Ariana, hidden underneath the family Cloak, stalked the corridors as she tried to bring her chaotic thoughts to order. Even though to most students (her brother included) it was an ungodly hour of the night, she had found that as the year progressed she needed less and less time to sleep. It didn’t help that it was once again Halloween, both her birthday and the day her adoptive parents had been killed. She was always more restless on that day, which no one else save her friends (she shrugged off the instinctive urge to call them her pack) realized just how much that day pained her. Even then, though, she had always been able to sleep after a good cry… until this year, anyway.
May the powers that be have no mercy on Voldie’s soul, she thought bitterly, for it’s his fault that I can’t identify myself as a human anymore.
Ever since the graveyard incident (to which she could now remember snippets of her battling the Death Eaters with her bare hands- and didn’t that just make her want to vomit slightly every time she remembered the feel of blood dripping from her strangely clawed fingers- instead of simply the haze of red and the feelings of intense grief and rage that she had initially remembered), she had noticed that many things had changed about herself.
Her hearing had improved to the point where she could people whispering about her and Harry from the other side of the crowded Hall at dinner, her strength had increased quite noticeably (Fluffy was so happy when she actually gave him a run for his money at tug-of-war), and she suspected that her night vision was possibly on par with Mrs. Norris’. Not to mention that the strange second power source within her had grown noticeably stronger, to the point where she suspected it was at least half of the size of her magic.
But what was that power? What made it so different from anything else she had ever known?
Just what was she?
She was lucky that it was so late, for otherwise she would’ve had to been more careful about the frustrated growling that emitted from her throat. After all, it wouldn’t do for a fellow student to hear her growling and possibly mistake it for a runaway pet of Hagrid’s.
Suddenly, she caught a faint scent emitted from ahead. Freezing, she quickly ignored her unpleasant thoughts at how natural it felt as she scented the air. Her eyes widened as she recognized the strange musky scent of the Defense teacher.
Ever since she had first laid eyes on him, Ariana felt a strange draw towards Professor Shippo Higurashi. It wasn’t the same as the draw she had felt when she had met Luna for the first time, and it definitely wasn’t an attraction towards him like it was for so many of the female population at Hogwarts (including Umbridge- the sight of the toad flirting with the green eyed professor made her wish that she knew how to Obliviate herself safely).
Nonetheless, she did feel a strange connection towards the ruby haired man. If the elder Potter sibling could compare it to anything, it was probably similar to what she was starting to feel from Tonks- not directly connected to her, but connected to someone she held dear to her heart.
The only problem was that the only people who had even known the guy before he was hired as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was Padfoot and Moony, and they had only met him last year when Sirius had hid in Japan. Even then, it was obvious that Moony was starting to become romantically attached to Tonks (not that he’d admit it… yet) and Sirius was stuck in Grimmauld Place while Professor Higurashi was free to take a strange interest in Ariana herself- not a romantic interest, but definitely an interest nonetheless. Considering her past DADA teachers, she was definitely very wary of his behavior.
Cursing as she began to feel that strange aura that he emitted grow closer, she quickly dashed away as silently as she could. Ducking through various passages, Ariana allowed her mind to not focus on her destination in favor of watching her surroundings. After all, it would suck if she was caught by that dang cat of Filch’s.
Eventually she found herself in an empty corridor that was by now very familiar to her. Turning her back on Barnabas the Barmy and his trolls, she studied the blank wall where the Room of Requirement hid itself. As she studied it, she felt an odd urge strike her.
Walking back and forth in front of it, she focused on what she couldn’t say aloud, what even Harry couldn’t understand. Her inner conflict about her humanity, the confusion about the strange presence that forced her to study Occlumency under Professor Snape in order to make sure she didn’t accidentally maim anyone (or worse), the old wondering about who her birth family was, her grief over the death of her first love, and just about everything else in her heart. She pleaded silently for help, for guidance… for understanding.
When she finally opened her eyes and glanced over, she was pleasantly surprised to see a plain looking door there. Gathering up her Gryffindor courage, she opened the door and walked in.
As she heard the door close behind her, she stared bewilderedly at the lone object that had appeared in the room. Ariana had thought that it had been destroyed during the confrontation against Quirrelmort (as the Weasley Twins coined him after hearing the story), and yet here it was, fully intact.
