Chapter 7 : Caught In-Between
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After Rose had left, chalk-faced and desperately asking Dominique to promise to keep quiet, Dominique was left to the darkening room of the Hospital Wing, the two 4th year boys had drifted off to sleep hours earlier.
Dominique was sitting on top of her Hospital bed, her legs folded beneath her body, her chin propped up by her fist and finding her attention completely captivated by the fire once again.
What are you doing? She asked herself, thinking about her weak state and her newly repaired wrist, there is something contemptuously very wrong with this situation I’ve found myself in.
What had begun as an innocent pledge to lift her appearances had blown over into something much more sinister then that. Dominique could not understand why. She’d never been one to care about such useless things. Dominique hated it. She hated it as she sat there now on her hospital bed, in front of the glowering umber fire, but she knew deep inside that when she sat herself at the Great Hall tomorrow morning, all feeling of hate would fly out the door and each thought, feeling, minutes and seconds would be dedicated to one little moment of self doubt, resulting in the ultimate push away of her plate, a firm thought settling in her newly tangled, webbed mind that there was ‘no way’ she could feel the need to eat.
How far she had come blew Dominique away, she also wondered how much further she was about to lose herself in it.
She hated it, despised it, detested it. But couldn’t stop it. It was taking control. An angry, rearing dragon of years of pain, self doubt and hurt burning and growling within the bases of her soul, filling her insides with hot, smoldering anger and despise. In those moments, she’d do anything to change who she was. Anything to just disappear, fade away into the backdrop of everyday life.
“Oi, earth to Mini, are you alright?”
Dominique had to blink several times for her eyes to focus in on the two tall figures now obscuring her vision of the burning fire. James was bending down, eye level to her, his dark handsome face crumpled with his creased eyebrows and the down curve of the corners of his lips; his dark hazel eyes glinting with concern.
A small sigh escaped Dominique as her tired, worn eyes traveled to, and noted, the other presence. Lysander stood high and casually, however, as soon as her blue eyes met his own heavy-eyed amber, he ran a hand through his messy dirty blonde tress, his head tilting to the side slighted as he observed her devoid of emotion.
“Fine,” she mumbled tiredly, her eyes barely leaving Lysander’s face as it required too much effort on her behalf. A tiny, barely noticeable frown pulled at Lysander’s mouth as her words tumbled lazily out of her throat.
Dominique didn’t feel like bothering to ask why they were there, she could see the bundle of invisible cloak scrunched in her cousin’s hand.
“You don’t look fine to me,” Lysander alleged, “in fact you like shi- ”
“Not fine,” finished James hastily, throwing Lysander a look that clearly stated ‘not now’ but it was unlikely Lysander received it, he was continuously always off in his own little dreamy world. James straightened, still staring intently down at his cousin.
“You look a little nauseous; did you want us to call for Madame Clove?”
Dominique removed her chin from her hand, lifting her pale eyes up to meet James, she sat, “really, I’m fine,” mustering a little more energy into these words.
Truth be told, she did feel incredibly nauseous, but the last thing she wanted was to have Madame Clove bustling around the base of her bed again.
“You know what? I probably just need sleep. Thanks for visiting; I’ll see you around tomorrow.”
James looked unconvinced, “okay, but just, you know, call for Madame Clove if you’re unwell. That women is bloody amazing, she can fix any thing.”
Dominique heaved herself under her covers, feeling exposed and self conscious, her eyes flickering to Lysander as he made a short, sudden move as if to help her, but his face was expressionless as his dark eyes flashed quickly to the ebbing flames. She muttered darkly under her breath, “Not every thing I’m sure.”
She moved her attention to James, managing a smile “thanks for the concern.”
James waved it away, sensing the end of conversation and preparing to swing the cloak around himself and Lysander once again, “just looking out for my little cousin.”
He chuckled at the look on her face and disappeared completely into thin air as the cloak slid over him in one easy motion. Dominique let out a derisive snort, “need I remind you I am two weeks older then you?”
The only response she got was the Hospital Wing’s door gently clicking shut.
The next morning came quickly and Dominique felt less then well-rested. Madame Clove had sent her off to join the rest at the Great Hall for breakfast where she met a disgruntled looking Roxanne waiting for her.
She sat herself opposite, immediately regretting it as she took in her best friend’s fierce stance; she was sitting with her arms crossed violently, her dark eyes brusquely narrowed. “The Hospital Wing, hey? Broken wrist? Any thing to do with the fact that you haven’t been eating much?”
Dominique felt the wind knocked out of her. Blunt and straight to the point; Roxanne was a typical Weasley. “I – I,” stammered Dominique, feeling her heart beat race significantly, her cheeks unwillingly flushing.
Why did she get the sense that Lysander had some thing to do with this?
