Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter, although I wish I did.
A/N: Oh, my god. It’s the final chapter of Ladylike. I’ve never finished a novel before, and this is my first one. I’m crying, screaming, screeching, every single obnoxious thing to express how unbelievably excited I am. And yet, I’m so sad, too. Ladylike has been forming piece by piece in my mind since March, and now, it’s completed. I didn’t think I could finish it, and I’m amazed that I did.
I couldn't stand to wait another minute before I posted this. It's Sunday, July 18th, at midnight, and Ladylike is finished.
Okay, skip this next bit if you only want to read the final chapter. (: I’m sure all 140+ favorite-ers of Ladylike will skip past this, except a few. Haha.
It’s safe to say that without my incredible readers, I would not have finished Ladylike. Ladylike has over 500 reviews and 140+ favorites, not to mention over 22,000 reads. It’s amazing that my story has gotten so much attention, with all the other amazing stories featured on HPFF. Here comes my sappy thanks and whatnot:
Courtney, my lovely slug and sister, thank you so much for reading and reviewing every chapter, except the ones you’ve missed since being at camp.
Hannah, thank you for sticking with my story and for requesting me to be your beta. Don’t forget to invite me to yours and Holden’s wedding.
Clea, thank you for being my first reviewer on Ladylike.
Magpie at the Dark Arts, who probably will never read this, thank you for the beautiful banner you made me so long ago. It’s the prettiest banner I’ve got, although I might be a bit biased as Ladylike is, of course, my favorite piece of writing.
Thank you, everyone who has ever read and/or reviewed Ladylike, and everyone on the story’s favorites list. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You guys are amazing, incredible, and every other overused adjective I can think of. (: I love you! Now, onto Ladylike.
“Goodbye, Dominique,” Holden says softly, waving goodbye.
I can see the pain obviously on his face, but that doesn’t make me regret the decision I’ve made. I don’t think anything could. I feel bad, of course. Guilt consumes me, but it doesn’t make me turn around. Holden is not my choice. He’s my mother’s choice. Lorcan is my choice.
Turning my back completely on Holden, I walk up the rickety wooden stairs to the front door of my home, pushing it open. It’s empty, of course, with its usual occupants currently attending the wedding reception in the garden, and that makes it all the better for me. The home is full of Maman’s aggravating womanly touches, which include an annoying collection of French antiques and portraits of her three perfect children waving at me as I walk down the short corridor that leads to the staircase.
I make my way up the stairs to my bedroom, which hasn’t changed a bit since I left for Hogwarts in September. My bed is still unmade, the gold throw pillows are still stacked on the ground at the foot of the bed, and the rejected clothes I didn’t want to bring along with me are piled up on the floor by my closet. This room holds very few good memories for me, but it comforts me right now nonetheless. I sit down on the floor next to my trunk. Aunt Ginny sent it along with me today, before the wedding, because it was part of Maman’s deal that I return to stay at my own home once the wedding was over. I haven’t been looking forward to returning, but I’m glad my trunk is here. I need something out of it.
Digging through the contents of my trunk, throwing aside prissy jumpers and frilly blouses. There, underneath the jeans with the Hungarian Horntail sketch and the collection of oversized jumpers I’ve stolen from James and Fred over the years, hides a rather thick, hardback piece of nonfiction, its blue color and gold letters staring condescendingly at me from its home at the very bottom of my trunk. I’ve grown to know this book quite well. I’ve memorized the scratches on its glossy cover from the abuse it has received from my belongings. I’ve traced the golden letters hundreds of times. I’ve dog-eared the pages countless times, I’ve tucked away gum wrappers in chapters that I spent the most time reading, I’ve left splotches of toothpaste on the occasional page when I read it in the morning before class. I’ve gone through the past few months with this book- a fact I don’t think I’ll ever admit to anyone.
I reach for it, pushing away the black cashmere jumper I stole from James last year, the one with a capital J embroidered on the upper left side in blue thread, to reveal the book in its entirety. I hate this book, more than anything. And yet, I’ve spent so much of my time picking through the pages, reading everything it holds.