Seemingly oblivious to her confusion, the Mirror of Erised still stood there even after the fifth-year had pinched herself to see if she was dreaming. Finally accepting the fact that apparently it had survived the destruction of the Philosopher’s Stone, Ariana walked up to the mirror. Before she glanced into the mirror itself, she once more looked towards the top.
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.
Four years older and wiser than her twelve-year old self, Ariana was now finally able to decipher the mysterious phrase- I show not your face but your heart’s desire. It helped that she knew what the mirror did… it was with this thought that she finally glanced into the mirror itself.
Once again, her altered reflection (with the silver hair, golden eyes, strange cheek markings, and pointed ears rather than the silvery blond hair, hazel eyes, and normal ears that she was used to) nodded back at her, while her Mama and Dada’s reflections smiled happily at her from their spots behind reflection Harry, who stood once again next to her on the right. And once again, the strange silver-haired, pointy-eared, golden-eyed family who looked so very much like her reflection were there, eyes filled with affection (and dare she say, love) upon seeing her while they once again stood behind her reflected self.
Ariana was surprised, however, to see several new additions. A white haired male with actual dog ears who gave her a fanged smirk from his position on the other side of the oldest silver-haired male (with whom he shared a slight resemblance to, although not as much as the younger and sterner silver-haired male), a beautiful black-haired blue-eyed Asian lady who alternated between smiling gently at her and rolling her eyes fondly at the dog-eared man (whom she stood next to), a red-haired green eyed male who bore an eerie resemblance to Professor Higurashi with five fox tails behind him grinning knowingly at her from his position on the other side of the new woman, and finally a black-haired amber-eyed male who now stood next to her reflected self’s left side, one arm draped around her shoulders quite possessively, yet also quite gently. It was obvious to her that he considered her reflected self to be quite precious to him.
Studying him for a bit, Ariana was able to note that he was quite attractive, even more so than Cedric had been. Eventually, however, she was able to tear her eyes away from him to once more study her altered reflection.
As she once again noted the strange cheek markings, she remembered everyone’s description of her feral self after she and Harry had returned to the Maze from that awful graveyard. The two delicately jagged violet stripes on each cheek somewhat matched what they had described. With a jolt, she realized that thanks to all of the changes to her features after the past several years she looked like her altered reflection more than she did back in her first year.
Did that mean that her reflection was what she would eventually look like? Perhaps even what she should look like?
Suddenly, her reflection smiled at her and gestured towards the bottom of the mirror. Looking down, Ariana noticed that there was some grime covering the bottom part of the frame. Frowning, she knelt down to take a closer look, and noticed something odd- some of the markings that were under the grime looked oddly familiar…
Pointing her wand, she muttered the cleaning charm that she had learned from observing Mrs. Weasley. After several passes, it soon became clear that the markings were, in fact, words… words similar to those that graced the top of the mirror.
Tit narg ott seby modl lah si erup eb erised tah tdlu ohs.
Confused, she studied the strange words for a full minute before she realized that they would probably be deciphered in the same way as the words above. Using that logic, she quickly glanced around while broadcasting the need for something to write with. Soon, she found what she was looking for- a charcoal pencil.
Quickly, she wrote out the individual letters in backward order on the stone floor just in front of the mirror. After several moments, she was able to figure out where the spaces should be. Once finished, she read the result.
Should that desire be pure I shall do my best to grant it.
Staring in shock at the revealed sentence, Ariana’s mind was cast back to the day after Harry had woken up from their first true confrontation with Voldemort in first year, and of the short conversation they had before the Headmaster had shown up during his usual time to check on the Potter siblings.
“So tell me, brother, how did you get the stone out of the Mirror?”
“I dunno… all I remember is looking into the Mirror while hoping that I’d be able to find the Stone before Quirrell did, and then all of a sudden my reflection smiled at me as he pulled the Stone out of his pocket. When he went to put it back, however, I felt it in my pocket.”
Did that mean, then, that it wasn’t a complicated spell of Dumbledore’s like they had thought after the man had mentioned that it was one of his more brilliant ideas, but rather it was the Mirror itself that had given Harry the Stone thanks to his pure desire? Had Dumbledore known about this, hence why he mentioned that it was a brilliant idea?
