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Chapter 26: A Choice to Leave Everything You Know For Love
gorgeous chapter image by annihilation @ TDA
“You’ve a place in my heart no one else ever could have.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dominique didn't know how long she sat on the floor of her bathroom for, crying. She had so many mixed emotions about what she had discovered. That she was pregnant with Ignotus Peverell's child. She was scared, that much was for sure. She was only twenty-years-old; she was young and unmarried. She didn't know the first thing about children either, but most importantly she now faced the fact that her child would be fatherless. She had abandoned Ignotus in 1234, and she didn't know if she could ever go back even if she tried.
Apart from being terrified and unready, she felt as if she were mostly happy, though. She had lost so much, and she didn't care how weak or selfish it all sounded, but no one in 2022 had ever made her truly feel at home, truly feel loved. She had never had anyone or anything in 2022 that was truly hers, her own special solace from the world. In 1234, she thought she had found that. She had found her solace, her love, and her happiness in Ignotus.
Now that she had left him due to his lies, she had lost that happiness. Sure, she truly knew now that her family loved her and always would, but there would always be a hole in her heart from leaving Ignotus behind in 1234. Perhaps her child, a part of Ignotus, would be enough to fill that hole in her heart.
She thought it would. Nothing could ever be enough to replace Ignotus, but his child would be a start, and she would love that baby more than anything in the world.
Yes, she decided. This was a good thing. She would be happy, and she wouldn't give a care in the world what anyone else in her family thought. She would endure the questions of who the father was and where was he, and she would never answer them. But her baby would be worth it.
She managed a smile, feeling her tears seep between her lips as she did so. She could taste the salt on them, and she rubbed her belly affectionately as if she could reassure her baby that she would love and care for the child always.
She was lost in her thoughts when she heard footsteps coming from somewhere in her flat. She scrambled about, quickly trying to rise to her feet and hide the muggle pregnancy test.
"Dom?" a voice called, and she immediately knew it was her uncle Harry. "Dominique? Dom, are you there?"
Frantically, she stood, stepping on her bridesmaid's dress slightly and snagging it, but she didn't care. Wiping her cheeks with her palms, she then scurried to the counter and snatched the pregnancy test. But she was all too late. Harry was soon standing in the doorway of her bathroom, his hands on either side of the door. He opened his mouth to speak, but as soon as he spotted the object in Dominique's hands, he froze and gaped in shock.
"Dom..." Harry muttered in surprise. "Oh, Dominique..."
She tried to decipher what Harry's voice was full of other than shock. It was very clear that he was surprised beyond belief; his bewilderment was etched into his face and his words, but his eyes. What was that they were full of? What was that in his voice? Finally she knew it was pity.
He pitied her.
Why?! Dominique didn't want his pity.
"U-Uncle Harry..." she gasped, shaking her head and hiding the test behind her back as if that would forever erase the sight of it from Harry's mind.
"Oh, Dominique," moaned Harry again and he stepped forward and took her into his arms. She didn't know why he did so; perhaps he could tell that she had been crying, perhaps he thought she was distraught over her current state.
She thought she had been done crying, though, that all her tears had left her. However, as soon as Harry's loving and protective arms went around her, she felt them come rushing back to her. She choked on her cries and sobbed against the jacket of Harry's black suit.
"Let me help you," he encouraged, stroking her hair as he held her. "Tell me what happened while you were away. Who did this to you? Did they hurt you? Did they..."
Dominique knew what he wanted to ask next, but even Harry couldn't bring himself to say it. She shook her head in protest. She didn't want her uncle thinking that about her. He was getting the wrong impression, and that wasn't how it had happened at all.
"No one hurt me, Uncle Harry," said Dominique quickly and honestly.
"I don't understand. You - "
"No one hurt me," she said again. "No one did this to me. You're getting it all wrong. I...I loved him."
Harry recoiled from her in surprise, enough to hold her at arm’s length and appraise her look to see if her words had been true. His eyes watched her carefully, as if he didn't believe her, so she continued to go on. "I loved him," she cried. "I loved him so much."
"Dominique," Harry encouraged, his voice soft and gentle. He cupped her face in his hands and dried her tears with his thumbs. "Please tell me what you endured while you were away. Please. I know you may want to keep it to yourself, and I'm sure you have your reasons, but please. I can't help you if you don't let me in. No one can."
