Through the Looking Glass (Redux)

Title: Falling Through the Looking Glass (Redux)
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Pairing: fem!Harry/Charlus
Summary: Blood dripped from her hand, evidence of the quill Umbridge used on her … but all Ivy can do is stare at the reflection shown to her through the Mirror of Erised, wishing, somehow, it could be real.  AU.

Warnings: rule 63, chan (18/15), time travel, unknowing incest.

I.

Two nights before Charlus left for his grand tour, he set one of the Potter engagement rings beside his bed.  He cared for Dorea very deeply.  She would make the perfect wife and, per Potter tradition, he would propose to her before going off on his two-year grand tour.

However, he had held off this long.  Something—some small feeling that stirred in the recesses of his heart—made him hold back and wonder if perhaps this was not the best course of action.

Charlus knew what was expected of him.  He had dated Dorea for a full eight months and before he had asked her to Hogsmeade, he remembered thinking, “Well, old chap, this is one of your last shots at finding your bride.  Better be demmed sure.”

He had continued to see Dorea, but he held back.  He never alluded to their futures, made any declarations of his affections past “being glad to see her” or commenting that she was “looking pretty” or “turned out well.”  It was hardly a romantic courtship by any means of the imagination.  Dorea was the best he could come across and so, well, Charlus had settled for her.  He didn’t like to admit that he had done so, but when the time came closer and closer to proposing, he began to realize that a chap could settle for one’s girlfriend, but certainly not for one’s wife.

A girlfriend was for now.

A wife was forever.

Charlus simply didn’t want Dorea for longer than a few months at a time, and certainly didn’t want to have children with her.  It was a harsh truth, but one he was glad he had realized in time.

When he woke up the next morning, he slid the ring into his drawer and accepted her calm goodbyes, noticing that she seemed more preoccupied with the lack of ring or proposal than the fact that he would be going away for two years.

“Where do you plan to go?” she asked politely, half an hour into the conversation.

“Wherever the wind takes me,” he answered with a sip of his tea.  “Colonized Africa, the Far East.”

“How marvelous.”  Her lips turned down into a little moue, her wild, black hair falling about her.

Charlus took another long sip of his tea.   “What is it?”

“Oh,” she visibly startled, which was unlike her.  “It’s nothing, just old family history.”  She set her own cup of tea down and shifted her skirts which were a dark blue under black lace.  The color brought out the pink of her lips.  Her eyes were the gray of the Blacks, and Charlus absently wondered, if they were to have children, if they would inherit his auburn hair or her unruly black curls.  A small voice inside his head told him that he never wanted to find out.  She was too—

Dorea refilled his cup with a perfect turn of her wrist.

Perfect.  Dorea was too perfect.  She was unfeeling and cold and just what every man should want, but—Charlus realized with startling clarity—he just didn’t want her.  Why had it taken him so long to realize this?  Here he was on the eve of his departure, the Potter engagement ring tucked safely away in the vault, and he was leaving without a loving fiancée.

He would have to come home and start his search all over again.

Unless he found a woman on his travels.—The thought, though, was too ludicrous to even consider.

“You know how I love history,” Charlus plied.  In fact, History of Magic had been his favorite class at Hogwarts and he was expected to receive the highest mark in his year in that particular subject.

Dorea blushed at him while taking a sip of her tea.  “This is closer to gossip.  You abhor gossip, Charlus.”

Charlus was becoming annoyed.  “Gossip often has its roots in reality.  Come, Dorea.  Give me something to ponder on my travels.”

Dorea looked up at him sharply, her gray eyes accusing, but she nodded her head nonetheless.  “Well, it is more of gossip really.  I mean, the girl doesn’t even have a Black name.”

Charlus looked at her speculatively.

Dorea took in a deep breath.  “It appears that I have a cousin, slightly younger than myself, who is a half-blood.  She’s been hidden away in some colony and no one properly knows her name.   All we know is that she’s not named after a star.”

