23rd December 1991
Mark watched as the Express pulled into Platform nine-and-three-quarters. He was going home for Christmas break along with Neville. Fred and George, along with Percy, and Ron were staying in the castle for the break as their parents had gone to visit their older brother Charlie in Romania. Harry was also staying over for the break, and from what Mark could figure out, he wasn't that fond of the people with whom he lived. Mark had stopped trying to use legilimency on him after a total of three attempts which had failed.
As the train slowed to a halt, Mark and Neville got up and got their luggage out of the carriage. After a brief goodbye and greetings for the season, they parted ways. Mark walked out of the barrier and spotted Edwin standing near a newspaper stand.
"Hey, kiddo. You've grown." The older man remarked. Mark gave him a one-armed hug,
"Nice to see you too," he said dragging his trunk to the parking lot. Mark voiced the question on his mind
"How is he?"
"Good. No, really kid. Your old man is good, just a bit tired today so I volunteered," Edwin said seriously, before smiling
"He just misses you. Not just him." They both heaved the trunk in the boot of the Ford, then seated themselves before driving out. Edwin broke the silence once they were comfortably out of earshot of any innocent eavesdroppers.
"So how was magic school? Have you joined some sort of sports team? John was saying something about quitch-"
"Quidditch. Yes, but I'm just a reserve. You would enjoy watching it." Mark then proceeded to explain all the rules to Edwin on their drive to the Smith's home.
"-and unless the Golden Snitch is caught, the game doesn't end" Mark finished.
"But then there is no time limit, right?" Edwin tried to clarify.
"No. I think the longest game had lasted over three months or something. They subbed in the players every few hours"
"So Son, tell us more about Hogwarts," John said, once they'd all settled in to have dinner. "What all did you learn?"
Mark smiled. His father had been more excited about learning magic than he was. Slightly more.
"Well, we learnt to make boil curing and boil causing potions along with herbicide potions. Basically, we're being taught how all the different ingredients and techniques interact." He took a few bites before he continued,
"We learned basic theory in charms, along with the Lumos and Levitation Charms. It's actually quite interesting how the spells work, you know. We have to know the proper incantation, the correct spell movement, and the proper power draw pattern. We also need to properly visualize the effect the spell would have, and how to manipulate the power draw to alter the effects accordingly. Transfiguration is actually my favourite, you know. I think that with changing the draw pattern I can actually-"
John and Edwin shared a look. Yes, Mark was definitely enjoying Hogwarts.
25th December 1991
"What did you expect, turnips?"
Harry looked at Ron as he proceeded to open the pile of presents on his bed. The last few days had been the best Christmas break that Harry had ever had.
Only Ron and he were occupying the dormitory, and the common room was also a lot emptier, since most of the students, including Hermione, had gone home for the holidays. They had roasted all sorts of foods on the common room fire and spent their time playing wizards chess.
He had gone to bed yesterday looking forward to the feast and the fun they would have today, but he had not been expecting presents. After all, he never had gotten any real Christmas presents. So, it had been a real surprise to not only see presents for him but a small pile of them.
Shaking his thoughts, he opened the one on top. It was from Hagrid and contained a whittled flute. Harry blew on it, and it produced sounds vaguely resembling Hedwig's screeches.
The next was an envelope from the Dursleys. Opening it he read the note inside.
We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Taped to the note was a fifty-pence piece.
"That's friendly," observed Harry, drawing the attention of Ron. His friend seemed fascinated by the piece of currency
"This is muggle money? Weird" he said examining the coin.
"Keep it," Harry said laughing, and Ron's face lit up. Shaking his head in laughter, he moved on to the next parcel.
"I think I know who that one's from," said Ron, turning a bit pink. "My mom. I told her you didn't expect any presents and — oh, no," he groaned, "she's made you a Weasley sweater."
Harry had torn open the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted sweater in emerald green and a large box of homemade fudge.
"Every year she makes us a sweater," said Ron, unwrapping his own, "and mine's always maroon."
"That's really nice of her," said Harry, trying the fudge, which was very tasty.
There were three more parcels. The first which was from Hermione also contained candy - a large box of chocolate frogs. The next was from Mark. Harry felt guilty at this; three of his friends had made sure he got presents, and he had not even given it a thought.
Opening it, he found another article of clothing. It was a black T-shirt, with AC/DC printed on the front. Harry laughed at it since Mark had clearly chosen a band which had a lightning bolt symbol like his scar. He promised himself to get Mark something good later.
Only the last parcel was left. Harry picked and felt it - it was light. Unwrapping it something fluid and silvery slithered to the floor. Ron, who had been eating a box of candy, had a look of awe.
"I've heard of those but never thought I'd see one. They're supposed to be really rare." Ron said slowly. Harry picked it up and asked,
"What is it?"
"I think- put it on. I think it is an invisibility cloak."
Harry donned the cloak and heard Ron gasp
"Look! Look below!" Harry looked down and just as his friend had said, found himself invisible. He looked in the mirror, then pulled the hood of the cloak. He disappeared completely from view.