So lost in her contemplation, she never noticed the Mirror slowly emptying itself of various occupants. It was only when she finally noticed a movement on the upper edge of her vision that she finally glanced up… only to see her reflection walk to the edges of the Mirror and disappear.
The only remaining occupant was the eldest silver-haired man, who seemed to be focused on her... almost too focused on her.
Slowly, she stood up from where she had kneeled. As she did so, she watched the man, who now seemed to be studying her, as if truly noticing her for the first time.
Suddenly, he took a step forward. Almost unconsciously, Ariana took a step backward. For the next several steps, they repeated their movements.
Then, the man took a step out of the Mirror’s frame.
At this, Ariana literally jumped backwards while whimpering with surprise and fear. Reflections were NOT supposed to be able to leave a mirror!
As he finished stepping out of the mirror, however, the silver-haired male seemed pained at the sound of her whimper. It was for this reason alone that instead of running for the door like she wanted to, Ariana stood her ground as the male (who was now for some odd reason transparent) took a few more steps toward her. She whined with confusion as he finally stopped- just what was going on?!?
Gasping at the sound of a deep baritone voice inside her head despite her rudimentary Occlumency shields, Ariana stared at the only being it could’ve come from with increasing confusion. Why did that voice sound so familiar?
Looking even sadder, the male stared into her eyes as he asked without moving his lips, “Don’t you recognize my voice, little one?”
Upon hearing the sheer pain in his voice, with a sudden jolt Ariana realized that she did, in fact recognize his voice. After all, she had only heard that particular timbre of pain from one other source- her earliest memories and nightmares, the ones that were filled with the sounds of obvious battle and of an ominous chanting as she fought helplessly against the pain that was infiltrating every part of her, and of her falling into a deep blackness as this man’s and a woman’s voice screamed out with pain-filled voices from the little square of light that grew smaller by the minute.
“I know your voice…” Ariana finally whispered, “but why?” Louder, she asked, “Just who are you?”
While his face had lightened a bit when she mentioned that she knew his voice, the male once again seemed sad as he replied, “I am one who should’ve been there as you grew up, who should’ve been there to give you the love and affection you deserve instead of the treatment you received from those despicable relatives of your adopted brother, or from that horrible History teacher of yours.” Shaking his head, he continued, “Never have I understood our kind’s disdain for humanity until the first time that horrible excuse of a man dared strike at you with unwarranted anger.” As he finished his sentence, his voice descended into a familiar growl… she growled like that whenever she was angry!
She also noticed that he had said ‘our kind’ instead of ‘my kind’… did that mean, then, that he was whatever she was becoming?
As if he had read her mind, he nodded once, as if in confirmation. “I know that you must have many questions, dear pup, but know that I cannot answer all of them.”
“Why?” she inquired, her head cocking slightly to the left.
“Because of two reasons. The first is that my time here is unfortunately not as long as I’d like. Secondly, if you were to find out certain things before you are meant to know them, then the gods’ work on you will be undone and you will succumb to the curse that they had saved you from,” he answered. Smirking slightly, he added, “And no, you can’t ask me about what that curse was, the gods, or their various plans. Those explanations are some of those that will be answered in time. Just know that what you have been experiencing is, in fact, normal for someone of your situation.”
“Drat,” she muttered as she finally began to relax a bit. It was odd, but there was a deep part of her that trusted this male, after the shock of his sudden ability to interact with the world outside of the Mirror had tapered off. Thinking about what to ask him, she quickly settled on a question, one that needed to be asked.
“You said ‘our kind’ earlier,” she began slowly. “Does that mean that unlike me you know what I- er, what we are?”
“Of course I do, little pup,” came the ready answer, “And while I can’t say yet what we are, I can tell you that you have heard the term for our kind already.”
“Within the past several months, in fact. However, that’s all I can say on the matter.”
“Oh.” Irresistibly, Ariana’s mind went over various instances where intelligent magical beings had come into conversation. Suddenly, she recalled the first ever class with Professor Higurashi.
“Professor?” Hermione called out, her hand raised in the air.
