The year that passes comes in fades and flows. At Times, Hawthorn goes weeks, perhaps a whole month, without hearing or seeing shades within mirrors. These moments drag on, feeling like a lifetime bottled in a bubble, but she finds some form of normality in these flashes and flares of regularity that is almost addictive.
She began an apprenticeship at Saint Mungo's as a healer, a route no one had expected her to take, not when she had been offered fast-tracking from the Auror department of the Ministry of Magic. She visits the Weasley's every Sunday, her own little ginger-hand-me-down church of sorts, and Molly makes sure to always stock up on berries and fruits for her to nibble. She meets Ron and Hermione every Wednesday afternoon for tea at the Leaky Cauldron, and a catch up, Hermione's Charms Mastery and Ron's successful try-outs for the Chudley Canons drawing the friends as far from each other as they had ever been. She visits Teddy on the weekends, and Neville on Thursdays, and she meets Luna every morning for their journey to Saint Mungo's.
In those moments, delightful instances, Hawthorn feels entirely… Human.
And she swears she will never speak to a mirror again.
Of course, she does.
She couldn't help herself.
These humanly minutes of hers never last long, not as long as, perhaps, she wished they would, for a mirror would knock and tap, and she would answer, she always answered, and so, the cycle span.
Yet, this tapping-mirror-moments change too, with time. The tap becomes a knock, the knock a vague voice, a vague voice morphs into intelligible words with a curious English accent, and then she sees shadows, flickers of movement from the corner of her eye, and then a glimpse of a face, a strong face, handsome, curly-haired and bright-eyed and-
The first time she heard the voice, Hawthorn didn't think he was talking to her.
Wherever did I put that damned book?
She answered without thinking.
Check underneath your pillow. That's where I put the book I'm reading.
There was a yelp, a funny little noise Hawthorn chuckled at, a lingering silence, and then it came again.
You're the girl from my brandy cup, aren't you? I don't suppose I can have a name to go along with my lunacy?
His brandy cup? He was in her butterbeer! Lunacy? If anyone here was mad, quite clearly, it was herself! A name? No, he could not have her name. Names held power, Dumbledore had had her name, Tom Riddle too, and look how well that sorry affair ended. But…
Perhaps he could have a name, and in turn, she could have his.
Harriet. My name's Harriet Evans. And you?
Another bout of silence, a drifting thing of sighs and suggestions.
That wasn't his name, or at the very least, not all of it. Hawthorn could tell. There was no meaning behind it, no face she could see, just a void, empty, desolate, no dreams or wishes or ambition. Clever boy.
Well, Jack Oddly, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Now, can you tell me how you came to be in my mirrors?
Jack dares a scoff.
Your mirrors? Do you not mean how did you get into mine?
And so it goes. Jack Oddly, or the mirror-man who calls himself Jack Oddly but decidedly is not, believes her to be trapped in his mirrors, and she believes he is trapped in hers, and they spend many a night arguing over which is which, because, surely, one had to be right and one wrong, one world reality, and the other a reflection.
Sometimes, they don't argue about this at all. They simply talk, a temperate back and forth that becomes easy over the following year, until there is a time Hawthorn did not quite remember a say she did not have her friend on the other side of the glass. They don't delve into weighty subjects, Hawthorn is partly afraid to know where this Jack Oddly believes he is, or where he thinks he lives, or what he supposes he does day to day. She is scared to know for what that might mean for her.
One is right, one is wrong, and one of them is not very, muchly, truly real.
So they skirt, and they talk, and they edge around each other.
What should I have for breakfast today? Toast or oatmeal? Arabella, I have heard, enjoys oatmeal more.
Hawthorn, or Harriet to Jack, bats back.
Blueberries and peaches. The answer should always be blueberries and peaches drizzled in honey.
Hawthorn's friends, naturally, hear her answer a voice they cannot hear on occasion. They say nothing, though she does gain some curious side-eyes, and does, once, end up being shoed out of a hat shop when she spent an hour talking to the glass cabinet reflection.
She had been lucky, Hermione groused as she picked Hawthorn up from the station, that the Muggle police had been empathetic, and they could not explain how or why the shop keep had grown a pig nose.
In the end, it was simply and plainly put down to Hawthorn Potter being… Well, Hawthorn Potter, bizarrely odd and magnificently gifted.
And then it all changed.
There was nothing special about that Tuesday, the day had been typically rainy and drab, her shift at Saint Mungo's hectic and chaotic, both things Hawthorn thrived in, and everything had been respectably normal right up until Hawthorn had gone to brush her teeth and call it a night.
She had leant over the sink in her bathroom, spat out the toothpaste, stood back up, and there he was, watching back from the mirror of her medicine cabinet above the sink.
This one was not the man, the dimpled Jack Oddly, from her butterbeer. Neither was he a man at all, Hawthorn supposed. He was a towering thing, lithe and keenly angled, and extraordinarily beautiful, in the way earthquakes and mudslides and volcanoes could be beautiful, horrendously catastrophical, particularly pale with a shimmer to his skin, eyes of cold marbled blue, with a cloud of hair upon his head not white, or grey, or blue or lilac, but something colourlessly bright.
