2.6 Like a Phoenix

Chloe’s stuff on her side of the room was mocking her. But like Chloe, it would soon be gone. Chloe’s parents were flying over from Del Sol Valley today to collect her belongings.

Hawthorne couldn’t be there when that happened. What would she say to them? How could she look at them?

She wasn’t sure how she could ever do much of anything now. But life was expected to go on.

All the university was doing in response to the three students that drowned in the river on New Year’s Eve was hosting a talk about responsible drinking. Like that was going to bring Chloe back. A fucking talk about responsible drinking.

It was her fault, what happened to Chloe. She knew how drunk her roommate was, and she still left her at the party on her own. Hawthorne didn’t know the other two students who died, but they must have been at the party too. They must have decided a New Year’s swim would be a great idea… If only Hawthorne didn’t leave the party…

It was only then the realisation hit her.

Dandelion and her were sat by the river for a good portion of the night, on the little beach. They should have seen them all, going for their swim. They could have stopped them. But her mind was so all over the place that night, she didn’t notice anyone else there at all.

The walls of the room were closing in on her. It felt like she was suffocating. But it was not Hawthorne who had suffocated. She still got to breathe, and Chloe’s stupid pink stuff was here to witness it.

Hawthorne couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t stand to be in the room for a second longer, but didn’t know where to go. Everywhere on campus just reminded her of Chloe.

Everyone on campus did too. Chloe was well-liked. Some of the students were holding a vigil in the quad for Chloe and the others, but Hawthorne couldn’t bear to go.

Just get out. Get the hell out of here.

Hawthorne started digging through her stuff frantically. It took her a while to find it, but the metal fragment was there.

She wrapped it in her hand tightly, closing her eyes even tighter. Make everything disappear…

She’d never used the glimmerstone before – never needed to, with how close her parents lived to the magic realm portal – but it worked just the way Morgyn had described.

Hawthorne felt a bit relieved at the sight of HQ. The magic realm had always been her happy place, somewhere where everything was possible.

The realm and the Sylvan Glade were also places where she always felt removed from the real world – although up until now, she had not considered that could be a good thing.

She headed up to the untamed magic sage’s quarters.

“Hawthorne, what a surprise!” The untamed magic sage looked up from their book, motioning it away. “I thought you’d be back in Britechester by now.”

Hawthorne ignored the statement, sitting down beside them… Britechester was the last thing she wanted to talk about. “I’m ready. I want to become a spellcaster.”

“What happened to finishing your degree first?” Morgyn asked slowly.

The sage clearly hadn’t expected that request, but they looked calm as usual. One of the best things about Morgyn was how calm they always were, no matter what. Hawthorne wished she could borrow a bit of that ability from them.

But regardless of the sage’s demeanour, she couldn’t say what really happened. Not even to them. Luckily, she knew exactly what Morgyn wanted to hear.

“You were right,” she told them. “Studying physics is a waste of time. None of it compares to what I’ve seen here.”

It wasn’t entirely untrue. Hawthorne didn’t find the lecture material particularly stimulating. In her 18 years of existence, she’d transportalated with Morgyn countless times, seen them stop aging and produce elements out of thin air. Heck, she owned a pet bird made of flames. Her professors’ view of what was possible was limited, to say the least.

But both Hawthorne and Morgyn knew there was much more to her time in Britechester than physics.

“As your father once pointed out, attending university was about you having options. And I gathered you’ve been enjoying yourself.” Morgyn replied. “So as pleased as I am with your decision, I can’t help but wonder what’s changed.”

Hawthorne could feel salt stinging in her eyes.  

“Everything’s changed. I can’t… I can’t go back. Something terrible happened. And it’s all my fault. And I can’t take it back.” She tried to compose herself, holding back tears. “I just… I need this fresh start. Like a phoenix.”

The sage didn’t reply straight away, so she carried on. “I was always going to start my training eventually, so why not now? I’ve learned everything there’s to know in Britechester. I want to train here, with you, now. I want to ascend.”

