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the center will hold

Lily Evans had never been the sort of girl to seek out her Fate. Rather, she believed her Fate would come to her. She didn’t believe in finding The One, or having her fortune foretold. She lived in the moment. She seized the day.

In times like this, there was no use in dwelling on future dreams.

It was as if the door had appeared out of thin air. There she was on the Seventh Floor, pacing back and forth in the darkness, when the tall mahogany doorway revealed itself. Lily froze in her gait, and blinked at the wall. Even in a place like Hogwarts, Lily was not used to doors presenting themselves unannounced.

Her mind full of confusion and curiosity, she carefully took a step towards it. It towered above her, intricately fashioned with a spiralling design on the front. The tarnished silver doorknob glinted in the dim torchlight, winking at her as she approached. If it had been any other night, Lily would have turned her back and walked away. After all, secret doors usually remained so for a reason. However, this was not any other night and Lily was already breaking school rules for being out of bed.

Curling her fingers ever so gently around the knob, Lily opened the door. It swung back without effort.

On the other side of the mysterious, mahogany door was one of the most ethereal rooms Lily had ever seen. Stone beams stretched across the ceiling as soft, tendrils of silk fell down. It was dusty and untouched. At first, Lily was reluctant to step in, as not to disturb the eerie peace.

In the end, curiosity outweighed her concern for peace, and she strode into the centre of the room. Dust rose in swirls around her as she walked towards the single standing object; a mirror. It was large, taller than herself, and a delicate gold framed the edges. A layer of thick, grey powder covered the entirety of the glass.

Lily swept her hand over it, collecting the dust against her palm. As she did, she swore whispers filled the room. She jerked backwards, her dusty hand dropping to her side, and glanced around. The door had shut behind her, leaving her alone in the room.

“Hello?” she murmured, frowning as her eyes scanned the room. No reply came; only the sound of her heart pounding in her chest. Looking back to the mirror, she caught the etching of a phrase against the golden frame. Her fingers ran across it.

Erised stra ehru oys ube cafru oyt on woshi.

She frowned. It wasn’t a language she was familiar with. Her gaze dragged down to the glass of the mirror, only to meet her reflection.

Except it wasn’t.

Lily’s breath caught in her chest. Wrinkles scored into her skin as she squinted at her reflection. Her hands reached reflexively to her face, but the skin her fingers ran over was smooth. Still, her reflection mimicked the action as it touched to deep grooves. What once was hair of fire had settled to the colour of muddy autumn leaves. She was looking at herself in the mirror, only forty years older.

Air slipped from between her lips in a slight sigh. There was a feeling in her chest that she couldn’t describe; a mixture of longing, anticipation and fear. Her hand quickly fumbled her wand from inside her robe. Perhaps the mirror had some sort of aging spell cast upon it. She murmured a soft, general counter jinx but her reflection remained the same.

She was seeing her future, and it terrified her.

“Interesting,” a voice mused from behind her. Almost dropping her wand, Lily span to see the willowy figure of her headmaster standing by the door. Dumbledore sent her a watery smile. Dressed only in his pyjamas, and his wiry beard in an intricate braid, he nodded towards the mirror. “I often wondered whether you might stumble upon this.”

The panic that had blossomed in her chest at the thought of being caught dissolved. She swallowed back. “What is it, sir?”

He strode towards his, pursing his lips contemplatively. “A witch of your ability should be able to reveal that for herself.”

Heat rose to her cheeks in a flush. She turned back to her reflection, frowning once again at the older version of herself. Allowing herself to reach out, her fingers barely brushed the glass.

“Some sort of foretelling device,” she offered. “Like a crystal ball?”

Dumbledore let out a slight chuckle, to which Lily felt suddenly embarrassed. “That answer isn’t necessarily incorrect. Some people may look into the Mirror of Erised and, indeed, see their futures. Others, however, may not.”

There was a long moment of silence as Lily dropped her hand from the glass. The older reflection looked back at her, happiness lighting her bottle green eyes. Happiness that Lily hadn’t seen in her true reflection in quite some months.

“What do you see?” he asked softly, coming to her side.

Lily frowned. Shouldn’t he see the same thing? But as he came to her side, his reflection did not join her own. “Myself,” she finally said. “But older.”

“That is most curious.” His ran a hand over his twisted beard. “Let me ask you this, Miss Evans: what is it that you most desire?”

His question startled her. In the past few months of warnings and disappearances, Lily had not had the chance to contemplate what she wanted. Her attention had been on the greater good, and on those who needed it. She didn’t know what she desired most. Peace? Freedom?

The answer shot through her like a stunning spell.

“To survive,” she barely whispered, her breath coming out cold into the air. It hung heavily, as if it was echoing between the walls. She turned to look at Dumbledore, only to find him gone once again. She turned, scanning the room in confusion, only to find herself alone.

Alone with her reflection.

Looking back at the mirror, it was as if the answer was plastered across the glass all along. Older Lily smiled at her, as if to congratulate her cleverness. She stepped towards her reflection, once again bringing her fingers to the glass. That was what she most desired. The grumblings of the war were beginning to rush through the castle like a harsh wind, and Lily feared she might not end the year alive. What she wanted most to survive, to get through the war and grow old.

Lily Evans had never been to sort of girl to seek out her future, but more than anything she hoped her future was long. 

drabble by Holly

19:12pm + 278
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