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The Worst by adluvshp
Chapter 3: Reflecting and Brooding
A/N (25 May 2013): I have made some changes regarding the 'apparition' in Chapter One, so I suggest re-reading it before reading this chapter, if you read the unedited version.
Awesome chapter image by Lady Asphodel @ TDA
Dominique stared at the blank wall in front of her silently, perched on the edge of her handsome black couch. Three days had passed since she had woken up in St. Mungo’s to discover that she was a werewolf, and though the hysteria had passed, her agony still remained unchanged.
Her eyes had shed all the tears they could but had been unable to reduce the pain in her heart. As she allowed her gaze to wander around her living room, a sigh escaped her. Various photographs decorated her walls – she was a fanatic when it came to photography – and she couldn’t help but reflect on how drastically her life would change now. Everyone assured her that it didn’t make a difference but she knew better. She had researched quite a lot about werewolves before leaving for Cannock Chase forest to gather information for her article, and now, every bad thing she had read about came back to haunt her. Werewolves weren’t treated very well by the society, at least not in the past, and she didn’t have much hope for the present either.
As another round of hysteria threatened to overcome her composure, her glance flitted to her favorite photograph on the mantelpiece. She and Teddy stood arm in arm, waving at the camera with big grins on their faces, and then she reached up on her toes to ruffle his hair that changed from bright yellow to bright red immediately. She watched the moment play in her front of her eyes again and again; reminding her of the fateful day the photograph had been taken on.
“Teddy, you don’t understand. We can’t be together. You are my sister’s ex for merlin’s sake! What would she think?” Dominique shook her head, throwing up her hands in the air in exasperation. Teddy frowned. Oh, how cute he looked with that frown on his face. She just wanted to kiss him then and there, and yet she stopped herself.
“Dom, it’s you who needs to understand! Victoire and I have moved on from each other ages ago. It's been six years! And I am sure Victoire is perfectly happy with Ian now.”
“Yeah I know, but Victoire dating Ian doesn’t mean that things won’t get awkward between all of us if you and I begin dating!”
“Dominique, if Vic and I can still retain our friendship after our break up without any awkwardness, then I am sure she won’t have a problem with us. I know it took us some time to get past it, but we got there. We’ll manage this time too. Now, I am just beginning to think that it is you who has a problem with me,”
“Oh Teddy, you know I don’t have a problem you. How can I? I do want you, but I just… I am scared of ruining my relationship with my sister.”
“You don’t have a reason to, Dom,” Victoire’s tinkling voice reached her ears and she and Teddy both turned around to find her standing on the door, her arm linked around her boyfriend’s.
Her elder sister gave her a dazzling smile as she stepped inside.
“I have heard just enough to know what is going on… though of course Aunt Ginny may have hinted at it too,” she said with a wink, and Dom blushed. She and Teddy had somehow grown closer over the past four years, since the day she had left Hogwarts and moved in a flat quite near to Teddy’s. Apparently, this hadn’t gone unnoticed by many of her aunts and cousins.
“Dominique, you really are worrying unnecessarily. I have no problem with you and Teddy being together. Teddy is a great guy and I am sure you’re going to be happy with him – in fact, now that I think about it, you were always much better suited to him than I was,” she laughed before continuing, “Teddy and I are history. We were never really serious. Ian, on the other hand, is perfect for me, and I love him to bits. As for awkwardness, really, since when did the word ‘awkward’ come between sisters?”
Teddy visibly relaxed and flashed a grin at her and before turning to Dom.
“See Dom, everything is alright. I told you Vic wouldn’t mind.”
Dominique stared at her sister and her boyfriend for a moment, noting the way the two seemed absolutely smitten with each other before nodding.
“Thank you, Vic. Your words mean a lot to me. I couldn’t have asked for a better sister,” she stepped forward and engulfed the elder Weasley in a hug who returned it gladly. Then, she turned to Teddy who smiled at her sheepishly.
“So, are you going to accept to be my girlfriend now?”
She giggled before planting a chaste kiss on her lips.