Thankfully, Morgyn didn’t ask about it further. They just gave her a small nod. “I’ll make it happen.”

Relief washed over Hawthorne, for the first time in days. She wasn’t sure how to feel, exactly, but at least the world wasn’t collapsing on her for a moment.

“Unfortunately, I have to take care of a bit of bureaucracy with my fellow sages in order to arrange your ascension.” Morgyn told her. “I won’t bore you with the details. Why don’t I call on you when everything is ready?”

“You want me to go back?” The tightness in her chest returned. “No, I can’t… could I stay with you? I know I can’t really start my training till the ascension, but don’t make me go back.”

Morgyn studied her face for a moment. “Why don’t you go stay with your parents while I take care of things?”

Her parents… That was out of the question.

She shook her head. “I can’t tell them what happened. I’ve done something terrible. I can’t… they wouldn’t… they can’t know.”

“I think you’ll find your parents are rather open-minded people.” Morgyn said, as if they didn’t know her parents at all.

“Yeah, right.” Hawthorne smirked. “They can’t even handle you.”

“Don’t hold that against them. No one can handle me.” Morgyn let out a laugh, before growing more serious. “But trust me, whatever it is, they will understand.”

Doubtful, Hawthorne thought. “What if I killed someone?” She asked, hoping her tone sounded casual. Did Morgyn notice the change in her voice?

“Did you?” Morgyn asked without raising an eyebrow.

“Oh course not.” She forced a laugh. “But this is mum and dad we’re talking about. They’re generally weird about stuff.”

Morgyn hesitated.

“They might surprise you.” They said finally.

Hawthorne’s glanced towards her family home. The light was on, so her parents had to be in.

Just talk to them… Oh, hi mum and dad, I see you’re super weird around each other as per usual. Good times. Anyway, someone is dead because of me, so I’ll be moving back home. By the way, grandma was a mass murderer.

Definitely not. She walked by the house swiftly and headed for the tree passage.

Dandelion was by the waterfall. He was playing his wonky violin, until he spotted her, that was.

“Hawthorne?” It was clear from the look in his eyes he didn’t want to see her.

His expression softened as she got closer. “What’s wrong?” He reached out towards her.

“Dandy… Chloe is dead.”

She didn’t hold her tears back this time.

***

Morgyn was pacing around the room. Hawthorne was never supposed to feel the need to reinvent herself. She was never supposed to want for anything, that was the whole point. There wasn’t supposed to be anything she’d have to run away from.

The sage didn’t want to think about what could have possibly pushed her to this state. Best thing they could do for her was make good on their promise. But the timing couldn’t be worse.

Morgyn always expected pushback when it came to time for Hawthorne to ascend. Ascending to the ranks of spellcasters for those who were born without magic were rare to begin with, last having taken place well over 20 years ago.

But Minerva Charm’s apprehension over a mere human marrying into the old Charm family was a whole other scenario.

Over the years, Morgyn had always pictured Simeon ranting about responsibility and a half-vampire ascending. They expected L Faba would fall in line, like she always did eventually, at the times that mattered. But they should have known better.

“She’ll never ascend. You need all three sages’ blessings to become a spellcaster. And she’s not getting the mischief one.”

Granted, a number of factors have changed since that night. Morgyn only needed to secure a single sage vote now. In theory, everything was playing into Morgyn’s favour.

Except that Simeon was still grumpy, still insisting that Darrel Charm was their successor and refusing to handle any official sage business.

Darrel Charm. There was no way the so-called acting sage would be in favour of Hawthorne’s ascension, Morgyn knew that.

So what options did that leave them with? Grovel to L Faba?

No, they would not beg L Faba for anything.

Not now, not ever.