Listening to his words in that moment, Dominique wanted to tell him more than ever. He was so kind and gentle, so encouraging, and his eyes were so soft and loving that she believed he would listen and believe any word she said. He was so much like a second father to her; he was so much more than an uncle. In fact, she would consider him her friend, her confidant. Her uncle Harry was the only one who ever believed in her. She knew that was why she had been given such an important mission before she had disappeared. He trusted her; he understood her in a way no one else did.
Maybe she really could tell him. Maybe she could share. Maybe she could finally open up to him. If anyone would listen, it would be Harry.
She found herself nodding before she could change her mind. "O-Okay," she hiccupped.
Even Harry seemed surprised by her answer. He nodded and took her hand, leading her away from the bathroom. He guided her to her bed where Dominique gracefully sat down, folding her hands in her lap and looking to them. Sniffing, she tried to decide how she would describe her disappearance to him. Harry set himself beside her on her bed and waited patiently for her to begin.
And she did. It was difficult at first, to go all the way back to the beginning, six months ago. But once she began to speak, the words tumbled freely out of her mouth. She told him everything. She told him of how she had been sent to the year 1234 by a mixture of her blood, Veritaserum, and a snag in the cloak. She thought her uncle would be upset that she had minorly torn the cloak, but Harry remained quiet and expressionless. She told him of how Ignotus Peverell was the first man she met in that year, and she told him how she had been present to see the events of the Tale of the Three Brothers unfold. She told him of Cadmus, Tyrion, Jocosa, and Eirene. She told him of Edmund and Callum, how she had been engaged to him while she had been falling in love with Ignotus all the while. She spoke of Callum's death. She spoke of how she had loved it in 1234, how she had felt at home and loved in a way which she never had here. And then finally, she spoke of how she and Ignotus had finally come together and shared their love until she learned of his betrothal to another.
When she had nothing more to say, she sat in silence, watching her uncle for some sort of response. He sat still, only blinking, his expression blank. Finally he sucked in a deep breath and spoke. "You were sent to 1234?"
Out of all the things he could have possibly said, she had not expected that. Blinking, she answered him. "Yes?"
"And you fell in love with Ignotus Peverell? My ancestor?"
"Yes," she admitted, hoping he didn't find the thought of it as awkward as he made it sound. She hadn't thought of it that way; how she loved a man who was the ancestor of her uncle. She and Harry weren't truly related, though. They were only related by marriage. Still, it was strange.
“So, this is Ignotus Peverell’s child you’re carrying…?” asked Harry again, as if he had to hear it three times to get it right in his head.
Dominique flushed crimson. “Yes.” Then she slowly asked. “You believe me?”
It took Harry a moment, but he nodded nonetheless. "Yes, of course I believe you."
"And you felt at home there? Loved? Special?" asked Harry. This time he took her hand and gave it a squeeze.
She hoped he didn't take it personally when she nodded. "Yes. I was special there. I was important, and I was so loved."
"Then, Dom," he said with a small smile, "I only have one question. Why in the world did you come back?"
She looked at him in bewilderment. She felt her mouth fall open. Had he really asked that? She wished to understand his thought process on the matter. When she said nothing, only blinking at him in continued surprise, he reasoned for himself. "I only mean that you never felt at home here. I know that much. I could always see it in you, how little life you had, how little to nothing excited you. Listening to you speak just now, about all these things in 1234, that was the most passion I have ever seen from you. Just from listening to you, I can tell that you were happy there. And today at the wedding. I watched you more than I watched Victoire. There was something different about you during the ceremony; others may have been blind but I saw it. We all knew you were recovering, but the ceremony...it seemed to send you back to your broken state. I could see it: the pain in your eyes, how sad you were. I knew something was amiss then."
She nodded. "I was. I was so happy there, and I was getting better. I was recovering. I thought I had, but you're right. The wedding today...It tore my heart in two again just after I had stitched it back together. Seeing Vic and Teddy get married, it only reminded me of what Ignotus and I had."
"And he loved you?" asked Harry. "He loved you as much as you loved him?"
"I hope so," she admitted when she knew better. Of course he loved her as much as she loved him. "Yes, I know he did."
"Then why did you come back?" asked Harry. "If you were so happy and so loved?"
