The next morning was as ordinary as the last. They got up in the morning, ate breakfast, and lazed around, just like usual.
"Want to play chess, Harry?" Asked Ron.
"No, go play with Arth."
"No, I really don't want to play with him. Why don't we go down and visit Hagrid?"
"No... you go..."
Arth, who had been quietly listening to the conversation, suddenly decided to speak up.
"Stop It Harry."
"Don't do it, I know what you're thinking. Don't go back to the mirror."
"...It's not good for you."
"I'm serious Harry, don't go."
They sat there in awkward silence until Ron gave an attempt to break the ice.
"Soo... anyone wanna play chess?"
That night, Harry once again left at night to see the mirror. He entered the room, and saw his parents waving back at him. It was just Harry and his family, the family he could've had.
"I thought I told you to not come back Harry."
Standing in a dark corner was Arth, emotionlessly staring at him. Harry only just realized how demented Arth looked. His eyes were bloodshot and had visible dark circles beneath his eyes. His skin was unnaturally pale while his hair was all disheveled.
"... I don't care."
Arth just continued to stare at Harry, causing Harry to shift around in guilt.
"...There is a reason why I told you to stay away from this place. Staring into the mirror isn't healthy."
"...what do you mean."
Arth took a glance at the mirror.
"Do you know what the writing engraved into the frame reads?"
"Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi, or, I show not your face but your heart's desire. Do you understand the purpose of the mirror? The reason why I'm telling you to stay away from it?"
"... I don't know."
"Let me give you a hint," said Arth with a bland smile. "When you see it, you see yourself surrounded by a family who provides you with love, when Ron stares into the mirror, he sees himself surpassing all of his brothers, being the best of them all."
"The mirror... it shows us what we desire."
"Yes," said Arth, a shadow seemed to grow on his face, causing him to look as though he was going through extreme agony. "It shows us the deepest desire in our hearts. The more we look into it, the more we earn, the more we fall. Harry, the mirror doesn't tell the future, nor grant us a wish. It only seeks to show. It is false. It is a fake reality of joy that will only cause you to sink further into madness, until you lose everything. That is why I am telling you to stay away from it."
Harry stood up.
"Before I go... can I ask you something?"
"What is it?"
"What do you see in the mirror?"
Arth went silent.
"I see myself holding a book, a book that holds the answer to everything."
Harry let out a forced laugh before putting on his invisibility cloak.
"That's so like you..."
Arth blankly stared at the wall across him before speaking out loud.
"Professor, I know you are there. You can come out now."
Sitting on one of the desks by the wall was none other than Albus Dumbledore.
"I must say, your eyes are quiet sharp. Or should I say intuition. I had some confidence in my cloaking ability but it seems I was a bit lax."
"You weren't even attempting to hide your presence all that well. You can stop pretending."
"... it seems I have really underestimated you, Arthur."
Silence filled the room once more.
"Can I ask you a question, Professor."
"Ask away my child."
"What do you see when you look in the mirror."
"I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks."
"One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books."
"Stop lying, I can tell you are lying."
"... a sharp intuition indeed. However, it seems fair as you did the same to young mister Potter."
"You are correct. I did lie."
"And why is that?"
"For the same reason as you."
Dumbledore stared into the mirror with a sad look.
"It seems that we have a lot more in common than I had thought Arthur. A lot more."
He got up from the desk.
"May I ask you what you see in the mirror of Erised?"
"What a fitting name..." Arth replied as he too got up. "A mirror that shows you your desires, yet spelled backwards to show that it does not show what is up ahead and the spacing purposely rearranged to be incorrect to show it does not tell truths.
"An interesting interpretation mister Arthur, however, you did not answer my question."
"I see a reality I yearn for, a place I want to return to. I see a dream that only pains me for I know that some things are meant to stay a certain way. Some things shouldn't be touched. What I see in the mirror, is something that I want, yet also something I want to erase. The thing that I desire, is also the thing that I fear the most."
"...The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow."
"I do not care, in fact, I'd rather wish it to disappear."
"I shall get going, mister Arthur. And do be careful to not get caught."
"It's ok, I won't get found unless I want to."
Arth walked out of the room, calmly and steadily. He walked boldly in the hallway without a care for whether he would get caught or not, however, the shadows seemed to hide him as he walked by.
The next morning, Harry stiffly greeted Arthur, which he replied to with a nod. It became a silent agreement to not share what had happened between the two.
Harry started to get more busy as Wood started to train the team even harder than before. On day after finishing his practice, Harry came into the common room with a dark look. Ron and Hermione were playing chess while Arth watched from the sidelines.
"Don't talk to me for a moment," said Ron when Harry sat down next to him, "I need to concen - He caught sight of Harry's face. "What's the matter with you? You look terrible."
Speaking quietly so that no one else would hear, Harry told them about Snape's sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch referee.
"Don't play," said Hermione at once.
"Say you're ill," said Ron.
"Pretend to break your leg," Hermione suggested.
"Really break your leg," said Ron.
"I can't," said Harry. "There isn't a reserve Seeker. If I back out, Gryffindor can't play at all."
"Play legit and win then. Simple as that." Said Arth. "And remember, we aren't sure if Snape was really trying to kill Harry. He might have been trying to save him."