16 thoughts on “2.6 Like a Phoenix

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  1. For a moment I thought Hawthorne would realise the holes in the University’s story of Chloe and the other students’ deaths seeing as she was by the river. But she saw it as her having overlooked three rowdy students screaming in the river. Damn. Poor Hawthorne. You weren’t kidding when you said this was going to be glum. Dealing with death is never easy. I can’t fault Hawthorne for thinking about running away first thing. It speaks a lot about how repressed Hawthorne could be in that she can’t confide in anyone except Dandy. She even feels she has to thread carefully around Morgyn. Although personally I think that’s a good thing. That big fat elephant in the room is awkwarrrd… Hawthorne saying her parents are weird to the person who had a hand in their weirdness.

    Morgyn thinking in godparent mode sounds like a dream for their godchild tbh. No expectations, except that she’d hopefully want to be a spellcaster-vamp hybrid. Rotten timing is right. Now Morgyn has to either win Faba’s favor or Darrel’s which lol I can’t imagine either. I want them to go for Faba ofc but oh well. They’d need something huge for either of them to drop their egos. Though with Faba having cast the love spell on herself she’s already standing on unequal ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Hawthorne is in no place to put on a detective hat at the moment, she has far too much going on and her last investigative streak when she tried to solve the sprite mystery sort of blew up in her face, so… That being said that doesn’t necessarily mean the university is lying, they may well believe the students drowning is what happened.

      At least Hawthorne does have Dandy! Hopefully they can help each other in this challenging time. Elephant in the room indeed. If only Hawthorne knew!

      Morgyn is definitely better at being a godparent than at being a romantic partner, that’s for sure. Though as you say if Hawthorne opened up to them about her loss and feelings of guilt, they probably would not have been great at offering warm fuzzies. They do try to stand behind her though, so that’s something 😅

      Oof, who si more likely to support Morgyn with this, L Faba or Darrel… I guess we’ll find out soon!

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  2. Oh Hawthorne… I hope once she’s had a chance to calm down and cope that she’ll realize the whole story doesn’t make sense. Dandy is such a sweet friend. I could feel that hug through my computer.

    It is killing me how much good potential Morgyn has but they’re so dang stubborn. They seem to have such a big heart that they refuse to fill. I’m interested to see how this issue with Darrel plays out.

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    1. Hard to say if Hawthorne will ever get enough missing pieces to learn what happened to Chloe, but hopefully she’ll realise it was not her fault eventually… although… she technically was the reason Alba fed on Chloe…

      Aww. I think both of them needed that hug.

      “They seem to have such a big heart that they refuse to fill.” Ooh, I like the way you’ve put that! They definitely are stubborn, unfortunately.

      Let’s see how it all plays out! What’s one more squabble among the realm’s sages at this point, right? 😀

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  3. I wasn’t expecting Hawthorne to really become a spellcaster but I still think it’s more likely than anyone liking Darrell. 😛 (“will she do blood magic tho” is the comment I was trying to avoid…especially after what happened at uni)

    And Micah’s obviously not gonna tell her much about Alba and company. I wonder how much he expects that answer anyways…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, what a burn on Darrel. Poor guy 😀 Ooh, blood magic! That would definitely be interesting. I suppose we’ll have to see if she does get to become a spellcaster at all first before figuring out what kind she would be 🙂

      Oh yeah, I don’t imagine Micah’s told her any stories about his time with Verena’s coven, not a time in his life he likes reminiscing on all that much.

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  4. Welp that was indeed a glum chapter, contrasting the hopeful title. It’s sad to see Hawthorne choosing to become a sage as a way of escaping her problems. Would she even LIKE being the Sage of Practical Magic?
    Morgyn has their work cut out for them now, I can’t see either L Faba or Darryl agreeing to Hawthorne becoming a sage. Poor Simeon should have closed all loopholes before saying majority votes for all matters, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glum indeed. No getting around Hawhtorne learning that her roommate is dead though, so it had to come eventually.

