He had to start somewhere. Setting the lamp down carefully on the floor, he looked
along the bottom shelf for an interestinglooking book. A large black and silver
volume caught his eye. He pulled it out with difficulty, because it was very heavy,
and, balancing it on his knee, let it fall open.
A piercing, bloodcurdling shriek split the silence — the book was screaming!
Harry snapped it shut, but the shriek went on and on, one high, unbroken, earsplitting
note. He stumbled backward and knocked over his lamp, which went out at once. Panicking,
he heard footsteps coming down the corridor outside — stuffing the shrieking book
back on the shelf, he ran for it. He passed Filch in the doorway; Filch's pale,
wild eyes looked straight through him, and Harry slipped under Filch's outstretched
arm and streaked off up the corridor, the book's shrieks still ringing in his ears.
He came to a sudden halt in front of a tall suit of armor. He had been so busy
getting away from the library, he hadn't paid attention to where he was going. Perhaps
because it was dark, he didn't recognize where he was at all. There was a suit of
armor near the kitchens, he knew, but he must be five floors above there.
"You asked me to come directly to you, Professor, if anyone was wandering around
at night, and somebody's been in the library Restricted Section."
Harry felt the blood drain out of his face. Wherever he was, Filch must know
a shortcut, because his soft, greasy voice was getting nearer, and to his horror,
it was Snape who replied, "The Restricted Section? Well, they can't be far, we'll
Harry stood rooted to the spot as Filch and Snape came around the corner ahead.
They couldn't see him, of course, but it was a narrow corridor and if they came
much nearer they'd knock right into him — the cloak didn't stop him from being solid.
He backed away as quietly as he could. A door stood ajar to his left. It was
his only hope. He squeezed through it, holding his breath, trying not to move it,
and to his relief he managed to get inside the room without their noticing anything.
They walked straight past, and Harry leaned against the wall, breathing deeply,
listening to their footsteps dying away. That had been close, very close. It was
a few seconds before he noticed anything about the room he had hidden in.
It looked like an unused classroom. The dark shapes of desks and chairs were
piled against the walls, and there was an upturned wastepaper basket — but propped
against the wall facing him was something that didn't look as if it belonged there,
something that looked as if someone had just put it there to keep it out of the
It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame,
standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised
stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. His panic fading now that there was no sound
of Filch and Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself
but see no reflection again. He stepped in front of it.
He had to clap his hands to his mouth to stop himself from screaming. He whirled
around. His heart was pounding far more furiously than when the book had screamed
— for he had seen not only himself in the mirror, but a whole crowd of people standing
right behind him.
But the room was empty. Breathing very fast, he turned slowly back to the mirror.
There he was, reflected in it, white and scared-looking, and there, reflected
behind him, were at least ten others. Harry looked over his shoulder — but still,
no one was there. Or were they all invisible, too? Was he in fact in a room full
of invisible people and this mirror's trick was that it reflected them, invisible
He looked in the mirror again. A woman standing right behind his reflection was
smiling at him and waving. He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him. If
she was really there, he'd touch her, their reflections were so close together,
but he felt only air — she and the others existed only in the mirror.
She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes — her eyes are
just like mine, Harry thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green
— exactly the same shape, but then he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but
crying at the same time. The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put
his arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It stuck up at
the back, just as Harry's did.
Harry was so close to the mirror now that his nose was nearly touching that of
"Mom?" he whispered. "Dad?"
They just looked at him, smiling. And slowly, Harry looked into the faces of
the other people in the mirror, and saw other pairs of green eyes like his, other
noses like his, even a little old man who looked as though he had Harry's knobbly
knees — Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life.
The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his
hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through
it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible
How long he stood there, he didn't know. The reflections did not fade and he
looked and looked until a distant noise brought him back to his senses. He couldn't
stay here, he had to find his way back to bed. He tore his eyes away from his mother's
face, whispered, "I'll come back," and hurried from the room.
"You could have woken me up," said Ron, crossly.
"You can come tonight, I'm going back, I want to show you the mirror.
"I'd like to see your mom and dad," Ron said eagerly.
"And I want to see all your family, all the Weasleys, you'll be able to show
me your other brothers and everyone."
"You can see them any old time," said Ron. "Just come round my house this summer.
Anyway, maybe it only shows dead people. Shame about not finding Flamel, though.
Have some bacon or something, why aren't you eating anything?"
Harry couldn't eat. He had seen his parents and would be seeing them again tonight.
He had almost forgotten about Flamel. It didn't seem very important anymore. Who
cared what the three headed dog was guarding? What did it matter if Snape stole
"Are you all right?" said Ron. "You look odd."
What Harry feared most was that he might not be able to find the mirror room
again. With Ron covered in the cloak, too, they had to walk much more slowly the
next night. They tried retracing Harry's route from the library, wandering around
the dark passageways for nearly an hour.