"Because," she began, finding her words forming themselves before she even thought hard on the answer to the question. "We went through so much to get to where we were. He was always trying to be a gentleman and be noble and respectful, and then Callum proposed and I was engaged. When he died, we sought solace in one another. Then his mother was the issue. Being her only child still living, he didn't want to disappoint her by not marrying someone of noble blood. There was always something in the way, and then finally...one day he just seemed to move past all that. It just disappeared from him. He came to my chambers and said he would be with me no matter what it took. I thought he meant it; I thought he really would do whatever it took. I thought he would tell his mother about me, I thought he would marry me despite what anyone would think. I thought he would do all those things, and then I found out he was betrothed to another. And he had been since the very beginning. I thought that the love we shared would be enough for him to end any betrothal he didn't want, and I thought the love we shared was strong enough that he would tell his mother about us without delay. He did neither of those things, and that...I didn't need that. You know me better than most, Uncle Harry. You know I'm fragile, and you know I feel so out of place here. So when I thought I had finally found a home with Ignotus, he stripped that from me by lying to me, by not proving his love to me. Instead, he showed me that our love meant nothing to him..."
"Oh, Dominique," moaned Harry again, this time in true pity. "I'm sure your love doesn't mean nothing to him. It has to mean something to him. Just because he didn't prove it in a timely manner doesn't mean he doesn't care at all. And, Merlin, I can't believe how different 1234 must be to 2022. You may have grown accustomed to their ways, but I'm sure you will never truly think in the way a person from 1234 would. So how can you know? How can you know he wasn't planning on doing something about it?"
"Even if he was, he lied to me, Uncle Harry! For months!" she cried out.
"That may be," said Harry slowly, "but..." He faltered. He didn't know what to say after that. "I can tell you truly loved Ignotus. Was it really worth it to leave him?"
Dominique fell into a careful silence. She ringed her hands together in her lap.
"No," she said, the words falling out of her mouth. She hadn't thought much about her decision to leave 1234. She hadn't thought back on why she had done it or what had made her do it, for fear of her thoughts leading to regret, and now, as soon as she opened her mind up to why she had left 1234, she felt just that. Regret flooded her instantly. "It wasn't worth it. I regret it. I think I have regretted it every day."
Harry smiled, tears in his eyes. "Then what are you waiting for?"
She looked at him again in surprise. "But..."
"But what?" chuckled Harry. He turned so he could better face her, and he took both her hands into his own. He squeezed them reassuringly. "Dominique, I know I'm going to sound like a blubbering, rambling idiot right about now, but hear me out. I've never heard you speak so passionately about anyone, so I can tell you truly love Ignotus. Love like that only comes around once in a lifetime, if that. I think that, if you don't go back to him, you'll regret it for the rest of your life. People make mistakes when they're in love, and I think it's safe to say that Ignotus made one by not telling you, but so did you by leaving him. I've made mistakes myself. I broke up with your aunt Ginny when I was sixteen because I wanted to protect. I thought I was being noble, I thought I would make her safe by being away from her. Truth be told, she being my girlfriend or not didn't change a single aspect about her safety. Instead, I only wasted that year of my life apart from her. I spent only a year apart from her, and while I never showed it, it killed me. A year apart was misery; I cannot imagine how you will feel if you go on that way for the rest of your life..."
Dominique listened carefully to her uncle's words, what he was trying to convince her to do. He wanted her to go. To go back to 1234 and back to Ignotus.
How could she though? She was lucky enough that mixing her blood with the Veritaserum and snagging the cloak again brought her back home; what were the chances that it could happen again to take her to 1234? What if it didn't work?
Even if it did, though, and she found Ignotus, what would he do? Would he already be married to Brigid? Would he have forgotten about her, abandoned his love for her, and moved on with his life with Brigid? The thought made her sick to her stomach. Even if she went back, she wouldn't be guaranteed a life with him.
"But, Uncle Harry..." she moaned, voicing her thoughts. "What if I can't even go back? Or what if he's already married Brigid?"
"Then he's made the biggest mistake of his life," said Harry sternly. "Don't give up hope simply because of the possibility that he's married another. What if he hasn't? What if he really did end the engagement? What if he's just sitting at home, waiting for you?"
The thought made Dominique's heart quicken. She felt her face flush. She wanted that to be true. She hadn't known it; she knew she missed Ignotus, but she didn't realize how desperately she wished for him to still love her, to be true to her even after she had abandoned him. How foolish she had been, how stupid. She wished she had never left him. She should have given him the time to explain and the time to act. Why had she done what she did?!
Well, that was a stupid question. She knew now why she did it. She knew exactly why. She blamed her pregnancy; it explained everything, her mood swings, her hormones, her rash actions.
She realized now that she never wanted to leave him.
"I-If he is waiting for me," swallowed Dominique, "then I will be the happiest girl in the world."
"Then isn't it worth it to go back and find out?"
Dominique smiled. She agreed. It was worth it. All of it. To go back, to find him again, even if it ended in heartbreak. At least she would know that he had moved on to Brigid if she went back instead of potentially living a life of dreaming about what could have been, regretting it forever. She had to go back to him.