      Oof, sage of practical magic? You’ve given Hawthorne quite the promotion! 😀 She definitely does not have abilities for that, she’s not even a spellcaster. The ascension her and Morgyn were talking about is just ascending from “human”/non-spellcaster to a spellcaster. Which is actually pretty infrequent, since it happens to be one of the matters that would have previously required a blessing from all three sages. Simeon’s changes mean that it’s “only” two now…. so that technically makes things easier? But still a bit of an uphill battle, with how turbulent the whole sage situation is in the realm, yep.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh that makes so much sense! The whole time I was thinking, ‘I thought she was MORGYN’S heir?’ but yeah, either way it’s going to be hard to get approval. I’d say it’d be easier to convince Darryl than L Faba, to whom it is personal, but Darryl might have more of a backbone than I expect 😆

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        1. Oh yes, I don’t think Hawthorne even knows the practical magic sage position is sort of up in the air at the moment. Let’s not add to her plate 😀 We shall see what Morgyn opts for – and if Darrel has a backbone 🙂

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  5. Woah, three students? I’m guessing vamps in your world don’t leave puncture holes? Although the students would still be bloodless. Maybe it’s a cover up. I’m getting distracted. Three students are dead, Chloe is one of them and now Hawthorne is without room mate and without direction. ‘Responsible drinking’. I see what you did there, but I doubt thirsty Alba attended that session, lol.

    Ah, back to the magic realm, so it’s probably time to check in with SimLit’s greatest role model. Does their room get even more flamboyant every time we see it? Ooh, that’s a weighty decision to make on a whim, Hawthorne. I’d say it was grief, but all her decisions are like this. Teenagers. Yep, massage Morgyn’s ego and they’ll give you anything, well done. She actually does blame herself. Oh dear. She really needs to share that. Gah.

    “I think you’ll find your parents are rather open-minded people.” I think they kinda are. They put up with Morgyn long enough, after all. “No one can handle me.” This is one of those statements like “I’ll only break your heart” that just ‘excuses’ so much shit… I can’t even… words… agh. 😫😒

    “You may have killed someone? Your mind is heavy with regrets and you probably shouldn’t be left alone? Never mind. Off you pop.”

    “By the way, grandma was a mass murderer.” It’s not funny but… OK, you know why this is funny to me. If not I’ll PM you. Anyways, dying. 😆

    Dandelion. ❤ He didn’t want to see her and yet he put all that aside the second he saw that she needed comfort and just offered it.

    Oh god, back to Morgyn. Ooh what option will they go for? Personally I’d like to see them grovelling to L Faba, but they’ll probably be more underhanded and destructive than that, so I predict they’ll utilise the other Charm family members (one in particular) to sway Darrel. Or maybe they’ll duel for it. Actually I don’t know how this might go. Will it involve a hammock?

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    1. They do leave puncture holes. Whether all three students were Alba’s doing or not is unclear. Maybe she was drinking responsibly. Probably not though 😀

      I can just see how thrilled you are to visit the spouse. Their room has changed slightly over the years – so have Cordelia’s and Micah’s, but they’re less in your face of course 😀 Yep, Hawthorne is pretty impulsive, but also knows what will work on Morgyn, what a great combination!

      Her parents are open-minded! With some things. Oh yeah, that statement is a very Morgyn thing to say, for sure.

      Weeeell since guilt over causing someone’s death is something Morgyn has ample experience with and we have seen them discuss the subject with both Cordelia and Micah, the alternative to sending Hawthorne to talk to someone who they think will handle the feels better would have been Morgyn imparting their excellent coping mechanisms and giving her one of their signature “bury the guilt” pep talks… not sure that would have made you happier, though 😀

      A part of me would have loved to see how the “btw, grandma was a mass murderer” conversation would go, alas not today.

      Dandy did do that. It may do him some good, too, neither of them is in a terrific place so at least they can lean on each other.

      Will Morgyn a) grovel to someone, b) duel someone to the death, c) set the magic realm on fire or d) go snooze in a hammock? Tune in next time to find out!

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    1. That is very possible. Yeah her feeling guilty about Chloe’s death is definitely the main reason she’s not told Morgyn or her parents – she’s been brought up with this continued reinforcement of the idea that she’s the best thing since sliced bread so falling off that pedestal in their eyes is terrifying to her.