“Now, don’t these two lovebirds deserve a picture?” Ian took out a wizard camera he always carried with him, his grey eyes sparkling with warmth as Victoire skipped to his side again, and signaled Teddy and Dominique to strike a pose.
The red-haired witch smiled at the memory. Teddy loved her so much, and she him. It made her feel awful to think about the cutting words she had said to him the other day. Was the monster in her already taking control of her soul?
Before she could reflect on this horrifying thought further, the sound of approaching footsteps reached her ears and she groaned. After she had been discharged and allowed to move back into her home, a stream of people kept coming to visit her every few hours or so. She had barely talked to anyone, yet they all insisted on lecturing her upon how everything was going to be fine and that she need not worry. Now, as she heard the door creak open, she braced herself for another onslaught of empty words and false comfort.
“Dominique, oh honey, I am so very sorry to hear what happened!” A flustered thick female voice reached her ears and she looked up in surprise. It was her Editor.
Delilah Jones rushed to one of her favorite journalists’ side and embraced her in a tight hug when the latter stood up to greet her. She fussed over Dominique’s appearance, muttering how the horrible had happened, and shaking her head sadly all the while.
“I am fine, Ms. Jones,” the haggard Weasley murmured.
The older woman’s strikingly green eyes widened and she flipped her long blonde hair behind shaking her head.
“No, no, my dear. I can clearly see you’re not fine. Come now, let’s sit down and talk things out.”
Dominique nodded and sat beside the editor of the Daily Prophet on her couch. She had some things to talk about too after all.
“How is the Prophet doing, Ms. Jones? I apologize for not being able to come to work these past few days,” she said, blushing slightly. She loved her job – her work was her passion – and she felt ashamed for compromising on her responsibility. However, she did not have the courage to go back to her bureau and face her colleagues. She was afraid of how everyone would react and act around her. She didn’t even know what she would say, or if she was even ready to get back into her usual routine.
“It is doing just fine, honey. We do miss you of course, and it’d be great if you could join us as soon as possible,” her boss told her with a sweet smile.
“You… you still want me then?” she asked hesitantly and her editor’s eyes widened.
“Of course we do, sweetheart. The Prophet could not run without you. In fact, what happened was partly due to us, since you were on an assignment after all, so we may just have to come up with a compensation for you. You just need to return to us immediately and we will work out all the logistics then.”
A wave of relief went through her before anxiety marred it again.
“I want to get back into things at the earliest too, Ms. Jones, but…” Dominique trailed off, unsure of how to voice her concerns. Her editor nodded understandingly.
“I can understand what you must be going through Dom, but I can assure you, you will be treated just the same by all the staff. As you know, the Ministry has been aiming to improve wizard-werewolf relations, which is why I assigned you on the werewolf article in the first place, and now that you’re one yourself, what better way to start on the agenda than through you! I mean, don’t get me wrong dear, it is surely sad that you have to endure so much pain every full moon, but look at the brighter side. You can now work on the werewolf article easily, and even give it a personalized touch. Maybe we could have a separate article on what a werewolf experiences and you could write it like a human-interest piece from your own point of view. There are many prospects indeed…”
Dominique was at a loss to what to say. Delilah Jones appeared to blatantly want to monetize the ‘condition’ of her senior journalist, and she didn’t know how she felt about it yet. On one hand, this could be the ticket to her long-awaited promotion, but on the other, she didn’t know if she had it in her to analyze her own state of mind right now and produce it into a newspaper article.
“Dominique? You were listening, weren’t you honey?” Dominique blushed and nodded. “Good. So, what do you think?”
“I-um…I don’t know, Ms. Jones,” she stuttered and cursed herself. How could she behave like this in front of her boss?
“You don’t know?” Ms. Jones asked her sharply and she blushed scarlet.
“I am sorry, Ms. Jones, but I think I need some time to think about it.”
“Hmm… alright. If time is what you need, I’ll give you 48 hours. Let me know what you decide by then. We’ll need to figure out a lot of things of course, so the sooner you make up your mind, the better.”
