Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
A/N: The conversation between Dom/Holden near the end of this chapter was inspired by Because I Said So, a really great and funny movie. (: So, I did not come up directly with the idea of how they’re discussing this.
Okay, here's chapter forty... major squee moment, guys. There is one chapter left of Ladylike. If anyone cries during the last chapter like I did while writing it, I understand; not because it's sad or anything, but because it's the last chapter! These last few chapters were written by an emotionally distressed author, I'm not gonna lie. I was sooooo excited/upset/happy/sad that Ladylike was finally coming to an end. I know, I know, I'm a sap.
And prepare yourselves, because my author's note is going to be super long next chapter. I'll be thanking those that have stuck with me for so long, not to mention giving you a sneak peak of Real Ladies, which you won't be seeing until August. And I'm not giving you guys a sneak peak of the next chapter, just to be evil. :)
All proper young ladies would never argue or have a private conversation during a public event or party.
Without a single word, I pull away from Lorcan Scamander, push myself up to my feet, and turn to face Holden. His mouth is hanging open slightly, his eyes are wide, and his body language screams “What the fuck!?” I cast a downward glance to Lorcan, who smiles weakly at me, before taking a few steps forward and reaching out for Holden’s hands. Surprisingly, he allows me to take them.
“Can we talk?” I ask, shocking myself.
To be honest, I don’t really want to talk, especially since I’m not sure if I want to face the realities that are necessary to be faced at this point. However, I guess my mouth knows better than my mind does, and I should be grateful. We need to discuss all of this- my mother, Lorcan, and ourselves. It can’t go ignored, no matter how much I’d prefer that.
Holden nods wordlessly, closing his mouth and allowing me to lead him away from the shoreline where Lorcan is still sitting. I pull him past the reception, despite the chilly December air that I’ve recently begun to notice, and I don’t stop walking until we’re in front of Shell Cottage. I sit down on the bottom step of the porch, once again not worried about soiling my dress, and Holden follows. Still, he has yet to speak.
“I overheard you and my mother,” I confess immediately after sitting down. Once again, my mouth shocks me. It’s almost as if my brain has no control over what I say. I could quite possibly fall asleep- mentally, anyway- and my mouth could keep talking for me. “I know what the two of you have been planning since the beginning. It was her choice, for you to ‘pursue’ me.”
“You were eavesdropping on us?” Holden sounds almost disgusted at first. “Dom, what have we told you about eavesdropping? You never learn the full story when you eavesdrop.”
I narrow my eyes. “What was the full story, then? Did I miss something important? Did you not only try to win me over because my mother requested it of you?” I grill him, angry that he’s going to try and scold me in a moment like this. “Tell me if any of those things are incorrect.”
Holden doesn’t respond.
“That’s what I thought,” I say coolly. “I think conspiring against a girl with her mother and making her think you genuinely fancied her from the very beginning is neck and neck with eavesdropping in the list of things not to do, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry, Dominique-”
“My name is Dom,” I interrupt shortly.
“I heard Lorcan call you Dominique,” Holden’s voice breaks over the name ‘Lorcan’, almost as if it hurts him to say it. It’s very possible that it does hurt him to say it. “And you didn’t say a single word to him about it.”
“He says it differently,” I want to tell Holden. “I know, when he says it, that he’s not using my full name against me, and he’s not thinking that I’m some proper lady I’m not.” I want to say those things, because I know they’re the truth, but I also don’t want to lash out at Holden like that.
Instead, I choose to go a different path. Probably not the best path, but whatever. Who even cares anymore? Surely not me. “That’s because you aren’t Lorcan.”
“I don’t see how that makes it okay, Dom,” Holden almost whines. “He’s Lorcan, so you let him get away with everything? He can call you Dominique. He can get kicked off the Quidditch team for our match against Slytherin. He can try to protect you. He can fucking snog you when you don’t even fancy him. Bloody fucking hell, he can do all of the things you would flip shit over me doing- things you did flip shit over me doing!”
“You are not Lorcan,” I tell him, although that’s not what he wishes to hear from me. “You aren’t Lorcan.”