“Surely you must—“

“Her father is even a mystery.  I told you it wasn’t much history but more gossip,” Dorea complained.  “There’s a white sheep in the House of Black, this girl’s existence is proof of it, but no one knows who her father is!”

Charlus looked at Dorea over his cup.

“Can you imagine the shame of it all?  It would have been better if she had just remained in obscurity.  In the colonies, they don’t mind illegitimate children or half bloods as we do here.”

Charlus stared at her long and hard.  “Perhaps it would have been better if she had never been born.”

Dorea’s face brightened.  “Exactly.”

Charlus was glad that he had decided to never propose to this woman.  She was utterly repulsive to him.

When his parents questioned him on his return to the manor, Charlus looked his mother in the eye.  “I came to realize she could never meet the standards you have set.”

“We got the ring back out of the vault, in case you changed your mind,” his father said imperiously. 

Charlus’s mother, however, wasn’t listening.  “What standards?  She is a paragon of womanhood.”  His mother worried her hands.

“She appears that way,” Charlus agreed.  His tone, however, was final.

Charlus and his father’s eyes met and held for several long moments before the older man nodded in agreement.  The matter was settled then.

His father quieted his mother and Charlus finished his packing for his tour.  Whenever his thoughts turned to Dorea, it was not in a favorable light.  First he went to the Falkland Islands, but it was during his time in Tunisia that he first dreamt of the witch with a Black’s gray eyes, falling, falling, falling—through a looking glass.

II.

Charlus was dreaming of Hogwarts, which really was a first for him.  Usually he dreamt of home, of wandering the halls when they were cold and full of cobwebs, almost as if he were transported into the past or the far distant future when his home would lie in ruins.  They were odd dreams.  However, this was almost stranger.

Charlus felt like he was watching, waiting, like he was a Muggle and in one of their theatres that he’d heard one of the Muggleborns go on about once.

He saw a deserted classroom, desks and chairs covered in dust, an old blackboard with half erased words on it.  He recognized the handwriting as belonging to Professor Binns and, strangely, the date was from two years from now.  The chalk was so faded and the room so neglected, however, that it must not have been used in decades, which perplexed Charlus immensely.

A tall ornate mirror was in the back of the room, but Charlus paid it little mind, until a girl with fiery gray eyes and short, cropped black hair rushed into the room.  Her face was long and thin, her cheekbones high and, Charlus realized, although her hair was short it was undeniably messy and it undoubtedly reminded him of Dorea’s hair.

A thought flitted across his mind—

This couldn’t possibly be her—

Dorea swore that she was somewhere in the colonies; however, some part of him reminded him that this was only a dream.

It was like all of dreams where he was walking among ruins, but instead this time he saw a girl who could not sense his presence.  She stared down at her hand that had a bloody cloth wrapped around it, making hissing noises when the back of her nails brushed too close or the bandages shifted.  Charlus could see that the several layers of bandages were soaked through and getting bloodier by the moment, and it appeared the girl could see it as well.

“Come on, Ivy Harriet,” she murmured to herself, an edge to her voice.  “It’s no worse than last time.”

Carefully she began to unwind the bandages and Charles stared at her face intently, seeing how beautiful she was even through the pain.  Her eyes, he realized, were a mossy-gray, showing her Black heritage even more and her hands were long and slim, like Dorea’s older brother Marius.  His mind railed against him, but he couldn’t deny the evidence before him.  This was the little lost Black Dorea had been gossiping about—and she was strong and beautiful.

Nassferssssssai,” Ivy hissed out, and Charlus looked at her in shock.

This girl was a Parselmouth?  He couldn’t quite believe it.  How could a Black—?

The Blacks must not have known.  It would not have mattered if she were illegitimate or a half-blood if they learned of her bloodline talent.  She was a descendant of Slytherin, undoubtedly through her mother’s side, and Charlus, who found that he had a body in the dream and was sitting on a desk opposite this ethereal girl, inched closer to her.