"Look there's a note!" Ron exclaimed suddenly pointing to the piece of parchment lying on the floor. Harry picked it up and read the note, written in loopy handwriting that he'd never seen before.
Your father left this in my possession before he died. It is time it was returned to you.
Use it well.
A Very Merry Christmas to you.
"Hey champ," John said, sitting beside his son, who was staring out through the window. Mark turned and smiled sadly at his father.
"What's on your mind?" John asked.
"Just what mum would have thought of this. Magic. Hogwarts. Me as a wizard." Mark wondered aloud.
"Your mother would have been proud of you, wizard or not," John asserted slowly. "All she would have ever wanted was for you to grow up to be a good man."
Mark nodded slowly. Living without Sarah Smith had been difficult for both of them, but Christmas Day hit the hardest. It was the anniversary of her death.
Over the years, the two of them had learned to live without Mark's mother. They cooked together, did the chores together, and had fun together. Even though Mark's father had been diagnosed with leukaemia, John had always ensured that they had some fun in their life.
Edwin had helped, becoming an honorary uncle to Mark, caring for him when John was getting his treatments. He had taken Mark to the pool and taught him to swim, and had held him steady when he was learning to ride his bicycle.
Mark had never felt anything missing in his life; neither materialistically nor emotionally. But he had wondered if it would be different with his mother in it.
Mark spoke slowly, turning to his father, his hand slipping underneath his shirt to feel the silver locket.
"Dad, will you tell me about her? How- How she was?"
John raised his eyebrows; his son had never asked him this question directly. Sure, he'd volunteered stories to Mark, and answered the occasional question, but his son had always avoided the topic.
Mark had asked about Sarah to Edwin, as the old sergeant had told him. In many ways, John was jealous of the bond between the two of them. Edwin certainly had been more present for the important moments in his son's life, and John had often felt inadequate as a father.
Looking now at the expectant expression on Mark's face, he smiled before answering,
"Yes son, I will."
27th December 1991
"Back again, Harry?"
Harry froze. He looked behind him slowly, only to see Professor Dumbledore sitting on one of the desks by the wall. He had been in such a hurry to find his way back to the unused classroom, that he must have not noticed him at all.
The reason that he had been so desperate to return to this classroom was a large ornate mirror placed here that he had found while wandering around in the invisibility cloak that he'd gotten on Christmas.
He had actually set out to search the Restricted Section of the library on Christmas night for any reference to Nicolas Flamel but had been thwarted by an alarm spell on the books. Looking to hide from a searching Filch and Snape, he had ended up here.
In the mirror, he had seen people. More particularly his family, including his parents. At first, he had jumped up in shock but then had been mesmerised by the sight in front of him.
He had returned yesterday night with a reluctant Ron, who had not seen Harry's family in the mirror. He had not even seen his own family.
Instead, Ron had seen himself as Quidditch Captain and Head boy. They had nearly fought for the right to stand in front of the mirror, only for Filch to come prowling nearby. They had left immediately.
And here Harry was today, ignoring Ron's advice about not visiting the mirror again. But Harry couldn't help it. He wanted nothing to do but to stay here with his family all night long. And he'd been caught.
"I didn't see you, sir" he replied timidly. Professor Dumbledore smiled gently, and Harry felt a little relief.
"Strange how near-sighted being invisible makes you," he paused before continuing. "You, like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised"
Harry looked at the seemingly indecipherable inscription carved on top of the mirror and nodded. Erised stra ehru oy tube cafru oyt on wohsi.
"Have you realised by now what it does?"
"It-It shows me my family -"
"And it shows Mr Weasley himself as Quidditch Captain and Head Boy."
"There are many ways to become invisible," Professor Dumbledore said gently. "Now, can you figure out what it shows us all?"
Harry shook his head, his attention half diverted towards the image of his family.
"Let's see. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised as any other mirror." Dumbledore paused. "He would be able to look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Now?"
This seemed to have sufficiently drawn Harry's attention. He pondered for a moment.
"It shows us what we want…whatever we may want…"
"Hmm. Yes. And No," Dumbledore said, slowly pacing around Harry to come and stand in front of the mirror.
"It shows us the deepest, desperate desire of our heart," he said quietly, "You, who yearns to know your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who feels inadequate and overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, with all the recognition he desires."
Turning towards Harry, Dumbledore spoke in a voice steeped in wisdom,
"The Mirror of Erised will give us neither knowledge nor truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen. Some have been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or possible, forgetting to live the life that they do have."
Harry was shocked by all of this. The very idea of him wasting away in front of the mirror chilled him. He slowly stood up.
"Harry, this Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow. I ask you not to go looking for it. If you ever do run across it, you will be prepared to face it."
Harry nodded. Dumbledore gave him a smile had said,
"I think it is time you put on that admirable cloak of yours and get off to bed"
Harry was about to leave when he stopped.
"Sir, can I ask you something?"
"You just did" Dumbledore smiled. "You may ask me another question."
"What do you see sir, when you look into the mirror?"
"Me? I see myself holding a pair of thick woollen socks," he replied rather quickly.
"One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People insist on giving me books."