Full Summary: Hawthorn Potter was an impractical witch with an impractical soul, forever making the impossible possible, and the possible impossibly dreary. Not very human, and not fully fairy, she fell between spaces, where lost hope returned and death never really stuck, and, quite literally, where men can live on the other side of a mirror. Jonathan Strange/Fem!Harry/Thistledown.


Prologue

Rules of Engagement.


Hermione Granger


I

There was, if one was to be Hawthorn Potter's friend, a certain set of rules to follow Hermione had found. A deviation from those rules, a complete break or one tiny slip, and a person could find themselves five toes less, or -in the case of Goyle that one time-, seven toes more. They were misleadingly straightforward rules, to the point, simple and plain, and wholly calamitous if ever crossed.

Firstly, one should not lie to Hawthorn. She simply did not understand the concept of lying, no matter how hard, or for how long, Hermione tried to explain what a lie was, why a person would lie, and how, sometimes, one could tell a lie from truth, it all flew above her head.

Hawthorn herself could not lie -Hermione once tried to get her to say the ink was pink, but all Hawthorn could do, until she was red in the face, was say that it was not, it was quite clearly black, and did Hermione need an eye test?-, and, perhaps, that was why men like Dumbledore had found her so easy to influence, or men like Snape made Hawthorn so baffled, and why betrayal came so swift and challenging for her. Often times -every time-, Hawthorn could not see it coming.

Of course, this did not mean Hawthorn could not be a tricky bastard on the best of days, of which Hermione said that with all the love she had for the odd girl with corkscrew copper hair and upside-down eyebrows. Lie, she could not, but deceive? Oh, Hawthorn could hoodwink the best of them. Semantics were an artform, of which Hawthorn was a master with a sharp, silver tongue.

Sometimes she spoke so fast, and for so long, with so many confusing words -not once uttering a lie-, that she confounded people into agreeing before they ever truly knew what they had just consented to -that week in June during third year where, for a giggle, Hawthorn started acquiring souls jumped to mind, and Angelina was still trying to figure out how to bargain hers back-. She found loopholes in wording like a jeweller found flaws in diamonds -she didn't throw a hex at the Slytherins back, professor, as she was undoubtedly told not to do again, it was very obviously aimed at his front-, and it was best, when dealing with Hawthorn, to be as plain as possible, or pay the consequences.

One should always, without exception, keep their word when given to Hawthorn. To Hermione's dear friend, a promise was a promise, an oath an oath, and breaking a pact was one step above kicking a puppy or skinning a seal cub. Hawthorn kept her word in all things once given -though trying to get her to promise anything at all proved headache inducing all on its own-, she would die to see a promise filled -had died to keep a vow kept-, and she, perhaps sometimes naively, expected the same from those around her.

One should think very seriously about lending or borrowing from Hawthorn, from money to a pot of sugar to a coat, everything had a price, a place, and a predicament. Occasionally, it was well worth taking the risk to break this rule -Ginny once burrowed Hawthorn some parchment in astronomy, and found, the next day, a priceless piece of art, worth millions mind you, at the bottom of her Gryffindor bunk bed, and till this day no one knew where or how Hawthorn had found the lost Da Vinci painting-, but not always -expecting the same pay out, Finnigan burrowed a quill to Hawthorn, and only got a broken ball point pen for his efforts-, and it was this 'not always' one should keep in mind -Fred still had not been able to grow out his eyebrows three years after asking Hawthorn for a spare snitch-.

One should not, with no concession, accept food from Hawthorn's hand. Be it apple, pear or the most delectable looking chocolate pudding. Unmistakably, it would be the best apple you had ever eaten, or the most mouth-watering piece of pudding, but after… After, you would not wish to eat or drink anything else.

You'd starve.