He breathed in deeply, taking in the scent of her jasmine soap, and wondered if Ivy had been everything he had been unknowingly looking for but before now had never found.

Ivy looked up and startled when her eyes met Charlus.  “S-Sorry,” she apologized.  “I didn’t mean—I didn’t know this room was haunted.”

Charlus looked at her incredulously.

“Do you want me to go?”

“No,” he murmured, glancing down at her hand.  The bandage had been completely discarded and there were deep cuts in the form of words—I must not tell lies.

He picked up his wand, a healing spell at the tip of his tongue.

“No, don’t!” Ivy cried out, reaching for him, yet not touching him. 

Charlus lowered his wand in confusion.  “Why ever not?”

“Magic makes it worse,” Ivy explained.  She bent down and rifled through her bag before holding up a jar of Essence of Murtlap.  “This usually does the trick.”  She smiled at him a bit warily, before sitting down and making short work of her hand, as if she had done this many times before.

“Did a blood quill do that?” Charlus asked Ivy after several long minutes.

Ivy looked up and blinked at him, and Charlus wondered why she wasn’t surprised to find him there, even if this was his dream.

“Yes,” she replied simply.

“This isn’t the first time.”

She laughed hollowly.  “Hardly.”

Short answers to a man she didn’t know.  Ivy certainly was a Black.  “Who did this to you?”

Ivy looked up suddenly, her Murtlap coated fingers suspended between the jar and the back of her hand.  Her eyes locked on his hazel ones before they roamed over his body.  The attention was shocking coming from a young lady, but Charlus strangely found that he didn’t mind.  He looked her over quickly and saw that she was wearing a Gryffindor uniform, which was strange.

Perhaps his subconscious yearned for something other than Slytherin cunning in the beauty of a Black?

Their eyes met again.  “It doesn’t matter.”

“Of course it does.  They’re illegal.  If someone is hurting you—“

“I have no one to care about it,” she replied dismissively, going back to her hand.

Charlus thought back to everything he knew about her.  Her father was some Black in England but—

“What about your mother?”

Ivy laughed again.  “She was murdered.”  She was now finished with the Murtlap, and stashed it away in her bag and made for the door.  “It was lovely talking to you—“

“—Charlus,” he supplied with a smile, following her toward the door and, incidentally, the ornate mirror.

However, Ivy was no longer listening.  She was staring at their joint reflection in the mirror.  Ivy’s hand was completely healed and she was wearing moss green dress robes and the Potter engagement ring he had initially taken out for Dorea on her left ring finger.  Charlus stood behind her, proud and tall, a smile on his face, and a wedding ring around his own finger.  He looked utterly complete and happy, and perhaps a little bit smug to be holding Ivy in his arms.

“The Mirror of Erised,” Charlus murmured.

Ivy whipped around but her eyes went right through him.  “Charlus?” she called, her eyes searching through the classroom, before they eventually trained back on the image which remained unchanged.

Slowly, she reached forward with her blood stained fingers and, as soon as she touched it, she fell through the looking glass.

III.

There had been blood on the mirror when Charlus Potter woke up. He blinked several times in the dim light of early morning, trying to figure out exactly how it had gotten there, his dream fading from him.  A soft snuffling sound caught his attention and he was startled to see a girl, a few years younger than himself, curled up in a chair, her bleeding hand cradled against her chest.  Ivy Harriet, his minded supplied to him.  Ivy Harriet Black. 

Charlus looked back at the mirror.  That explained how the blood got there, but not where Ivy had come from.  She had been his dream—or he had been hers—and she had fallen through the ancient mirror to land here.

The cottage was small with little more than a bed, a kitchen (if you could call it that), and a living room.   His “cottage” in Tunisia, as Charlus liked to think of it, was in a Muggle area but heavily warded.  No one could enter without express magical permission, and Charlus had never given Ivy permission to enter, although he couldn’t truthfully say he was unhappy with the turn of events.