Things All Proper Young Ladies Should Know. Things a girl like me is supposed to know. I’ve allowed myself to listen to this book, you know. I’ll admit it. I’ll also admit that I’ve read this book, from cover to cover. In the middle of the night, in the mornings, whenever I could be alone long enough to pull the book out and read a few more rules, I did. At first, I was trying to break them. And then, I was trying to follow them. Being with Holden, I felt the urge to follow these rules. I thought a girl on his arm should follow these rules. And before I met Holden, I thought a girl like me should break these rules. Either way, I’ve been letting this book define my life, whether I want to admit to anyone or not. When I wasn’t trying to break the rules, I was trying to follow them. I’ve been living my life because of a book, not because of what I want to do.
I rummage through my trunk a little more, pulling out a quill and a bottle of ink. Turning to the front of the book, I scribble there, on the blank page before all of the rules that attempt to tell people that being proper and prim is better than being real: All proper young ladies should do what they want to do, not what some bloody book says is the right thing. I blow on the ink, slam the book closed, and climb to my feet, bringing the heavy rulebook with me as I leave my bedroom.
Okay, how many times have I said in the past hour or so that I hate running? A lot? Yeah, I still hate it. But that doesn’t stop me. I left my shoes in my bedroom, so at least that’s not hindering me any further, and I run as best as I can down the stairs and out of my home, towards the wedding reception. I can think of a lot of people I need to see and speak to right at this moment: Penelope, James, Fred, and, of course, Lorcan, among others. However, the first person on my list is-
“Oh, zere you are, mon cherie!” Maman cries out, standing up from where she sits, surrounded by a few of her society friends- including Gwenog Jones and Cecilia Wood. “We were looking for you. Cecilia said you were looking for ‘Olden; deed you find ‘im, pet?”
I narrow my eyes at my mother. “I cannot believe you, Maman.”
“What are you talking about, Dominique?”
“Maman, my name is Dom,” I say forcefully.
I’ve never, not once in my entire life, stood up to my mother. I’ve let her criticize me, I’ve let her fuss at me for things she didn’t like about me, I’ve let her preach about being ladylike and proper in all situations, but I’ve never said a single word in return. I’ve let her call me Dominique, I’ve let her insult Lorcan Scamander, and I’ve let her control my life. No longer is this going to work for me. The time has come. I’ve been living all my life without her ever listening to me, and now it’s time to change that.
“My name is Dom, Maman. If you listened to me for one fucking second, you would understand that I hate being called Dominique. And if you listened to me for more than one second, you would know that Lorcan Scamander has been my best friend since I was tiny, and now I’ve fallen for him, and you can’t ruin that,” I tell Maman, whose mouth is slowly dropping more and more by the second.
Hopefully, no bugs come buzzing around anytime soon. If they do, my mother is going to get a mouthful. Her jaw is about to hit the ground. No one- and I mean no one- talks to her like I am right now. But that doesn’t stop me for one second.
“I don’t care how you feel about him. I don’t care if you think he’s no good for me. I disagree with that, and you know that. And I cannot believe you would think that you have any control over what happens in my life. I cannot believe you convinced a bloke in my year to ‘pursue’ me, just to get rid of Lorcan.”
“Dominique, I deed zose zings because I want to take care of you,” Maman protests somberly, a little taken aback that I’ve said all of those things to her. I should know better than to disrespect a French woman, especially one with Veela blood running through her veins, but apparently, I don’t. “I want you to be ‘appy, Dominique. You are my daughter, and you still need to be taken care of.”
“No, Maman, I don’t.”
“Maman, you and your meddling came quite close to ruining my life. You temporarily destroyed my relationship with Lorcan, you ended up hurting Holden, and you hurt me.”
My mother doesn’t respond. She bites her lip and looks down at the ground. The gesture is the closest thing to a white flag that my mother knows. “I love you, Dominique. You are my daughter. I only want ze best for you.”
I close my eyes for a few moments, letting out a deep breath. “Then you will let me make my own decisions, from here on out. You will stay out of my life. It’s not a game. You don’t make choices for me, and you don’t conspire against me to get your way. I refuse to be your pawn, Maman. I’m not Victoire, and I’m not Louis. I have a mind of my own, and I intend to use it.”