She cleared her throat and tried again, “I do eat,” she managed defensively.
Roxanne scoffed, shaking her head so that her dark tiny braids flew all over the place, “oh don’t give me that bull, Mini. Really I don’t care how much you eat – just the fact I haven’t seen you crack a single smile in weeks!”
Dominique was speechless.
“And you may have lost a bit of weight,” mumbled Roxanne lowly.
Dominique’s eyebrows furrowed, “have I?” she wondered aloud, glancing down as if to see that she was suddenly skinny. But she couldn’t see any difference. She looked the same every day with these huge black robes on. Every one in the entire school looked exactly the same. She shook her head slightly, attempting to come back to her senses, “I don’t know what you’re talking about Rox. I am the same as always.”
“No,” Roxanne growled angrily, her eyes practically burning into Dominique’s, “no. No you’re not the same. This isn’t my best friend.”
Dominique swallowed the lump forming in her throat, keeping her eyes trained on her plate, she lowered her voice, feeling her heart pound heavily in her chest, her voice was quick and urgent to convince, “seriously, Rox, I am okay.”
Roxanne shook her head once again, and Dominique grew even more uncomfortable, “I am not going to believe you until I see proof.”
Dominique’s chin was practically pressed against her chest, she felt revolted with herself and ashamed, “I am okay,” she mumbled, wanting nothing more then to be left alone and over looked. She felt caught between two sides; desperate to be away from the unwanted attention, but at the same time, sickeningly triumph that she may have lost weight. She felt disgusted with herself.
“You have lost weight,” said a voice further down the table, catching only part of the conversation, her voice was light but also full of grudge. “You look good.”
Dominique nervously looked up and caught the cinnamon gaze of Blanche Hammond, her pointed nose tipped into the air snottily, but there was a hint of admiration and the sickening, sinking feeling within Dominique’s gut tripled in size.
Dominique glanced across the table at Roxanne, who looked even more mad and astounded. She hacked at her meal furiously, giving sharp glares in Dominique’s general direction every so often. Fed up with this treatment, Dominique shoved her plate of food away, swung her satchel of her shoulder and stalked away, wanting nothing more then to turn back, pick up her plate and shove it all in both Roxanne and Blanche’s face.
She refrained, with difficulty, and instead made her way towards class.
Astronomy, Tranfiguration, Charms and Potions passed in a blur of words that only managed to strengthen the headache Dominique had had since breakfast.
And the way James Potter was shouting now, as they conjugated on the Quidditch pitch, his deep, carrying voice echoing furiously in her ears, was certainly not helping.
“Okay, Burrows, to the left please, the left! Oh for Merlin’s bloody sake, can you not hear a word I’m saying?? To the left! Uh huh, yep, and Edwards if you could kindly keep hold of the Quaffle for once that’d be fantastic…”
Dominique hovered on her broom as she watched Claudia fumble hurriedly with the ball, consequently drop it, and Keefe Sherwood swoop it up in one easy movement, before lunging forwards.
It only took a second, but usually Dominique was better then that, the Quaffle slipped through her hoops as swiftly and effortlessly as wizardly possible. A perfectly easy catch, but Dominique’s fingers hadn’t moved an itch; she was still suspended in the exact same spot. Furrowing her eyebrows, Dominique shook her head in disgust at herself.
She closed her eyes, mentally preparing herself for James’ blow, but it never came. In fact, when she peered down at him, he was staring worriedly up at her.
He’d been like this the entire Quidditch practice, giving her “special consideration”, at least that’s how it felt. In all her five years of being on the Quidditch pitch, he had never treated her like this. He was fierce and vicious when he was on the pitch, completely adjacent to his usual self. So why wasn't he yelling at her right now? Why had he instead ten minutes earlier asked her if she was 'alright to be on a broom'?
Some thing snapped within Dominique, a hot coil of infuriation. She was so tired of it all, so sick of being treated differently ever since she broke her wrist.
“Stop it! I’m not some delicate fool! So stop treating me like I’m ready to break. I can fly contrary to your beliefs!”
James looked stunned, his forehead crinkled and his mouth dropped slightly open, rendered speechless.
Some thing about her must have seemed off, as it was normal for Dominique to have a screech every now and then in relation to Quidditch, especially to the Captain, she was fierce and competitive about the sport. But some how, her team mates, could tell some thing was wrong.
Dominique had never stormed out on a Quidditch practice or match before, no matter how much she detested James or a fellow player in those heated moments. Yet here she was, flying steadily towards the ground.
“Mini – ”
“Don’t go –” Albus’ green eyes appeared brighter then ever.
“Are you okay??”
As soon as Dominique’s feet touched the soft, welcoming green grass, she ditched her broom and stalked off, headed for the lake, ignoring James’ distant cries of protest and the awkward mutterings from Keefe and Claudia.