Carefully, he pulled his wand from under his pillow and leveled it at the sleeping girl.  “Expelliarmus,” he whispered quietly, not wanting to wake Ivy, wishing to give her as much sleep as possible.  A wand flew out of Ivy’s sleeve, answering one of Charlus’s questions.  A Muggle hadn’t managed to get into his home, but a witch, one who went to Hogwarts and was a Gryffindor from the looks of her robes.  His dream seemed to be becoming less and less of a dream and more of a reality.

Charlus had never taken divination but he was beginning to wonder if he was a bit clairvoyant given what had happened over the past eight hours.

Charlus slipped Ivy’s wand under his pillow and crept across his bed, careful to keep his eyes on the enchanting girl. He found it fascinating that a witch who hadn’t taken her N.E.W.T.s had managed to get past his wards when he knew his own father wouldn’t be able to.  Reaching out hesitantly, Charlus tipped the girl’s head up, praying that it was in fact Ivy Black and not one of his Gryffindor housemates, but gladly saw that it was the girl from his dreams.  Messy black hair fell into the sleeping girl’s eyes and a livid scar in the shape of a lightning bolt marred her forehead.  Ivy had high, pureblood cheekbones, the Black nose, and long, thin fingers that were typical of the older families in England and Wales.  Still, Charlus had no idea if she truly was the mysterious Black or someone from Britain, even though he had grown up around the children of all the notable families in England and Scotland. 

Glancing down at Ivy’s bleeding hand, Charlus stared at the horrible words etched into the skin.  That, unfortunately, had not been a dream.  His jaw clenched.  Charlus knew that several of the old families used blood quills as punishments, but rarely often enough to leave permanent scars on the back of a child’s hand.  They didn’t want to permanently mark an heir, after all.  He sneered to himself at the hypocrisy of it all.  It was surprising that the Blacks used a quill on one so old.  His stomach turned cold at the lie Dorea had told him when she insisted that the Blacks didn’t hold with such outdated ideas.  The evidence was clearly to the contrary, if Ivy’s father had contact with her.  A Muggle mother would never do this to her offspring.  A squib certainly wouldn’t given that they were often on the receiving end of such a punishment!  Charlus wondered if it had anything to do with this particular Black having been Sorted into Gryffindor; it was completely unheard of for a Black not to be in Slytherin.  Perhaps that was why Charlus hadn’t heard of her or perhaps why Dorea had lied about this Black’s location, if Ivy was indeed who he thought she was. 

A recalcitrant Black.

A smile formed on his face.  Charlus rather liked the sound of that. 

He carefully reached out and brushed the messy black fringe from Ivy’s face and gray eyes slowly fluttered open and met his questioning gaze.

Ivy gasped at the sight of Charlus and leaned back momentarily before staring, her eyes wide behind horn-rimmed glasses.  “It’s you,” she murmured and then smiled tentatively up at Charlus.  “I thought you were a ghost.”

The statement was odd, but Charlus didn’t have time for it at the moment.  “Who did this to you?” Charlus asked quietly as he traced the blood-stained edges of the cut.  “Who made it scar?”

Startled at the question from the previous evening being repeated, Ivy looked up at him.  “What does it matter?  No one’s going to do anything about it.”

Charlus clenched his jaw at the hopelessness of the statement.  

“How did I get here?” Ivy questioned, looking about the room.  “Where am I?”

Laughing, Charlus traced the hand gently once more before releasing it.  “I was going to ask you the same thing, young Black.  No one should be able to get through my wards.”

“I always seem to do the impossible,” Ivy acknowledged, her eyes leaving Charlus’s face for a moment and focusing on the mirror, her brow furrowed in thought.  “I think I fell through a mirror—the Mirror of Erised.”