Crabbe was left in the hospital wing of Hogwarts for three months after eating the cauldron cake Hawthorn gave him in second year, withering away before Pomphrey managed to convince him to sip at some broth, and whatever bewitchment that had befallen the rotund boy was broken. Hermione did not think Hawthorn had done it on purpose but… Well, it was better to be safe than sorry, was it not?

One should not, for peace of mind and perhaps all your sanity, give Hawthorn your full name. Even Hermione had not done this. Hawthorn knew her name was Hermione J. Granger, but she did not know her middle name, Jean -and yet even now, seven years later, Hawthorn kept trying to guess it as if it was all but a game. Jamie? Janet? Julia? Come on, Hermione, am I close?-, and when Hawthorn learned Voldemort's true name in second year…

It was only a matter of time until she had him under heel.

To Hawthorn, and whatever peculiar genetics that made the tips of her ears pointy, names held power. Not the kind of power that saw her ordering people to walk off bridges, or burn themselves alive, or dance until they dropped dead. Nothing about Hawthorn was so straightforward or uncomplicated. Yet, it let her see you -see all of you-. See all the gravest blackest fears you had, all the dreams you had forgotten you had ever dreamed, all those nightmares too, see all errant thoughts, and whispered voices, and weak moments and, really, that was all Hawthorn ever needed to get a hook in.

Undeniably, she was hardly ever malicious about it -Voldemort and Draco Malfoy not withstanding-, as she knew Ron's full name, and the most she did with that knowledge was tease him something fierce about a dream he had when he was six -about a giant rabbit with his mother's face-. Yet, it was still an uncomfortable notion, that by name, one name, someone could know you so far down into the very depths of your bones, see all your frail and tender spots, the ambition and drive, and everything that made you you, and would forever know about you from that day forward because she would always have your name, and-

Whatever magic made Hawthorn, it was old magic, strong magic, and it was best not to poke at it.

One should not, ever, bring cold iron around Hawthorn. Steel and worked iron were fine, Hawthorn grandparents' home was one such house of many fenced by iron, but that was iron that was shaped and formed and smithed, and whatever energy it held in natural form, power over Hawthorn, was lost.

Cold iron -raw iron-, not so much.

It burned her.

A nugget of iron above the door stopped her from entering. A vein of the stuff across a rocky valley trapped her from going further. A deposit of it deep underground made the soil scorch her feet -Hawthorn was often running around barefoot no matter how many times Hermione told her to put some bloody shoes on-, and keeping a chunk of it in a pocket warded her off.

Until, naturally, she figured out how to trick that nugget right out of your hands of course, and then the game was on.

However, these rules were not concrete. Hawthorn, if anything, was unpredictable. She was like a tide, abating and gushing, and some days she found things hilarious upon which, on any other day, she might find repulsive. That was what made being Hawthorn's friend so much fun, unsure where a day might take you, or what came next.

Hermione knew laying it out like this, like a care sheet for a troublesome-semi-rabid dog you were trying to adopt from a kennel, made Hawthorn sound so much worse than what she was. The truth was Hawthorn was the most loving, most bright, most caring person Hermione had ever met. She would give a man her last meal, or the shirt off her back, or, if she thought it would help any, her own teeth to chew with.

She stood up to Luna's bullies when do one else dared to. She taught Neville to dance, and what a dancer he proved to be. She talked to Finnigan about his mother, and she let Chow cry on her shoulder, and she did little things too, like making sure Hermione slept enough, and Ron read enough, and Fred and George had the money to begin their joke shop when no bank would invest -no one mentioned that it could have very well been stolen money Hawthorn gave them, never quite sure where or how she got many things-.

Hawthorn, merely put, felt more deeply than anyone Hermione had ever met before. She laughed the loudest, she smiled the widest, and she grieved the longest.

Her insatiable hunger for mischief, perhaps mischief that saw itself going too far sometimes, seemed to any and all that knew Hawthorn -properly, and not simply from those slanderous pieces in the Daily Prophet-, inconsequential -even if Hermione really wished she would stop putting toads in her slippers at night-.

