Disclaimer: All characters are owned by J.K. Rowling and used without permission or intent to make a profit.
Laughing, the four entered the small, dusty room and closed the door behind them. As Harry slipped the map into his pocket, Ron smiled at Hermione and repeated his impression of Snape's expression of utmost horror when he had been called upon to testify that Wormtail, not Sirius, had been a Death Eater, which elicited another laugh from them all.
Harry looked up at Ron, suddenly sober. "You do all realise that this is the last quiet moment any of us are likely to have for a long time?" he asked, absently fiddling with the golden Galleon he wore on a chain around his neck, displayed on the outside of his robes. The secrecy that had been enforced at the founding of the DA was no longer needed, because the names of those who possessed the coins were on the lips of all of Wizarding Britain, and there was no longer a ban on unauthorised clubs at Hogwarts. Many members of the DA now wore the coins as hard-earned medallions, trinkets they could display to their descendents.
Ron sighed deeply and looked into the eyes of his best friend, one for whom he would go through the fiery gates of hell and back. The events of recent weeks had been a testament to that loyalty. "Yeah, mate, we do. Unfortunately, it's not bloody likely that the newspapers are going to stop hounding us for interviews any time in the near future."
"We could always give Rita another exclusive," suggested Ginny, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "I know she'd love that: The Hogwarts Six tell all."
"Ginny," said Hermione wearily, "I thought that we had all decided not to say a word about that. Anyway, we all know that they would skew the story."
Ginny snorted. "Hermione, you know that they won't stop pestering us until they have something to write in the annals of history. It might as well have some basis in fact, rather than be completely constructed from rumours and imagined events."
Ron's eyes lit up, dancing candle flames set below fiery eyebrows. "That's it! Hermione, why don't you write the definitive history of the dual risings of You-Know-Who? You know more about the second war than any stuffy old historian does, and you can talk to people involved in the first war who probably wouldn't even talk to someone they don't know and trust. You can crush some of the more idiotic rumours and set the record straight."
Hermione appeared dubious. "It would be an enormous amount of work, Ron. There's sure to be other historians who could write a more balanced account than I. I am caught right up in the middle of the events, and wouldn't it seem a bit pretentious for me to write the book, especially so soon after the end of the war?"
"Come on, Hermione, it'd be great! Anyway, I know you too well. If you start the book now, you'll still be fiddling around with bits of it in ten years. That's long enough after the war's end, isn't it?"
"There's a big difference between enjoying reading history books, Ron, and writing them. But yes, it does sound like a good idea. It could be really interesting…."
Justified, Ron looked unrepentant. "I knew it was a good idea!" Ginny slapped his arm sharply. "Ginny, please don't do that! You don't need to be my conscience these days: Hermione does it for me." Ron suddenly found himself at the receiving end of two fierce scowls.
Having long ago realised that arguing was one of their favourite forms of entertainment, Harry paid little attention to the discussions of Hermione and Ron. He instead spent the time giving the dusty room they stood in a more substantial look than the cursory glance the four had made when entering. The dust was extremely thick, as if the house-elves and Filch habitually avoided cleaning the room. The air was a little musty, probably because the room had not been disturbed for so long. It was lit by a small window, which cast a sort of half-light through the room that did not quite reach the corners. The shadows of the four adolescents blended into the general murkiness.
Various pieces of battered, mismatched classroom furniture were scattered around the room, some blackened with age and explosions. Harry imagined that those pieces of furniture had seen many years of accidentally backfired spells and the many pranks of bored and mischievous students. He ran a hand through the thick layer of dust, revealing the scratches and gouges carved by generations of students.
Various other items were draped with sheets and covers, possibly to prevent those perhaps still decent pieces from being unredeemably gritted with dust. The room seemed somehow familiar, and not just because it was remarkably similar to dozens of other disused classrooms and deserted storerooms scattered around the school.
Absently tracing along the design of a rose that some artistic student had carved on the desk in years past, Harry realised why the room seemed familiar. It was more than a useful escape from those who pursued them; it was a piece of their history.
"Ron," said Harry slowly, crossing the room to one of the corners. "We've been in this room before. Look directly behind you."
As Ron turned, Harry grabbed the dust cover shrouding the particularly tall object in the corner and pulled it off.
Ron gasped. "It's the Mirror of Erised!"
Hermione and Ginny, who had heard stories from the other two about it, turned hastily to look.
Harry ran his fingers over the elaborate design carved into the frame. "I wonder why Dumbledore put it back in here?"
"He probably thought that you wouldn't expect it to be put back here, and the room is almost impossible to identify. That's why we chose it on the map, remember?" said Ginny practically. "I expect no one has been in here since I started at Hogwarts, at least, and that the dust was allowed to get this thick so that most people would have second thoughts about entering the room. Quite a sensible situation, really."