“Desire,” Charlus whispered to himself, sitting back on the bed and taking in Ivy’s form.  “You are a long way from Hogwarts.”

“The farther the better,” Ivy admitted tiredly.  “And so are you.  And you’re no longer a ghost.”

Charlus’s eyes narrowed.  “I just graduated last month and I don’t recognize you.  You’re clearly a Black—”

Ivy jumped at the assertion, surprising Charlus.

“—but Dorea never mentioned a cousin or niece Sorted anywhere but in Slytherin.  Your parents must not be pleased.  Is that why they did that to you?” He pointed to the bloodied hand, and Ivy looked down at it, her brow lined in thought.

“I don’t have any parents to care, not anymore.”  She stood up and turned to the mirror, gently reaching out and tracing the dried blood as if trying to remember how she got to the small cottage in Tunisia. 

“Then are you the lost Black?” Charlus questioned carefully.

Ivy startled.  “The lost Black?”

“Yes.  Before I left England, Dorea told me of the lost Black who lived in the colonies.  I know I dreamt of you at Hogwarts—“

“That was a dream for you?” Ivy asked, surprised.  She ran a hand through her short hair, revealing the livid scar on her forehead.

Charlus couldn’t help but look at it.  “It was.  But are you the lost Black?”

Ivy smiled to herself sadly, clearly thinking of something or someone.  “I suppose I am, in a way,” she admitted.

Charlus looked over her shoulder, marveling at the eyes so perfect for a Black, and met Ivy’s gaze through the looking glass.

IV.

Ivy had never left, and, within a few hours, Charlus found that he hadn’t wanted her to.  The scars on her hand slowly healed but the one on Ivy’s forehead never did.  Ivy had never willingly given her name, saying that if Charlus hadn’t known it then it wasn’t important, and had been startled when Charlus had offered to give her one, but had said nothing in response.

Charlus soon after had started buying her fresh ivy, and she couldn’t help but smile, throwing herself into Charlus’s arms and placing the small bundles around the cottage.

When a Hogwarts letter didn’t come in August, Ivy had seemed almost relieved, and Charlus had been secretly glad, wondering why he spent half of every night awake, just watching Ivy sleep from the doorway of her room, tracing the scars on her hand with his eyes and promising himself that if he ever found who did it, he would make them pay.

“What’s your favorite star?” Charlus asked one dry night in October when they were in the desert, a telescope set up as Charlus quietly taught Ivy Hogwarts’ sixth-year curriculum. 

“Sirius, the dog star,” Ivy had whispered, and although Charlus knew her name was Ivy Harriet, he had taken to call her Ivy Siria, which made her laugh happily. 

Charlus knew that there were secrets hidden beneath the smoky gray eyes, but he never pried.  Instead, he fell quietly in love with Ivy, teaching her everything he knew as they traveled from Tunisia, to Jerusalem, to Russia, and then finally to Japan. There they quietly married when Ivy was finally seventeen, cutting the palms of their hands with a silver dagger and then feeding each other from a pomegranate to signify their union (according to pureblood rites that were rarely used now, but were still valid by magical law). 

Never asking how Ivy had fallen through the mirror to find him, Charlus was content to love his wife. They finally arrived back in England after knowing each other for just under two years so that Ivy could take her N.E.W.T.s before they set off again to travel the world. 

Stepping through the fireplace, Charlus arrived at twelve, Grimmauld Place during Ivy’s second day of exams, and was unsurprised to see Dorea waiting for him.  He knew that it was only a matter of hours before his return was known, especially as he had sent his parents a letter to tell them to expect him for tea in a fortnight. He didn’t want to distress Ivy before her exams were finished by meeting her parents-in-law, knowing that they would be angry that Charlus had married without telling them and had been living, pseudo-platonically, with his wife while she was still underage.  It wasn’t as if Charlus was going to let Ivy slip away from him.  He loved her almost from the first and he gave her the proper respect every pureblood lady deserved—privacy, her own room, and courting her properly although they lived under one roof—and he provided for her. 