Delilah Jones had gone from the overly concerned sweet lady to a sharp professional superior in seconds, and this alarmed the young journalist.
“Thank you Ms. Jones. I hope you didn’t misunderstand me. I meant that I need time to think about the human-interest piece, but the other article I was working on – about the lifestyle of the werewolves that live away from civilization in packs – for which I went to Cannock Chase forest – I will definitely complete that one. I, er, may not be able to give it a…personalized touch though,” she tried to savage the situation, unsure whether she was doing it the right way or not. She watched her editor contemplate for a few moments before her stern expression relaxed into a more agreeable one.
“That is fair enough. I assume you managed to bring back all your interview notes with you even though you were…bitten?”
Dominique winced before nodding. She had been told that in the morning when the wolves had returned to their human form, they had owled Teddy (with apologies) who had taken her to Mungo’s and had then come back to collect her belongings. Currently, they were all scattered around her bedroom.
“That is a relief. I was almost afraid that your notes would have gotten lost in the hassle. You can get working on the piece now then; you know the deadline is day after tomorrow. I am afraid we can’t extend it despite the unfortunate turn of events as we already promised our readers a piece on werewolf lifestyle. A talented journalist such as you shouldn’t have a problem with it really. Oh, and do make the decision about the human-interest story by that time as well. I’ll be off now. Take care, sweetie.”
“Um, wait, Ms. Jones! Can I work on the article from home? I still don’t think I am fit enough to get back to the office. I’ll return to the office in two days to submit the article and also inform you of my decision then.”
The older woman scrutinized Dominique’s face before nodding. “Okay, that is fine by me.” With that, she walked out of the room and Dominique sighed with relief.
She had managed to handle the situation without too much damage. Her relief only lasted a few seconds though before her panic settled in. She had to wrap up the article in two days. She cursed herself for having lost a whole week of work, before frantically grabbing her wand and then summoning her important little notebook. It was time to get back to work.
After two long hours of reading, selecting, and writing, Dominique stretched and decided to take a short break. She could sense the beginning of a mild headache, and she padded towards her dresser in the bedroom to take her prescribed potion. The healers had warned her that over the course of the next few days, she might experience pain in various parts of her body, and though such occurrences had reduced greatly as days passed, they were not yet gone entirely.
The young redhead drank the recommended dose of the potion before her eyes flitted to her reflection in the mirror. She stared at the pale blue-eyed petite woman in front of her for a few seconds before cautiously picking up her wand. She slowly pointed it at her neck and muttered an incantation. As the anti-concealment charm did its work and the smooth skin of the side of her neck disappeared to reveal an ugly bite mark, an involuntary gasp escaped her lips.
She traced the tip of her wand across the scarred flesh and her vision blurred. Blinking back her tears, her thoughts once again drifted to Teddy. He loved to kiss her there; he had always said that her slender neck was beautiful. She wondered whether he’d still think so, or if her ugly mark would turn him away. After all, she wasn’t beautiful anymore – her body was tainted, and perhaps, sooner or later, her soul would be too.
Suddenly, she longed to be in the comfort of Teddy’s arms again. However, she had not seen him since three days. She had caused him so much hurt with her words in the hospital that she didn’t know whether she still had the right to miss him. He understood her better than anyone else though and appreciated her need for space, which was why he had not paid any visits; though he hadn’t been able to refrain himself from owling her twice a day.
Guilt washed through her as she realized she hadn’t responded to any of his owls. She kept putting it off, not knowing what to say or how to make amends for her cruel words, and so she knew it was only a matter of time before he showed up on her doorstep, anxious and tensed. Not mad though, he was never mad at her. In fact, he hardly lost his temper with anyone at all.
A loud “CRACK” startled her from her brooding thoughts and she turned around in alarm. It was as if her thoughts had summoned him. Teddy Lupin stood before her, and for the first time in ages, his lips weren’t wearing a smile on seeing her.
A/N: So, what do you think? Thoughts on Teddy? On the flashback? On Dom's boss? Any comments are appreciated. Thank you for reading and reviewing!