tears before any fell as evidence. Luckily it was dark and I was walking in front of Harry, so he wouldn’t have been able to see me if a tear broke free. “No,” I could feel his questioning stare burning into the back of my head. “I don’t really like talking about it.” Somehow I felt Harry nod behind me, don’t ask me how. “Well, if you ever do want to talk about it, I’m here. Okay?” I turned my head to smile at him. “Thanks Harry.”
Once I was back in my bed in the girls dormitory I laid down and closed my eyes. My parents looked back at me. Ty crawled up the bed from where she was resting at my feet. I cuddled her to my chest and buried my face into her fur as I silently cried myself to sleep.