He was also convinced that she was a pureblood.  Her mother must have been a Squib for Ivy to be a Parselmouth, and the heirs of Slytherin would only marry purebloods.  There was no other explanation.  Sometimes Charlus wondered if Ivy’s father was Phineas Black, Dorea’s exiled uncle.  He could see the Blacks banishing one of its members for marrying a pureblood Squib.

“Mr. Potter,” Dorea greeted from the top of the stairs, bending into a low curtsey.  He bowed back to her, sweeping his hat from his head.  “What a pleasure to see you after all these years.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” he answered as he came up the stairs, allowing her to lead him into the sitting room for a light snack.

He knew she was expecting a proposal or an overture of good faith.  He saw that she wasn’t wearing a wedding band and knew that if she had been engaged, it would have been the first topic of conversation as she handed him a cup of pumpkin tea and a shortbread.  His eyes strayed to the family tapestry against one wall, wondering where exactly Ivy would be placed on it, and if his deductions had been correct.

“I must admit I hadn’t expected you so soon,” Dorea began, smiling at him, and his eyes strayed to her messy black hair that fell to her shoulders, barely tamed by the many pins that sought to give it some semblance of order.  It reminded him so much of Ivy’s hair, which now fell to near her shoulders, and if there had been any doubt in his mind that Ivy was a Black, it was erased in that moment.  “I thought you would be traveling for at least another six months before finding your way back home.”

She didn’t mention marriage, Charlus was happy to realize.  “We came back for the N.E.W.T. exams,” he confessed carefully. 

Dorea looked up at him with gray eyes full of questions.

“My wife just finished the seventh-year curriculum,” he admitted as he watched the witch he had once contemplated marrying.  “There was no conceivable reason to wait until we finished our travels when we could easily come back to England for a few weeks.”

She glanced at his left hand and saw his wedding band.  “Oh, I see,” she said carefully, her voice strained. She set down her own teacup and fidgeted with the sleeve of her dress.  “Do I know her?”

“Yes, I think so,” Charlus began carefully.  “She’s a Black.”

Her gray eyes flashed as she looked at him before turning back to the tapestry.  “She must be from one of the earlier offshoots,” Dorea mused, getting up and walking over to the tapestry.  “It only records names for four or five generations after they break off from the main line, even if they carry the name of Black.  I would have noticed if you were added onto it.”

“That must be it,” Charlus replied, silently disappointed that Ivy was so cut off that he didn’t even have a place on a moth-eaten tapestry.  “It’s of little importance.”  To the Blacks.  It meant everything to him, but he wasn’t going to dig up old history about the illegitimate Black and mar Ivy when they returned to English wizarding society.  Her coloring and marriage would be enough and if she ever hissed at anyone…well…

“No,” Dorea answered hollowly.  “No, I suppose not.”

Charlus didn’t stay much longer.  There was still over an hour before Ivy would finish with his Charms practical, so Charlus wandered the halls of Hogwarts, looking into classrooms where classes were going on for everyone not taking O.W.L.s or N.E.W.T.s.  He meandered into an empty classroom, not wanting to listen to a few witches who were trying to follow him and giggling behind their hands. He locked the door carefully behind him.  He wasn’t certain he had ever been in this room before.  Few classes were taught on the fourth floor, after all.

Looking around, he saw an old mirror in the corner and, remembering what Ivy had admitted the first day they met and what he himself had dreamt, he walked forward, looking at the warning inscribed in the frame, knowing this was the mirror Ivy had looked into and somehow fallen through two years earlier.  Bloodstained fingerprints hovered near the middle and Charlus reached out hesitantly, but didn’t touch them, afraid that he would somehow lose himself inside the mirror.  Taking a step back, he took in a deep breath. 

He didn’t need to look.  Charlus had everything he wanted without falling through the looking glass.

The End.

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