"I'm freezing," said Ron. "Let's forget it and go back."
"No!" Harry hissed. I know it's here somewhere."
They passed the ghost of a tall witch gliding in the opposite direction, but
saw no one else. just as Ron started moaning that his feet were dead with cold,
Harry spotted the suit of armor.
"It's here — just here — yes!"
They pushed the door open. Harry dropped the cloak from around his shoulders
and ran to the mirror.
There they were. His mother and father beamed at the sight of him.
"See?" Harry whispered.
"I can't see anything."
"Look! Look at them all... there are loads of them...."
"I can only see you."
"Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am."
Harry stepped aside, but with Ron in front of the mirror, he couldn't see his
family anymore, just Ron in his paisley pajamas.
Ron, though, was staring transfixed at his image.
"Look at me!" he said.
"Can you see all your family standing around you?"
"No — I'm alone — but I'm different — I look older — and I'm head boy!"
"I am — I'm wearing the badge like Bill used to — and I'm holding the house cup
and the Quidditch cup — I'm Quidditch captain, too.
Ron tore his eyes away from this splendid sight to look excitedly at Harry.
"Do you think this mirror shows the future?"
"How can it? All my family are dead — let me have another look - — "
"You had it to yourself all last night, give me a bit more time."
"You're only holding the Quidditch cup, what's interesting about that? I want
to see my parents."
"Don't push me - — "
A sudden noise outside in the corridor put an end to their discussion. They hadn't
realized how loudly they had been talking.
Ron threw the cloak back over them as the luminous eyes of Mrs. Norris came round
the door. Ron and Harry stood quite still, both thinking the same thing — did the
cloak work on cats? After what seemed an age, she turned and left.
"This isn't safe — she might have gone for Filch, I bet she heard us. Come on."
And Ron pulled Harry out of the room.
The snow still hadn't melted the next morning.
"Want to play chess, Harry?" said Ron.
"Why don't we go down and visit Hagrid?"
"No... you go..."
"I know what you're thinking about, Harry, that mirror. Don't go back tonight."
"I dunno, I've just got a bad feeling about it — and anyway, you've had too many
close shaves already. Filch, Snape, and Mrs. Norris are wandering around. So what
if they can't see you? What if they walk into you? What if you knock something over?"
"You sound like Hermione."
"I'm serious, Harry, don't go."
But Harry only had one thought in his head, which was to get back in front of
the mirror, and Ron wasn't going to stop him.
That third night he found his way more quickly than before. He was walking so
fast he knew he was making more noise than was wise, but he didn't meet anyone.
And there were his mother and father smiling at him again, and one of his grandfathers
nodding happily. Harry sank down to sit on the floor in front of the mirror. There
was nothing to stop him from staying here all night with his family. Nothing at
"So — back again, Harry?"
Harry felt as though his insides had turned to ice. He looked behind him. Sitting
on one of the desks by the wall was none other than Albus Dumbledore. Harry must
have walked straight past him, so desperate to get to the mirror he hadn't noticed
" — I didn't see you, sir."
"Strange how nearsighted being invisible can make you," said Dumbledore, and
Harry was relieved to see that he was smiling.
"So," said Dumbledore, slipping off the desk to sit on the floor with Harry,
"you, like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised."
"I didn't know it was called that, Sir."
"But I expect you've realized by now what it does?"
"It — well — it shows me my family - — "
"And it showed your friend Ron himself as head boy."
"How did you know --?"
"I don't need a cloak to become invisible," said Dumbledore gently. "Now, can
you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?"
Harry shook his head.
"Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of
Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly
as he is. Does that help?"
Harry thought. Then he said slowly, "It shows us what we want... whatever we
"Yes and no," said Dumbledore quietly. "It shows us nothing more or less than
the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your
family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed
by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However,
this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before
it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it
shows is real or even possible.
"The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to
go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don't
you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?"
Harry stood up.
"Sir — Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?"
"Obviously, you've just done so," Dumbledore smiled. "You may ask me one more
"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."
It was only when he was back in bed that it struck Harry that Dumbledore might
not have been quite truthful. But then, he thought, as he shoved Scabbers off his
pillow, it had been quite a personal question.
Dumbledore had convinced Harry not to go looking for the Mirror of Erised again,
and for the rest of the Christmas holidays the invisibility cloak stayed folded
at the bottom of his trunk. Harry wished he could forget what he'd seen in the mirror
as easily, but he couldn't. He started having nightmares. Over and over again he
dreamed about his parents disappearing in a flash of green light, while a high voice
cackled with laughter.
"You see, Dumbledore was right, that mirror could drive you mad," said Ron, when
Harry told him about these drearns.
Hermione, who came back the day before term started, took a different view of
things. She was torn between horror at the idea of Harry being out of bed, roaming
the school three nights in a row ("If Filch had caught you!"), and disappointment
that he hadn't at least found out who Nicolas Flamel was.