Neville Longbottom and the Mirror of Erised
AN: Okay this has been floating around on my computer for a while, finally decided to post it. It was originally written for a writing contest on a roleplay site, which I didn't end up finishing in time to submit. But I always wanted to write something Neville-centric anyway, this just gave me the opportunity. Hope you enjoy it! ~Artemis
Prompt: Choose any Harry Potter cannon character and write up a scene in which they find the Mirror of Erised.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except a ridiculous obsession with anything Harry Potter... and a special love and obsession with Neville Longbottom, the true Gryffindor!
Neville Longbottom and the Mirror of Erised
Neville Longbottom trudged dismally out of the dungeons, trying to fight back tears. He had spent the last two hours locked into the cold stone classroom scratching dried potion ingredients off the tables, all the while being berated and insulted by his worst nightmare. The drawling stab of Snape's words had hurt him far more than the cold or the splinters in his fingers from the aged tables.
If he could only do things right for once then he wouldn't have to deal with these detentions. All he'd done was add a little too much powdered porcupine quills to his chilling potion and it had frozen him and the five students near him solid. Being defrosted only to find out that he had a week's detention with Snape made him wish Madame Pomfrey would just turn him into a human icicle again. Anything to avoid that torture.
The hallways were empty as he trudged along, which was a good thing because Neville was having a difficult time keeping the miserable expression off his face. It was now after hours, Snape having kept him so late, but still he kept his face turned down just in case. The last thing he needed was to have one of his fellow students catch him crying after a little detention. They took the mickey often enough, he didn't want to give them more to go off. His mind was briefly filled with images of some older student finding him and ridiculing him, laughing to everyone about the stupid little first year that couldn't even handle scraping tables. Or, possibly even worse, running into his friends, if he could go as far to call them that since he could tell they didn't really like him, and having them see what a baby he is.
His steps slowed as he reached the Fat Lady's portrait and she blinked at him, twisting a handkerchief between her fingers. "Password?" she asked. Neville's heart fell. What was it? He had remembered it this morning after lunch. What had it been? He struggled to remember the words, but they wouldn't come to him.
"I don't remember," he said pitifully, hoping she would be nice to him.
"Sorry," the Fat Lady responded, not really sounding like she meant it. "No password, no entry." Then she went back to her handkerchief, ignoring the sob that escaped him while she folded the square of cloth and tucked it into her sleeve. Neville groaned loudly, sinking to the floor. He didn't know what he'd been expecting; she'd never been nice and given in before. Leaning against the wall, he drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped them in his arms, resigned to waiting for someone else to let him in. As usual.
Why did these things always seem to happen to him? It was like he was a magnet for trouble and bad luck. He didn't mean to forget everything, but for some reason it just wouldn't stay in his head. And he didn't mean to be clumsy or slow, his body just didn't seem to want to cooperate like other peoples' did.
The scuffing sound of footsteps in the corridor made Neville jump up. Maybe that was another student who could let him in. However at the same moment he stepped out into the wide hall, a loud mewling reached his ears. He looked down and saw Mrs. Norris', the caretaker's scary cat, leering up at him with her glowing eyes. Panic sank into him as the steps got closer, accompanied by a wheezy breathing. Filch!
Thinking only of the possible detention that he would be facing if the caretaker found him out of his common room after night, Neville turned on his heel and ran off down the hall. He raced, blindly, for several minutes, fully aware of the rushed steps behind him. A staircase surprised him and he let out a yelp as he tumbled down the stairs and straight toward a tapestry. His bruised body rolled beneath the tapestry and to his surprise, instead of hitting the wall, he found himself in yet another corridor. Filch's voice had vanished, and as he looked around, Neville recognized the statue of Herbert the Heckler, which he was pretty sure usually stood on the first floor. Somehow he had gone from the sixth floor to the first when he passed through that tapestry. And, realizing just how far this took him from his pursuer, he was suddenly extremely thankful for Hogwarts' many magical passageways that usually made his life more difficult.