"It is," she said excitedly. "It is worth it. Oh, Uncle Harry!"
She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. She had made her decision. She was going back to 1234. She had tears in her eyes when she pulled away, and she eagerly swiped at them. Then her smile quickly faded. "But my family! How can I leave them again? They were devastated while I was away...How could I do that to them?"
"They will understand," said Harry sweetly.
Dominique shook her head. "No, they won't. They'll throw me into the mad house."
Harry scolded her. "They won't, but you can tell them what you like."
She didn't know what she would tell her family. How could she tell them that she was willingly abandoning them? She muttered under her breath. "They'll never understand..."
"Then they don't have to."
"You won't tell them, will you, Uncle Harry?" she asked him, her eyes pleading.
"I won't say a word, if that's what you want."
"I think it's best..." she said quietly as she thought.
She didn't know what to do when it came to what her family would be told. It would be rude to leave without a word to them; she had seen how devastated and destroyed they became from her first disappearance. She couldn't do that to them again. They deserved better than that, and she couldn't be so cruel as to do that to them. If she were to tell them the truth though, she didn't know what her family would think. Would think feel guilty that they hadn't given her a life she had loved? That they hadn't given her everything that could if they knew that she was choosing to leave them forever for something better. Would they blame themselves? She didn't want them to bear any guilt. She couldn't hurt their feelings, for them to know that she was willingly leaving them forever, and she wanted them to know that she would be happy.
"All I want you to say is that I'm happy," said Dominique. She looked to her uncle hopefully. "If I don't come back again, just tell them I'm happy. Happier than I ever thought I could be in my life."
Harry nodded, and Dominique only then realized that he was crying. "I'll tell them," he swore. "When will you go?"
"Without delay," she answered, and she rose from her bed. "I've lived a month away from him. I don't want to go another second without him."
She smoothed down the skirts of her dress and straightened up, plastering a wide smile to her face. She couldn't believe how happy she was. She was going back to Ignotus. After a month of wallowing in sadness because she thought she would never see him again, she realized she would.
"There's only one thing left I have to do," she said.
"Say goodbye..." she said, feeling her happiness diminish at the thought of seeing her family one last time. "I'll go back to the reception. Just long enough to say my goodbyes, and then I'll go."
Harry nodded and gave her a smile. He had never seen her so happy. She seemed to be emitting a light Harry had never seen before. While it pained him to know she would be leaving and he would never see her again, he still couldn't help but feel happy for his niece. He was doing the right thing, despite the tear it made in his heart. "Is there anything I can do to prepare for you while you say goodbye?"
"I just need Veritaserum."
"I'll get it for you, and I'll be waiting here with it by the time you return."
Dominique ran to him again and hugged him about his waist. "Thank you so much, Uncle Harry."
"Of course, sweetheart," he sighed as he smoothed down her curls. He kissed the top of her head and watched her as she stepped out of his arms. He did his best to sear this moment onto his memory forever: her happy smile, her beaming expression, her cheeks flushed with life and love.
With that, Dominique apparated out of her flat and back to the reception.
The party was still going on as it had been when she left. She had hardly gone unnoticed. The music was still loud and elegant, and the dance floor was still crowded with all those in attendance. She knew her goodbyes would only be a goodbye of sorts. They wouldn't know this would be her goodbye; they wouldn't know this would be the last they saw of her. She only wanted them to remember her with a smile on her face and with a happy exchange between them. She weaved her way through the dance floor, seeking out each family member one by one. She started with her aunts and uncles, and then her cousins, each of whom she ran up to and gave a quick and tight hug before bolting away from them. With her cousins, she tried to keep it short and sweet. She had so many goodbyes to say; if she let all of them get to her, her sadness in leaving her family behind would hold her here forever. So she had to be quick.
She hugged the girls, all of whom looked at her in surprise, but giggled and hugged her in return. Then she hugged the boys; Fred stuck out his tongue as if she had cooties, but this only made Dominique grin. Albus jumped in surprise when she hugged him, and he patted her shoulder awkwardly, and then she hugged James. He laughed at her, but he picked her up and squeezed her tight, kissing her cheek. When he set her down, she ran for Louis. She snatched him from his dance with Roxanne and began to waltz with him herself. He was puzzled by her actions, but he moved swiftly and happily with her. When the song ended, she hugged him tight, and when she released him, she knew that would be the last she saw of her little brother.