At that moment Neville toppled into the common room. How he had managed to climb through the portrait hole was anyone's guess, because his legs had been stuck together with what they recognized at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower.
Everyone fell over laughing except Hermione, who leapt up and performed the counter-curse. Neville's legs sprang apart and he got to his feet, trembling.
"What happened?" Hermione asked him, leading him over to sit with Harry and Ron.
"Malfoy," said Neville shakily. "I met him outside the library. He said he'd been looking for someone to practice that on."
"Go to Professor McGonagall!" Hermione urged Neville. "Report him!"
Neville shook his head.
"I don't want more trouble," he mumbled.
"You've got to stand up to him, Neville!" said Ron. "He's used to walking all over people, but that's no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier."
"There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that," Neville choked out.
"Just curse him back Neville."
"I can't, you know how bad I am with spells."
"Don't you know how terrifying you are? I'd be more scared if you pointed your wand at me than if Hermione pointed hers at me. Trust me, Malfoy would probably get scared too."
"You're worth twelve of Malfoy," Harry said. "The Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn't it? And where's Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin."
Neville's lips twitched in a weak smile.
"Thanks, Harry... I think I'll go to bed. Good night."
It was the day of the match. After giving Harry some quick prep talk, they walked back to the stands.
"I've never seen Snape look so mean," Ron told Hermione. "Look -they're off Ouch!"
Someone had poked Ron in the back of the head. It was Malfoy.
"Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you there."
Malfoy grinned broadly at Crabbe and Goyle.
"Wonder how long Potter's going to stay on his broom this time? Anyone want a bet? What about you, Weasley?"
Ron didn't answer; Snape had just awarded Hufflepuff a penalty because George Weasley had hit a Bludger at him. Hermione, who had all her fingers crossed in her lap, was squinting fixedly at Harry, who was circling the game like a hawk, looking for the Snitch.
"You know how I think they choose people for the Gryffindor team?" said Malfoy loudly a few minutes later, as Snape awarded Hufflepuff another penalty for no reason at all. "It's people they feel sorry for. See,
there's Potter, who's got no parents, then there's the Weasleys, who've got no money, you should be on the team, Longbottom, you've got no brains."
Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy.
"I'm worth twelve of you, Malfoy," he stammered.
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle howled with laughter, but Ron, still not daring to take his eyes from the game, said, "You tell him, Neville."
"Longbottom, if brains were gold you'd be poorer than Weasley, and that's saying something."
"If your attitude matched the amount of talent you had, you would be as strong as Dumbledore."
Arth was very close to cursing Malfoy. Both verbally and physically.
Ron's nerves were already stretched to the breaking point with anxiety about Harry.
"I'm warning you, Malfoy, one more word-"
"Ron!" said Hermione suddenly, "Harry -"
Harry had suddenly gone into a spectacular dive, which drew gasps and cheers from the crowd. Hermione stood up, her crossed fingers in her mouth, as Harry streaked toward the ground like a bullet.
"You're in luck, Weasley, Potter's obviously spotted some money on the ground!" said Malfoy.
Ron snapped. Before Malfoy knew what was happening, Ron was on top of him, wrestling him to the ground. Neville hesitated, then clambered over the back of his seat to help. One of them, either Crabbe or Goyle smacked Arth in the head, with his recent bad mood and lack of sleep combined, Arth lost it.
Ron and Neville backed away as Arth single handedly kicked all three of their asses.
"Do you seriously think you can beat a muggle born in a muggle fight? You should be ashamed, can't even beat a FILTHY MUDBLOOD in magic so you resort to physical fighting? YOU FILTHY SON OF A-(Massive sensor warning, to graphic to actually write, don't want to get demonetized.) -YOU TRASH!"
By the time Arth had finished, Malfoy was barely recognizable while both Crabbe and Goyle resembled trolls, maybe even uglier.
Arth gave a refreshed smile.
"Letting off some steam seems to be a great stress reliever, dam I feel great."
Ron was dumbstruck while Neville was filled with admiration. Hermione turned around and saw the scene, and felt conflicted on whether she was proud or worried.
"What if they tell on us?"
"I'll erase a portion of their memories, I've done it before."
"Do you think this is the first time if fought with these three?"
Ron swore to never ever again try to piss Arth off.
The stands erupted, Harry had gotten the snitch.
The Gryffindors partied all day in the common room, Fred and George had once more brought more food from the kitchen.
However, Harry had once more discovered a new thing.
"So we were right, it is the Sorcerer's Stone, and Snape's trying to force Quirrell to help him get it. He asked if he knew how to get past Fluffy - and he said something about Quirrell's 'hocus Pocus - I reckon there are other things guarding the stone apart from Fluffy, loads of enchantments, probably, and Quirrell would have done some anti-Dark Arts spell that Snape needs to break through."
"So you mean the Stone's only safe as long as Quirrell stands up to Snape?" said Hermione in alarm.
"It'll be gone by next Tuesday," said Ron.
"Can you guys please stop automatically assuming that Snape is in the wrong?"
"No one cares Arth."
Arth let out a sigh before pulling out a book, feeling a bit refreshed yet still somewhat tired.