The sight of a ghost floating past the end of the corridor made Neville leap up again and he hurried into the nearest doorway, closing it carefully behind him. This door had led to an empty classroom, judging by the upturned desks against the wall. He put an ear to the door but could hear no one outside. Neville turned around, letting out a breath of relief. That breath turned into a strangled squeak of fear when he realized the room was not empty.
Clapping his hands over his mouth, Neville met the eyes of the other person. Familiar. Strangely so. As his heart rate steadied, his eyes panned up and down the figure and he felt a sort of still jittery amusement. There was no other person; he was looking at his own reflection in a giant, gilded mirror that stood in the middle of the room. What in the name of Merlin's grandmother was a mirror like this doing in an empty classroom? It was definitely not an ordinary looking glass, being almost twice as tall as his diminutive height, with a frame engraved with runes and standing on clawed feet that instantly made him think of dragons.
Curiosity overpowering his alarm, Neville took a timid step toward it, eyeing the reflection on the glass. Something about it seemed off. As he got closer, he realized that his reflection was several inches taller than him, and his cheeks less rounded, and he was grinning cheekily. He looked older and more confident. What was this, a mirror enchanted to make you look better?
Quite suddenly his reflection abandoned all pretence of being a, well, normal-ish reflection. In a grand gesture, the mirror-Neville whipped out his wand. Performing a series of complicated flourishes that Neville had no hope of mastering in real life, his reflection began shooting out an array of brightly coloured spells that disappeared beyond the frame of the mirror. He never saw what they achieved but he could tell that they were all difficult spells and that his reflection was impressively talented.
The rain of spells stopped for a brief moment as his reflection paused and then turned to grin at the people who had appeared on either side of him. When they smiled back he returned to his show, but Neville's attention had been properly diverted. There were two people, one of them on either side of the reflection-self, one a man with a cheery face and thinning hair, and the other a woman with a pleasant, round face.
"My parents…" Neville breathed in awe, the realization making his chest seize up. Without thinking about it, he had taken two large steps closer and his hand was reaching out toward the glass. His parents. He couldn't remember them ever looking so healthy or so happy. They looked like they did in the old pictures he had nicked from Gran, the ones he kept locked up in a box at the bottom of his trunk. His mum was dabbing at her teary eyes with a handkerchief, beaming at her son's reflection. His dad had placed a hand on mirror-Neville's shoulder, squeezing it and muttered something repeatedly. Neville had to stare at his lips for a handful of minutes to read what he was saying.
"So proud…so proud…"
There was a dull ache in Neville's chest as he sat down heavily in front of the mirror, watching his reflection being self-confident and his parents expressing their pride. Inside he was wishing more than anything that it were true; that he could make his parents proud of him. His parents had been so great, truly talented Aurors. Everyone told him how good they were but he just couldn't live up to that family name. He was clumsy and untalented and forgetful. He would never be as great a hero as they had been. If only he could prove he was truly a Longbottom. If only he could truly make them proud…
A loud clatter from the floor above made Neville jump in fright again. He had no idea how long he'd been sitting there, but he didn't want to risk getting caught. Scrambling up from the cold stones, he cast one last longing look at the scene in the mirror and then headed for the door. Poking his head out into the corridor, he saw it was deserted. He crept carefully to the tapestry he had fallen through, and found himself this time at the head of a staircase he didn't recognize. A little wandering brought him to the foot of the Astronomy tower, which he quickly hurried away from. Getting caught out at night was bad, but being caught in the Astronomy tower, which was out-of-bounds except for classes, was infinitely worse. At least now he knew where he was, and he only got turned around once more on the way back to the Common Room.
The Fat Lady was asleep when he got back but it didn't matter; he still hadn't remembered the password anyway. With a tired sigh, he settled himself down on the floor beneath the portrait, wrapping his robes tighter around himself. Folding his legs up to his chest again, he set his chin on his knees and closed his eyes. In his head he could perfectly picture the image from the mirror and, despite being freezing cold and uncomfortable on the stone floor, not to mention still sore from his detention with Snape, a small smile settled on his face. Not too long after, he drifted off, still thinking about his own self-assured expression and his parents' proud faces.