“What are you saying, then? That he’s different?”
“Are you saying he isn’t?”
“Dom, what are you even getting at?” Holden throws his arms up in the air, frustrated with the conversation and where it’s headed. “You treat him differently, but I thought you were over him. You told me you were over-”
I almost jump to my feet, standing in front of Holden with my hands on my hips. “What are you talking about!?” I lash out, even though I didn’t plan on getting this angry this quickly. “I never told you I was over him. You never asked me. You assumed I was, but if you really understood me, you would-”
“Penelope understands you,” Holden retorts. “James does, and Fred! And something tells me they would be rather surprised to hear you aren’t over Lorcan fucking Scamander. You never told me.”
“I didn’t tell anyone!”
“Oh, so you admit it? You aren’t over him.”
I raise an eyebrow, my hands still on either hip. “I thought that fact had already been established. Seeing as you don’t need me to say things aloud anymore for them to be true, as assumptions power your field of knowledge.”
“Don’t be sarcastic with me, Dom,” he says, his voice a little softer now. “I haven’t done anything.”
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, don’t you even try that on me,” I shake my head in frustration. “You’ve done everything you shouldn’t do! You planned this, from the very beginning- don’t you get that? You planned my life out with my mother. You planned to make me fall for you, to convince me that I don’t need Lorcan in my life- all because my mother told you to! That alone should make me never speak to you again.”
Holden jumped to his feet now, reaching out to grab both of my arms and pull me closer to him. “I’m sorry, Dom,” he apologizes as sincerely as he can, all frustration and anger gone from his voice now. His golden brown eyes are locked on mine, pained and hurt and very apologetic, which is why I don’t try to move away from him. His eyes have always been able to get me. “Dom, I know it was stupid. I should’ve told you from the beginning what your mother had planned for you- but I didn’t want to lose you over something like that. You would’ve run as fast as you could to get away from me if I told you, ‘Oh, hi. I’m your mother’s choice for you, and I’m going to find a way to get you to fall for me.’ You would’ve been gone in an instant.”
“And what, you didn’t want to disappoint my mother by failing her?” I respond, still rather coolly. There is nothing Holden can say that will make this alright. Nothing will make up for this.
“No,” he disagrees immediately. “I didn’t want to lose my chance with you.”
“Why would it even matter?”
“What, Dom? Do you think I only ever cared about you because your mother wanted me to? Do you think you have nothing to do with it?”
“Dominique Fleur Rachelle Amalie Weasley,” he says in a rather patronizing tone, making me frown almost immediately. I hate my full name. “You are beautiful. You are hilarious. You have a magnetic personality. You are your own person, a magnificent person. You are an addicting human being, and even if your mother had never interfered in your life for a second, I would’ve fallen for you.”
Just as I said to Lorcan, I shake my head and respond, “How can I possibly believe that?”
“Don’t you trust me?” Holden stares into my eyes, as if trying to pry out an answer from them. “Don’t you believe that the feelings I have for you are real? Do you really think I’ve been lying from day one?”
I pull my hands from his grasp and cover my face. “I don’t know what to think about this, Holden.”
“Dom, I love you,” Holden confesses easily, his hands going to my waist now. “I love you, and I love everything about you. You’re everything to me, don’t you know that? The way I feel about you couldn’t possibly be dictated by anyone else- it couldn’t be forced by anyone else. I would’ve fallen in love with you even if I grew up a million kilometers away from you and only met you once.”
“I know,” I say, my voice shaky now.
I believe him. I know he loves me. I’ve known that since the very beginning. Never once have I doubted that Holden Wood actually cares about me. He tells me that every single day, in some shape or form. It’s in the way he looks at me, the way he holds me in his arms, the way he treats me like I’m a piece of treasure or a dainty porcelain doll. He loves me. I know that to be true, and that should be enough for me. That should be enough that it doesn’t change the way we are, change our relationship with each other, and change the way I feel about him.