Next she found her sister, who had been happily dancing with her new husband, but when Victoire spotted her, she stopped their dancing and turned to her sister.
"I thought you had left. I hadn't seen you in a while," said Victoire carefully.
Dominique shook her head. "No," she said quickly with a broad smile, and she lied. "I hadn't left. You look beautiful, Vic, and I love you very much."
"Thank you, Dom!" beamed Vic.
Dominique had tried to refrain from hugging her sister, for fear of wrinkling her wedding dress, but in that moment, Dominique didn't care. She flung her arms around her sister and held her tight. "I love you, Vic," she breathed.
Victoire gave a sigh against her and patted her back. "I love you too, sister."
Then she released her and hugged Teddy. She seemed to jump from person to person, not taking a moment to imagine how truly sad she was for leaving her family. She thought about Ignotus instead and thought about the happy life with him that would be waiting for her if he hadn't moved on to Brigid. Her goodbye to her mother slowed her down, and she could feel her sadness begin to peak through. She reminded her mother that she loved her very much and always would, despite the strange and curious look Fleur gave her.
Last was her father. She went to where he sat at the wedding table and she asked him for a dance. She happily obliged, and he led her to the dance floor. The song was slow and sweet. She stepped into her father's arms and let him hold her like he would when she was only a child. They moved swiftly and slowly, Dominique holding onto him with her head against his chest.
"Something's changed, Dom," Bill analyzed. "You're...happy."
"I know," she said, her voice sounding whimsical and truly delighted. "I'm very happy."
"I am so pleased to hear that," cooed Bill, and he kissed her head. He squeezed her tight and lovingly.
When the song ended, she almost wished for it to never end. She wanted to keep dancing with her father, to never let him go. She felt tears reach her eyes, but she couldn't cry. Not now. All of her happy goodbyes will have been for nothing if she let her father see her cry. She begged them to go away, and she willed herself to be strong. She squeezed him tight about the waist, burying her face into the jacket of his dress robes until the moment had passed.
"I love you, Daddy," she admitted, her voice muffled as she remained pressed against him.
"I love you too, Dom," he said kindly. "Always. Remember that."
"I'll always remember. Always," she said, and before she could change her mind and decide to remain in 2022, she stepped away from him.
Before he could see her face, she turned from him and disappeared into the crowd. Quickly she worked her way through it, until she was free of the busy crowd, and she apparated back to her flat. Harry was there and waiting for her just as he said he would be. He held the Veritaserum out to her, and she took it. She gathered a few of her things from her room. She grabbed her favorite gold dress, the crown of flowers Ignotus had made her, and Callum's ring. She also gathered up random things, her favorite books, photos of her family. She and Harry happily scoured her flat for any objects that Dominique could take with her to show Ignotus to fascinate him. She grabbed anything she thought would bewilder him, intrigue him, and she grabbed any family photos so she could show him her family.
When she had all her things, she shrank them and dropped them into a bag. She was ready. There was nothing more for her to do.
"I have to use the cloak to get back," she said. "I think the cloak is what made me go to 1234 in the first place, but I don't how you're supposed to get it back from me..."
Harry shook his head. He couldn't care less about the cloak, as long as Dominique did what she needed to. "Don't worry about the cloak. Take it with you."
She smiled. "Thank you. I'll try to find a way to get it back to you."
Harry didn't know how she would manage that, but he nodded.
Now it was time for her final goodbye. Her uncle. She embraced him one more time and breathed against him. "Thank you, Uncle Harry. So much. For everything."
"Of course. I couldn't let you make the mistake of living a life of regret. Just promise me one thing."
"Promise me Ignotus is a good man," said Harry with tears in his eyes. "Promise me he's good enough for you. Promise me he's a good man who will look after you and love you."
Dominique wiped away her tears at her uncle's words. She nodded, feeling her voice catch in her throat with her tears. "He's a good man, Uncle Harry," she said honestly and lovingly. "A great man. You're right; he only made a mistake by not telling me, one that he didn't mean to hurt me by, but he is a good man. As long as he hasn't gone to Brigid, he will look after me, and he will love me."
"Then go," whispered Harry as he released Dominique.
She smiled to Harry one last time. Then she took a knife to her hand. She made a small cut down her palm and watched the blood run free from her veins. She didn't even mind the pain. She opened the vial of Veritaserum and poured it along her flesh. Then she took her uncle's cloak and snagged it in the same place he had now been snagged two other times.
She was beyond pleased when the familiar mist returned. The last thing she saw was her uncle's loving smile as the mist curled around her and returned her to the place wher she had always belonged.