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Fic: Mirrored Desire

Story Title:  Mirrored Desire
Character/Relationships: Albus Dumbledore, Unrequited Dumbledore/Grindelwald
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Addiction, of sorts
Summary: "You can waste away before it, he said. He didn't add, I have." - Albus Dumbledore's relationship with the Mirror of Erised.
AN: This was written for the second challenge of the second round of harrypotter_las. The journal's since been purged and I can't remember the prompt, so if anyone does, message me and I'll update this.

Mirrored Desire

He had uncovered the mirror when he was young, when he had been the eccentric but brilliant Transfiguration Professor, around whom no one was really comfortable. After all, hadn't his dad tortured muggles, and you had heard, hadn't you? About his sister's funeral? But he was good at his job, and people forgot, eventually, moved on. But no one was close and it gave him a great deal of time to explore.

It was the shock of his life to pull of the sheet and find a mirror with that face staring out at him, eyes softened by love. Well, not the shock of his life – he wished it had been, oh how he wished there had been nothing worse – but had he been an old man then, well… One of the worst things had been realising what loving would actually have looked like on that face he had thought he had known so well. It was the final nail in the coffin of his hopes of redemption. He had sold his soul for a handful of whispered falsehoods, and sometimes he could even convince himself he wouldn't do it again.

He had read book after book on the mirror, but first-hand research was obviously a necessity. Just for an hour a day, maybe two if he really needed it. When he could no longer use the excuse of expanding his knowledge, it was about knowing himself. After all, one day he would look at that image in the mirror and it would be something else smiling back at him. His sister, his parents, his family, his friends. Normal ambitions, maybe, like wealth, respect, becoming Minister, or Headmaster. Not the love of a man who wanted to enslave the world and had been responsible for the murder or attempted murder of his entire family.

If he were truly honest, he might say that he only felt truly alive for those minutes he allowed himself to stare into those eyes. He would sit there and talk; say all those things he had never dared to say to the man himself. He tried to pretend that he wasn't more himself there than he had been anywhere else.

There were times when he really thought that he would see something else, times that he would convince himself that this last thing had really broken that hold, that noose of silk and golden thread. The first mass slaughter, the butchering of a child, things so horrific people would speak of them in hushed tones. By the time he got to the mirror, he would be certain that this time something normal would greet him from the depths behind its enchanted surface, but every time it was that same expression of loving contentment, painted onto the same face. He would occasionally convince himself he was disappointed.

Even after he trapped the man in the prison of his own making – he couldn't kill him, could never kill him, could barely convince himself to stand up to him – those eyes in the mirror never changed, never wavered in their manufactured affection. Time passed, years went by, and he still could not convince himself to give up the mirror.

Until that eleven-year-old boy sat in his spot, staring up at images that weren't there. You can waste away before it, he said. He didn't add, I have.

It would go at the end of the tunnel. Quite a clever way of keeping the stone safe, really. He told no one that there were easier ways, better ways. He couldn't destroy the mirror, but he could keep it away from himself, guarded by challengers he would have to face.

And just for one minute, he might be able to convince himself that was enough to keep him away.

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