Yet, here Hermione was, telling these rules, if only you could understand why what came next, well, came next. You see, through all these guidelines, all these recommendations, there was one rule, just one, when dealing with Hawthorn that should never, not once, not ever, be crossed. No matter the time of day you broke it, no matter the mood Hawthorn was in, no matter the reason you had, you did not break it.

Never say thank you.

Hermione did not know what it was about the words, just eight little letters, that pissed Hawthorn off so much, but… By Merlin, she became vicious. They enraged her, infuriated her, made her visibly simmer and strain with wrath and fury and something that sparked like lightening in the aire. More so than anything else, more so than the iron she could sense -and often hissed at like an angry alley cat-, more so than not knowing someone's full name -gold? I'll give you gold 'Mione, if you just tell me what the J stands for. Come on, what's the worst that could happen?-, more so than broken vows or deals unstruck or lies uttered.

Say thank you to Hawthorn, and you were likely to lose your head.

Your families too.

You had not seen anger, true unbridled rage, until you had seen Hawthorn when someone said thank you.

Nevertheless, for something so dire, it was contrarily easy to avoid, for nearly all the seven years Hermione had known Hawthorn, there had only been one mishap of thank you -for which no one ever spoke about, and no one mentioned poor Pansy Parkinson again-.

Instead of saying the cursed two words, it was easy to change to I appreciate the gesture, Thorn, or that was a kind thing to do, or, Hermione's personal favourite, one that could never ensue any unforeseen debts like an open check Hawthorn could write anything she damn well pleased in, you have my gratitude.

It seemed, then, that the thank you rule would never be broken again. Nothing to worry about, and-

And then came the night, barely six months after the war, when Hawthorn heard a strange knocking coming from her bedroom mirror.

And the mirror in her bathroom.

And the mirror in her hall.

And the mirrors in the streets, and the mirrors in shops, and the mirrors all about everywhere she tread.

A curious noise indeed, to be heard coming from the other side of a mirror, but no stranger than hearing snakes speak, or trolls yelp, or paintings sing.

Up Until Hawthorn swore she heard it bloody sneeze one day, and on instinct, said bless you, as a proper English lass was prone to do, and what should she hear from the other side but a voice, charming, slick, say thank you.

It all happened in a rush. Hawthorn became livid, she lept, the mirror shattered, and-

And Hawthorn was gone. Lost. Somewhere far away and not entirely far away at all.

That was the last time Hermione saw her friend for many years, though search high and low she did, and, after they met again, over scones and a good ol' cup of tea, she compiled this book to make sense of the impossible girl who vanished through a mirror, and came back some sort of Queen.

So how did it begin?

Well, Hermione thought, it began in a bedroom in a house called Grimmauld Place, where shadows lingered, and spiders spun their webs, and kreacher was spelled with a K.

The night was deep upon the lonely house, moon full and fat and bright, and there, oddly, a girl was awoken by the sound of tap, tap, tapping coming from her mirror…


Next Chapter: Hawthorn Potter awakes to the sound of tapping coming from her mirror, and things go dramatically down hill from there…


A.N: I have quite the awful cold currently, and, to stop myself from thinking on my poor, red nose, took to watching the BBC Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell adaption, fell quite in love with it all, and came up with this… Whatever this is lol. This is only a little prologue, a little different in tone/format from what the rest of the fic will be, but I quite liked it and so, here it is!

This fic will be Thistledown/Fem!Harry/Jonathan Strange, so for those who don't like either of those characters, or all of them, beware. For those who have not read or seen Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, fear not, most of this fic will be told from Hawthorn's P.O.V, and that universe will be fleshed out full, and explained well, I hope, in the upcoming chapters.

I hope you all liked this short snippet, and are looking forward to more, and if you could be a dear and take pity on this poor red-nosed fanfic author, don't forget to drop a little review, and I hope to see you all soon! Until then, stay beautiful ~AlwaysEatTheRude21