He was dressed remarkably too, finely, spotless, the height of fashion with velvets and silks and lovelace, if that fashion had been plucked from the eighteen hundreds, his coat a shocking leaf green.
His eyebrows, Hawthorn sluggishly realized, ended in an upward flourish… Much like her own.
"I thought I felt someone creeping along the mirror borders. However did you end up all the way over there?"
The voice was unexpected. It was low, sweetened with an enjoyable trace of rasp, with a tinge more power than the lithe body that housed it suggested possible, but it too lilted, like violin strings plucked and left alone to resonate in the still air.
It was the type of voice one felt to their very marrow.
All Hawthorn could do, a bit dumbly she thought, was blink.
He appeared to her so clearly, starkly, ridiculously real and somehow perversely surreal, much more than the odd glimpse of Jack Oddly ever was. So, it was very easy to see and, very nearly, hear the snarl he gave, a twisted knot of lush lip, and although he had pearly teeth all lined in a pretty row, Hawthorn could spot his rather sharp looking fangs.
"Yes, over there, in that repulsive domain with those outrageously small-minded wand wielders?"
Hawthorn's brow pulled down tight.
"Wand wielders? Do you mean Witches and Wizards?"
The man's hand lifted, flapped, and Hawthorn saw the sharp nails, polished and manicured, but still beastly keen.
"Is that what they are calling themselves now? How pathetically predictable. Tell me, what transgression have you committed to be banished to that miserable place?"
The man did not give her enough time to answer, which might have been nice, as Hawthorn had no answer, she did not think she was banished or had committed any transgression… In the last week, at least. Instead, the man's head cocked, dazzling frosty gaze scanning from toe to curl.
"No… Not banished. You're young… Very young… How young are you, child?"
Hawthorn's chin tilted up, nose slicing into the air as her arms came to barricade her chest haughtily.
"Child? I am not a child. I'm eighteen, I'll have you know."
The puff-ball of a man laughed heartily, a noise that sounded like glass shattering and bells ringing, teeth glinting. Abruptly, as if a sudden thought came to him, the laughter cut off steeply, a shocking drop and lurch, and he was there, back to frowning at her.
"You are not lying, are you? Quite impossible for us, I am afraid, so it is true, you are eighteen? I find myself impressed you can mirror-walk at all at your age, especially when you are over there."
Now it was Hawthorn's turn to scowl.
"What is that supposed to mean? Are you calling me weak?"
The blasted man was lucky he was over the other side of the mirror, and not anywhere Hawthorn could reach, he was being awfully rude, and she arbored disrespect.
"Obviously you are weak, confined in that place of stagnant and fixed magic, with its rules and regulations. I'm surprised you are still alive, and not been left a dry husk. How long have you been there?"
Hawthorn shook her head. Nothing was making sense, all these stagnants and mirror-walks and husks, from an ordinarily nonsensical girl that truly was saying something.
"I have no idea what you are talking about. I was born here."
His face light up like the northern star.
"A changeling then! How charming! I have not seen or met another changeling since-"
And he merely stopped, light fleeing, movement ceasing, as still and silent as stone. Hawthorn waited for something, anything, but nothing came. He simply… Zoned out. Eventually, so long Hawthorn began debating whether she should just turn the light off and leave, he snapped back from wherever he had drifted, but there was something in his gaze as he regarded her then, an intensity, shrewd, wily, avaricious.
"I thought I knew that green. You have your father's eyes, and his before his."
Hawthorn chuckled dryly.
"I have my mother's eyes. Everybody knows that."
Clearly not everyone, the reflection seemingly appeared ready to argue against her assertion, but then he was smiling, swiftly changing again, coquettish and coy.
"Yes, yes, delightful and decided."
"Decided? What's decided exactly?"
He tutted at her.
"That you will come home of course! You stay cut off from your true magic for much longer, and you will waste away like driftwood on a pyre… We can't have that now, can we? Certainly not! Home you will come."
Hawthorn, for the first time since meeting this strange reflection, took a glance around her, to the tidy little bathroom, in the darkened hall, in the silent house of Grimmauld place.
"But I am home."
It happened all so very fast. A crack, something fizzing in the air, and-
An arm, clad in a leaf green coat, came shooting out the mirror, clawed fingers wrapping into the thin fabric of her pyjama shirt.
With a yank, she was hauled forward, sucked up through the mirror, and she was falling, tumbling, plunging through a place between places, space among spaces, air flanked by air and-
Hawthorn Potter was gone.
Next Chapter: Jonathan Strange begins to find his way in the world of magic when he meets a man under a hedge, but as his studies commence he begins to wonder where the girl from the brandy cup has gone, and why his mirror has been silent for months…
A.N: So I missed yesterday's update, and I'm not sure how many updates of this fic I am going to do this week, as it turns out, I'm rather more busy than I expected for being on holiday (As is the way) lol. However, here is the next chapter! I hope you all liked it, and our first little taste of the Gentleman with Thistledown hair. As always, if you liked this, and wish to read more, don't forget to drop a review! Stay Beautiful! ~AlwaysEatTheRude21
P.S: Arabella does not end up married to Jonathan Strange in this fic, but they do become good friends, and there will be some Arabella/Lady Pole feels coming this way, so heads up if any of this bothers you.