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  6. Oof, Hawthorne really isn’t able to deal with big emotions, isn’t she? She’s running away from the things that haunt her just like Morgyn and Cordelia do. I really can’t blame her because she’s a teenager and teenagers make hasty decisions, and also because guilt over someone dying is very real, but man, this cannot go well. Throwing yourself into being a spellcaster just to forget about the rest of the world. Even with Morgyn and L Faba doing whatever they like most of the time, magic really isn’t a toy to play around with in order to forget yourself. That’s how things end up dead. Or on fire. Or disintegrating. Or falling apart. Or all of those combined.

    Wait, did Alba drink her fill, and then toss Chloe into the river when she was unconscious but still alive? Dear gods, that is a cruel end. Poor girl.

    Morgyn actually earns a point here by realizing something is wrong and not immediately running with her sudden decision to become his official heir. Granted it’s not hard to guess that something happened, but Morgyn has always been more about playing people to get what they want, rather than genuinely care about what upsets them. They really care about Hawthorne. Fine. They get one point. ONE. ONE POINT, MORGYN. 🤣
    Ouch, I think I understand Morgyn’s reaction to her little phoenix comparison. A fresh start like a phoenix means something was bad enough to burn you to ashes first. They’re protective enough of her to never want her to go through like something like that. I wonder if Morgyn thinks Hawthorne actually killed someone, and is linking that to what happened to them as a child.

    Aw man, I’m worried about the eventual conversation that Hawthorne will have with her parents. “someone is dead because of me” sounds like such an easy thing to misunderstand for “I killed someone”, and Micah has already been worried about her drinking habits before. Part of me is hoping that the three of them can have a calm conversation where Hawthorne can explain that no, she didn’t drain anyone dry, but… the other part of me is already grabbing popcorn and waiting for the explosion to happen.

    Ooooh, that’s a dilemma right there. What will Morgyn do to get what they want? Grovel to Faba? Try to persuade Darrel? Crash-course make Gemma practical magic sage instead? Get that voodoo doll to make either of them do as they say for a bit, like Faba did with Simeon back in the day? So many possibilities. I’m probably miles off with all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, she really isn’t – though how could she be when you look at her parental figures; Micah blames himself, Cordelia shuts down and Morgyn sets everything on fire and then shuts down. Whatever pick and mix she takes away from that is not going to be ideal 😅 That’s a grim prognosis you’ve got there. I’m pleased your expectations are suitably low 😀

      Last we have seen of Chloe when Alba was finished with her, she was dead, according to Alba – she even mentioned almost running out of blood before learning anything useful. So while it’s possible she was actually found in the river, she presumably did not actually drown. Yay?

      Morgyn does really care about Hawthorne, yes. Which reminds me of your original theory about why they wanted a child/an heir in all of its grim glory. And now I’m curious if it’s changed. We never did quite get an official explanation of why Morgyn was so set on having a child, after all.

      Yeah the phoenix thing would have hit close to home. When Morgyn gave Hawthorne her phoenix they very much presented it as doing it so that she could flex on other children and generally being flashy, since that’s what they do, but that was not quite the reason. We did see a teenage Morgyn desperate to reinvent themself and even renaming themself to go along with the whole “being reborn from the ashes” theme and that was version of themself they likely did not want to see in Hawthorne. Discovering the magic realm and getting magical training did change their life at that point, so it’s not exactly surprising they reponded the way they did here.

      Oh yes, if Hawthorne and her parents are to have that conversation in the future, wording would definitely be vital. How would Micah react if he thought she killed someone by draining them? Could definitely go many different ways. Then again, she might just never tell him.

      A crash course for Gemma is some out of the box thinking! Though Morgyn’s actually referred to her as a more skilled spellcaster than Darrel and she has been seen mastering some spells only sages can normally achieve, so perhaps no crash course would be needed! Then again, there is the small matter that Morgyn hates her even more than they hate Darrel, so I’m not sure if she’d be their choice, haha.

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