“Yes, Miss Granger?”
“Is there a reason why you haven’t referred to this class by its full name? Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have mentioned it, but our other professors have mentioned the full title at least once by now,” Hermione inquired.
While most of the students were confused by the direction Hermione was going, Ron, Neville, and the Potter siblings realized what she was doing. Depending on his reaction to her, a notable muggle-born witch, they might be able to tell if Professor Higurashi was going to have negative intentions towards them like three out of the four previous professors. While initially they had planned on Ariana performing the initial testing of the waters, Hermione had apparently decided that the odd focus the professor already had on the elder Potter sibling (rather than the younger, as was the case for all of his predecessors save Lupin) meant that someone else had to do it instead.
Raising a brow, the professor nevertheless answered, “Because I’m not going to be strictly teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. I’m going to be teaching Defense against many things.” After several questioning noises were made, he elaborated, “Just because those who use the Dark Arts are going to be one of the bigger threats you’ll have to deal with- and no, I’m not going to get into the debate on whether Lord Voldemort is back or not, for I know that most of you won’t change your minds on that front, so don’t even ask- it doesn’t mean that they’re the only threat out there. After all, there’s muggle muggers, various creatures ranging from pixies to werewolves to vampires that could unexpectedly rampage, even rogue youkai, and I want you to learn how to defend yourself against all of these things and more as much as you can.”
After raising his hand and being acknowledged by the professor, Ron asked, “What are those youkey things you mentioned?”
“They’re called youkai, Mr. Weasley, and they’re a type of being originally native to my homeland that get VERY offended when you call them creatures,” came the ready response, along with a quick flicker of his eyes towards Ariana that most of the class seemed to not catch. “While sadly they’re classed as such in many parts of the world, including Britain, thankfully Japan has recognized them as beings equivalent, if not superior to, human witches and wizards. And don’t scoff, Mr. Malfoy, for I can guarantee that if you were to ever have the chance to meet a higher ranked youkai- especially one of the members of the House of the Western Moon, in particular the Inuyoukai that belong to that House- you will soon find yourself outclassed in many ways.”
Remembering that discussion, she decided to look up every creature that the professor had mentioned to see if she matched any of them (save werewolf). Which reminded her… “Are you aware of Professor Higurashi?” she asked the male.
“I am,” he replied, with a small smile. “And yes, little one, he IS to be trusted. After all, he will never intentionally hurt you in any way, and in fact will more than likely go out his way to protect you, and your personal pack by extension.”
Blinking in surprise, Ariana blurted out, “Really?”
As his smile grew slightly bigger, the male good-naturedly retorted, “Really, pup. However, I will leave the explanations of why he would do so to him.”
At this point, Ariana Potter began to suspect that the male from the mirror was being vague on purpose. However, he was doing something no one else had been able to do yet- reassure her of the things she couldn’t exactly put into words. After all, already he had answered several questions that she couldn’t exactly ask, as if he was able to read her mind or something.
Although… now that she thought about it could be the Room of Requirement doing that for him… the chuckle that she was now hearing from him definitely hinted towards this theory.
There was still, however, one more thing that truly bothered her…
“That odd presence that has been in my mind ever since the end of last school year…” she began, then paused for a moment as she was unsure of how to continue her question.
However, that didn’t deter the male from asking, “Your inner beast? What about her?”
“My inner beast? What do you mean?” she demanded.
Blinking in shock, suddenly the male cocked his head, as if he was listening to something she couldn’t hear (which only affirmed the theory that the Room was helping him). Finally focusing back on her, he commented, “You haven’t found her yet, have you?”
Confused, she answered slowly, “Considering I don’t know who ‘her’ is, I’m going to say no.”
“Hmm… while unexpected, it is certainly not a problem,” the man mused. “The ‘presence’, as you put it, is your inner beast, who had been sleeping until now. As of now she is of no threat to you, however there will come a day when the two of you must clash- it is unavoidable with all of our kind. However, if you can manage to find her and learn to communicate with her, it will make the confrontation much easier on your end. That, unfortunately, is the only advice I can give you.”
“Oh… well, how do I find her, then? Because it’s disturbing that I have to struggle to make sure that I don’t maim someone on accident.”