Damn them all, damn them all to hell.
She hated the way every one insisted on treating her like a fragile doll, wary around her, but not understanding of it. Avoiding her like the plague, as if she was tainted, contaminated… possibly even contagious.
Lysander wasn’t a pile of nerves and concern like James was, or annoyed and frustrated like Roxanne had been, instead he was just his usual self, except, a touch more focused. Like when he was concentrated on his work in Potions.
He sat down beside her, she didn’t feel his gaze on her, which she greatly appreciated, she hated how stares and even the smallest of glances made her feel these days. She was incredibly vulnerable to them. A single look had the power to spur a whole arising of whirlwind emotions, cramming her mind, her body, her heart until she imply exploded. For such a simple thing, it had a powerful impact these days. These days when she constantly was in a state of weakness, poignantness and downheartedness.
She felt like she was teetering on the brink of sanity.
Lysander remained silent and serene, his dark stare gazing over the lake, they sat in silence, seeping over the cracks and corners, filling them with simple, sweet music of the world surrounding them, a distant hum of far away students, rhythmic ticking of the South Tower clock, a youthful shout, the arbitrary chirping of birds and alike in the forest. All noises Dominique generally overlooked in day to day life. She liked silence.
“You know, things don’t have to be this way. Change is possible.”
So stunned by Lysander's words that Dominique didn’t even feel the necessary need to scold him for breaking such beautiful silence.
He hadn’t bothered questioning it. Questioning just made her uneasy. He had just simply acknowledged he knew what was going on, no questions asked.
Dominique carefully glanced at him, taking in his full presence for the first time since he sat down. Hell, perhaps for the first time since she met him in first year.
He was leaning forward, his elbows resting gracefully on his knees, his arms smooth and muscular, golden from the sun. His long, slender fingers wrapped around his chin in thought, which was covered in slight, day-old stubble, highlighting the chiseled sculpture of his cheekbones, his nose lightly dusted in freckles – she’d never noticed before. His eyes were alert, a shade brighter than usual, but far off, his expression distant and pensive.
He subconsciously ruffled his unruly, disheveled long locks with his freehand, the action bringing her back to her senses. She’d ridiculed him for his dream-like qualities, he’s idealistic nature and lack of groundedness. But she found she was tired and worn out from ebbing realistic, serious, and tired of trying to be sensible. Tired of constantly competing against her sister. She wanted to disappear, dissolve into the shadows, be overlooked completely, not caught somewhere in between.
“It doesn’t have to be like this,” he spoke again, turning his head and meeting her eye. Something lurched and Dominique forced herself not to look away. Her mind was screaming at her to get up and walk away, but she didn’t. She was immobile, she felt helpless, weak and desperate for silent help.
“Things can be better, Dominique.”
Her name triggered the hot flash of anger within the core of her chest, burning the insides and making it difficult to breathe. She suddenly remembered who she was, who he was, and what he was talking about. She frowned, her eyes narrowing; a hot, boiling pale blue boring into his own cool, serene dark brown.
“How would you know?” she said, her voice indescribably low, but harsh and bitter against his previous cool, soothing tones. “You wouldn’t know anything, Scamander.”
She was angry, how he dare try to meddle in things he couldn’t understand, they weren’t even friends! Wasn’t James’ and Roxanne’s confrontations bad enough?
Lysander had no right.
His eyes darted away from hers quickly, skittering across the Hogwarts grounds to come to a rest on the Lake again. “I don’t pretend to know, Dominique,” he said, his voice quiet and almost disappointed. “But I do know that whatever what you like this, drove you to a point where you are so unhappy you have done this to yourself, can be changed. You can change it.”
Dominique couldn’t help the sharp intake of breath; the smoldering fire ebbed away a little. No one had ever considered her happiness. It was an eating disorder, most people thought she had. But no, in reality it was a mental problem.
You’re mental, Dominique told herself with a derisive laugh. But even her own biting voice inside her head couldn’t deflate what Lysander had said, managing to spark a set of gratitude and hope within, distinguishing the burning pain.
“You have no right,” Dominique spoke quietly, her voice distant and emotionless to their ears, she was speaking now but she didn’t know why she was saying these things, “no right, to assume you know what’s best for me. We’re not friends. I don’t even like you.”
And she had stood up, and bolted off. And ruined everything, no doubt.
This was a fairly intense chapter to write and I had no idea how to describe the various confrontations because obviously Dominique's unhappiness has to be acknowledged by her loved ones at some point. But, alas, admittedly I am one who avoids confrontation at all cost so I found it difficult to put myself in her shoes... eeek poor Mini! Let me know what you think, please! I would love to know!! :) Thanks for reading :)
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