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fic: 31 Soho Square

Title: 31 Soho Square
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 416
Summary: 31 Soho Square doesn't look like a magician's house any more.
A/N: written for [personal profile] etave's birthday and inspired by this post of hers on tumblr.




31 Soho Square doesn't look like a magician's house any more. The people who used to live there, Jonathan and Arabella and Mary, would not recognize these rooms full of hard white light, or the dull silver picture-frames, their contents forever shifting, on all the tables. Most of the pictures don't look worth stealing, though the frames are tied to the wall by smooth white ropes, like books in a chained library.

You would not guess this was a house of dreams, and yet it is, giving out a different kind of magic from the one that used to shimmer inside its walls. Stories spinning through the air to touch the minds of millions on screens no longer made of sheeting or canvas; a magic-lantern show for the twenty-first century, though the nameplate by the door harks back to the twentieth.

It is a practical affair, this modern magic, as unromantic to the view as the figure Jonathan summoned with his first spell, the man who looked for all the world like a banker in his counting-house. There are plenty of men here with their mind on accounts; women too, though not so many. Arabella would have a few sharp things to say about how much remains unchanged in the condition of her sex.

The newest of the women, still in her first month, is working late tonight. It's quiet in the office; everyone's left for the day, but she needs to finish these figures for tomorrow's meeting. It's been a long day, and she's half-drowsing over her keyboard when a noise jerks her awake.

A rush of footsteps in the hall, and a woman's voice crying out in astonishment, in joy.

That's not possible: she must have dreamt it, or else it's outside in the street. If she's awake and imagining things, the job is taking more out of her than she thought.

It could be burglars. It doesn't sound like burglars.

She gets up from her desk and goes to the door to confront whatever it is, but stops with her hand on the doorknob, listening.

A murmur of voices, too soft for her to catch more than the tone, and laughter - a man's and then the woman's again, low and breathless, shockingly intimate.

Whatever is out there - and it is out there, and not in the street or in her head - it's private. She puts Nina Simone on her headphones, turns up the volume and goes back to her screen full of figures.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/200063.html with comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
brumeier
Jan. 19th, 2016 03:46 am (UTC)
Wow, I love how that post inspired you! I love that Strange and Arabella are still there in the house, and happy together. I just love it!
fengirl88
Jan. 21st, 2016 09:30 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *beams* I'm so glad you liked it. <3
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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