“Sad to say, but it’s different for everyone, pup. However, that mind training you’ve been learning is most likely one of the best ways to find her,” came the contemplative answer.
Suddenly the male stiffened as he seemed to once more listen to someone Ariana couldn’t see. Focusing back on her with sad eyes, he stated, “It looks like my time here is coming to an end, dear one. Before I go, however, there are two things I’d like to do.”
Cocking her head once more, she had to ask, “What’re they?”
As he suddenly began to close the distance between them, the male responded, “First, there’s this.” When he was within reach, suddenly his arms shot out. Ignoring Ariana’s yelp of surprise, he soon embraced her.
Still stiff with surprise, she was stunned to realize at just how comforting it was to be held by him, despite the fact that she could only feel a very faint pressure against her skin. She was further surprised when she suddenly caught a whiff of a scent that teased the very edges of her memory. Almost desperate to study that scent more, she managed to embrace the male back as she hid her face in his chest. Finally, she was able to smell it properly- he smelled of playful romps, of gentle guidance, of power… but most of all, he smelled of pack, of family, of home.
After a few more moments, the male began to separate from Ariana as he continued, “Finally, I’d like for you to summon your Patronus for me.”
Blinking at the odd request, she nevertheless summoned her wand from its holster. Focusing on her memories of Cedric, Ariana pulled on both her magic and her strange power as she incanted, “Expecto Patronum!” As she did so, her colossal dog Patronus once more bounded out of the wand and promptly began to investigate the scents of the room. It really was the oddest Patronus, with it constantly showing signs that it had a mind of its own (unlike other Patroni) and the fact that once again it seemed bigger than the last time she had called it.
Suddenly, the giant dog froze. Almost as if it could not believe its nose, it slowly turned towards the other occupant of the room. Ariana watched with interest as the two slowly walked toward each other, as if they knew each other yet had been separated for the longest time. As one, the Patronus lowered its muzzle as the male raised a hand.
When they touched, a bright light erupted from the point of contact. It was so bright that Ariana had to turn away to prevent herself from being blinded. As the light finally began to fade, she turned back… only for her jaw to drop open at what she saw.
It seemed that the man and her Patronus somehow combined, and now her Patronus (in addition to becoming even more gigantic in size) had gained color!
What was originally just shades of milky white was now fur of a brilliant pale silver. The eyes had turned ruby with sapphire irises, and the jagged purple stripe that had been on each cheek of the male was now in the upper corners of the mouth. As Ariana continued to stare, said mouth open to reveal a long pink tongue, which in true doggy fashion lolled over to the side with amusement.
When she saw this, Ariana couldn’t help but smile herself. Seemingly pleased, the dog began to wag its tail.
“Come, sing with me,” he urged, before raising his head to sound out a beautiful howl.
For once, Ariana did not try to deny the odd instinct that arose within her as she raised her own head and howled as well. While it wasn’t as beautiful as his, she was still proud at how well her first howl sounded.
The two howls blended until one could hardly differentiate between the two. It was a bittersweet song, carrying notes of utter joy at finally reuniting, notes of thankfulness, and notes of acknowledgement of their bond as well as notes of sorrow and regret for their time together being so limited.
Eventually, the song ended. Lowering his head, the dog gently nuzzled the top of her head.
“I’ll always love you, my Uncommon Blessing,” he said. As he began to pull away, Ariana was saddened to see that he was beginning to fade away. With tears in her eyes, she listened to his final words that echoed through the room as the dog fully faded away.
“We shall meet once more, my pup.”
Glancing back towards the mirror, she saw that it was once again showing the images it had reflected when she had first glanced into it on this fateful night.
“Thank you,” she whispered as she and her reflection both laid their palms on their respective parts of the mirror.
On the west side of Hogwarts, inside of the fourth-year Ravenclaw girls’ dorms, Luna Lovegood opened the eyes she had closed when she had first heard the combined howl that had echoed through her soul’s memories. While she recognized one of the voices as Ariana, the other voice was one that she had only heard in her previous life, when she was the man who helped give a pair of Inuyoukai parents hope.
“And so the Inu no Taisho and his daughter finally sing together once more,” she whispered.