"I always wondered if what the two of you saw in the mirror during First Year would have changed to something else by now. Do you think it's safe to look into it? Should you look? Dumbledore did scold Harry last time!" Hermione fiddled nervously with a handful of her hair as the four stood out of the range of the mirror, quite aware of its ability to capture the attention of any viewer.
"I always wondered what I would see," said Ginny, her eyes flicking towards Harry and a fond smile appearing on her face, "and Dumbledore didn't really scold Harry, if I heard the story correctly. He just warned Harry of the possible consequences of looking for too long at the mirror. Anyway, Hermione, don't you want to look?"
Hermione's head bent so that she was looking at the floor, but not before she inadvertently glanced at Ron. Even though her loose hair veiled much of her face, the reddening of her cheeks was still noticeable.
A slight grin now graced Ginny's face. "Ah. I thought you might still feel that way, even though I can't understand why you would think that. Oh well, I suppose Mum'll be pleased, when she finds out. After all, she did marry Dad…."
"Stop teasing Hermione like that, Ginny, and I'll thank you to keep Mum out of this!" Ron said tartly. "If you don't be polite, I'll have to find that poem you wrote when you were ten and show it to Harry. You really should have known better than to drop it on the staircase at home."
Ginny turned to smile sweetly at her brother. "Oh, I've been looking for that. I told Harry about it while I was showing him how bad I was at poetry when I was younger. I wondered where it had got to."
Harry was about to say something, but Ginny managed to step on his foot while maintaining her Umbridge-sweet smile. Hermione was recovering somewhat from her embarrassment at this stage, as Ginny's attention was no longer directed at her. She followed the fast-paced exchanges between the siblings, though her cheeks were still pinker than usual.
"What were you doing telling Harry about your poetry, Ginny?" Ron looked suspiciously between the two.
"Well, what were you doing with Hermione in the corner of the common room? I didn't know that either of you needed that much practice at making Concealment Shields or at snogging."
Hermione's face instantly flushed bright crimson again, and this time Ron's joined her. Whilst Hermione stuttered unintelligibly, Ron managed to coordinate his vocal cords and thoughts, and replied, "I asked you first! Anyway, it's none of your business what Hermione and I were doing as preparation for our NEWTs."
To break up the bickering, and before Ginny mentioned why they had been discussing poetry, Harry hurriedly spoke up. "I think what I'll see in the mirror may have changed a bit by now. At the very least, I'll probably see more people! I'd like take the opportunity to check, anyhow."
A gentle smile drifted across Ginny's face. "Of course you can have a look, Harry. It's only fitting, as you found the mirror both times."
Harry stepped in front of the mirror and was caught up in its thrall. He stared for a few moments, and then spoke urgently. "Ginny, Ron, Hermione? You need to see this. Come and look."
"Harry," said Hermione practically, "you already know that we can't see what you see in the mirror. It didn't work when you and Ron tried in first year."
"Hermione, I think you all are going to see exactly what I'm seeing. Exactly. So why shouldn't we be able to see it together?"
The other three walked up to stand beside Harry. His arm crept up to encircle Ginny's waist and Ron and Hermione's hands were firmly glued together. Looking into the silvery surface of the mirror, they gasped at what they saw.
From the other side of the mirror, the four, who also stood there, appeared to be similarly startled at the sight of their counterparts. Harry's arm was wrapped securely around Ginny, and Hermione's hand was still clasped within Ron's grip. Both Ginnys tilted their heads to lay them on the shoulder of the Harry standing beside them. Ron's fingertips met those of his double on the cold surface of the mirror, as he reached out, as if to check the accuracy of his likeness.
"It's us, together and happy, exactly as we are," breathed Hermione. "Our deepest desire is this? Peaceful time together, just being ourselves?"
~@~ ~@~ ~@~
The four young adults -- for they were no longer children -- stood amidst the dust of the abandoned classroom and stared, fascinated, at their reflections in the mirror. They understood, now, just why Professor Dumbledore had brought them to see this: though they could not hear their doubles, their body language suggested a very realistic conversation for the four. The little family took one last, long look, and then turned away: for what are dreams, even accurate ones, when there is life ahead of you?
As they turned away, Ron looked over at Hermione. "Hermione, I've been thinking, why don't you write the definitive history of the dual risings of You-Know-Who?"
Author's Notes: Thanks must go to my test subjects, Loui and Cathy, for all of their support as I subjected them to early drafts and ideas, to my pre-beta, Blue Spoon, for all her help with the story and my characterisations, and to my official beta, OHGinnyfan, for her help and comma murdering. This story would not be here today without all your assistance and support.