Holden has been good to me, always. He’s taken care of me, he’s been sweet, he’s said all of the boyfriend-like things that he’s supposed to say. I see fireworks when I kiss him, and I get those bloody butterflies in my stomach whenever he touches me. We’re good for each other, but not in the way we’re supposed to be. We don’t complete each other perfectly. In order to become the picture-perfect couple everyone is so jealous of now, I had to change. As I said before, I’m not the same Dom anymore. I’m a different person. Not too drastically, but enough. He’s changed me, and while I was okay with that at first, I don’t think I am anymore.
It’s almost as if he’s a key and I’m a lock; he’s a key that doesn’t quite fit but does an acceptable job with a bit of added force and a little jiggling. However, the lock itself is altered with the use of that key. It doesn’t work as well. It’s not as stable, and it’s not the same. A lock can only have one key to fit it perfectly. No other key, no matter how close it is to being right, will ever work the way it’s supposed to.
However, no matter how much I know Holden does care, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s been lying to me. That’s the extra force he needed in order to unlock me, you know? He needed my mother to request this of him, in order to bother from the very beginning. Whether or not he’s fallen for me and I actually care about him, he’s not the perfect fit; the perfect fit would never lie to me. Not for one day has he told me the truth about why he attack-snogged me, all those months ago, outside his dormitory with Lorcan Scamander only a few meters away. He never told me.
“If you know that I love you, how can you even be angry with me?”
“Because you and my mother have been scheming since day one! You’ve been planning this. You planned for me to fall for you, you planned to change my entire life, and it wasn’t even your choice. My mother… my mother caused all of this.”
Holden looks confused now. “We care about each other. I’m good for you. The truth is-”
“The truth?” I repeat, raising my eyebrows and backing away from him. “The truth? Where is this truth you speak of, because it surely isn’t here. I’ve been lying to you, and you’ve been lying to me. There isn’t any truth anymore, Holden! There never was.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t change anything.”
“How does that not change everything?”
“Because you’re here!” Holden looks at me, amazed that I’m even having to ask this question. “You’re here with me. You chose me, you picked me. Why does the reason we’re together in the first place even matter?”
I shake my head, looking down at the ground. “I’m sorry, Holden. I’m sorry. But it matters.”
“Dom, don’t you care about me?”
I nod my head slowly, because I do. I truly do. He’s a good, sweet, kind bloke. He’s loving and gentle. He’s all of the things any girl in her right mind would desire. He’s absolutely gorgeous. He’s a brilliant Quidditch player. He’s intelligent, and he’s a prefect. He makes me laugh, and when he kisses me, I see stars. We get along well. We argue without really getting angry with each other. My mother adores him, and my father thinks he’s an excellent bloke. He’s the perfect boy. We have a clichéd school-age romance. He’s everything I could ever want.
“If you do, you can let this go,” he pleads now, staring at me with those incredible brown eyes of his. “You can let this go, Dom. You can forgive me.”
“I do forgive you, Holden,” I admit.
Holden reaches for my hands again, smiling weakly, and when I back up for the third time, he looks incredibly concerned and his smile disappears. “If you care about me, if you forgive me, why do you keep backing up? Why are you looking at me like that?”
As I try to formulate an answer, the only thing that comes to mind is a yellow tulip. Just like all of the other moments in the past few months, when I thought there was no way I could think of Lorcan Scamander at a time like that, I’m thinking about him. I’m thinking about the two of us, so very young, as he transforms a little weed into a beautiful yellow tulip, using nothing but his uncontrollable childhood magic and his emotions. A strange little smile forms on my lips, and I shake my head at Holden.
“I’m sorry, Holden. I really am, but you’re always going to be my mother’s choice. And he’s always going to be my choice,” I tell him truthfully, and he frowns, hating to hear those words. With that, I lean forward to kiss my now ex-boyfriend on the cheek, and he doesn’t make any move to respond. “If it wasn’t for him, I would fall in love with you, no matter what my mother has done. But he’s here, and he always has been, and he’s always going to be my choice in the end. I’m sorry.”
Holden nods his head as I begin to inch away from him again, this time moving in the direction of my front door. He looks hurt- incredibly hurt- but he also seems to understand. “He’s a lucky bloke, Dominique,” he tells me truthfully, holding his hand up as if he’s preparing to wave goodbye to me.
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