With that, I throw the rulebook down on the ground in front of my mother in the crisp grass, right in front of her expensive silver shoes. My mother stares down at the book, the book I received so long ago, as if she’s suddenly realizing that every effort she’s put forth to teach me the rules of being lady has been a complete and utter waste. Turning sharply on my heels, I leave my mother standing in shock, staring at me openmouthed, and the rest of her friends sitting behind her, silently worrying that their own daughters might one day rebel against them like I just did. And I hope to Merlin that one day, their daughters do rebel. Because no child deserves to be treated as a pawn. My life is not a game of wizard’s chess, and neither is anyone else’s.
“Being ladylike is overrated,” I announce, stepping onto the sand in my bare feet, which are starting to freeze in the brisk December air.
Kicking off my shoes when I was in my bedroom was not the best idea. Probably the worst idea, I think, second only to picking out short bridesmaid dresses, made with thin satin and without sleeves for a December wedding. Bad ideas run in the family, I suppose. I wish my dress had sleeves, at the very least. That would help a lot. But it doesn’t, thanks to that charm that surrounds the reception and wedding area; I’m guessing Victoire didn’t assume I would leave the protective bubble. She should’ve known better.
Lorcan turns sharply towards me, and he smiles, but doesn’t say a single word. (I wonder if he’s cold, too. He probably is. His dress robes don’t even hit the top of his mismatched socks- normal for Lorcan, of course- and I’m sure he’s shivering. I can’t tell, but he has to be. It’s fucking cold out here! That’s beside the point, I guess…)
“You know, I don’t want a life like my mother’s. I don’t want to live by the rules someone else makes for me. Nor do I want to spend the rest of my life with someone simply because my mother forced us together. I want to live my own life, with my own rules.”
He doesn’t say anything.
“Holden tried to convince me to stay with him. If it wasn’t for you, I might’ve. But you’re here, and I can’t lose you again. Not again.”
He still doesn’t respond, just watching me with a smile on his face. I can’t really read his eyes, and that’s bugging the fuck out of me. I can always read his eyes.
“I’ve never wanted to be ladylike, Lorcan,” I tell him truthfully, taking a few steps in his direction. “All I’ve ever wanted to be was yours, from the very beginning.”
Still, Lorcan doesn’t say a word.
“Lorcan, I love you.”
In just a few seconds, Lorcan is rushing forward, scooping me off of my feet and into his arms. Without any struggle whatsoever, I wrap my legs around his waist, pressing my lips against his for the second time that night. This kiss is not one that needed to be asked for; it is one that has been longed for by both of us for a very, very long time. It’s well overdue.
“I love you,” I murmur again when I pull my lips away from his. I don’t think I’ve ever kissed someone like this. Holden was a gentleman. Very proper, very gentle. This isn’t proper, this isn’t gentle; it’s perfect.
Lorcan presses his forehead against mine, smiling. “I love you too, Dominique,” he responds before he lifts his lips to kiss mine again.
As I kiss Lorcan, I can’t help but compare the feeling to the one I got whenever I kissed Holden. I compared Holden to a lock earlier, didn’t I? It makes even more sense now. Kissing Holden was exactly like that. He was the key that fit well enough, but not exactly right. When he kissed me, I saw the fireworks and felt the butterflies in my stomach, but it wasn’t a feeling of perfection. It wasn’t absolutely right. Then, kissing Lorcan is like a lock being opened by the key made especially for it; a key that doesn’t require any extra force to work perfectly, something that leaves no alterations behind.
Yes, I still have a psychotic roommate longing to get revenge on me and my closest friends. Yes, my other three roommates are still scaring the fuck out of me as they pretend like we’re actually friends. Yes, I’ve hurt Holden- although he deserves it, after conspiring with my mother- and I’ve lost a really excellent bloke. Yes, I still have numerous Quidditch matches and exams and OWLs to worry about whenever I return to Hogwarts. Yes, I’m missing from my sister’s dream wedding reception and she’s going to be right sore with me. Yes, my mother is going to be more disappointed in me than ever. Yes, it’s very unladylike to kiss blokes the way I am doing so right now. Oh, and yes, I’m freezing to fucking death.
All of those things are true, but I can’t stop to think about any of them for more than a fleeting second. Because right now, on the beach behind my house, my arms wrapped around the one and only boy I’ve ever loved, all I can think about is him.
A/N: Time to ramble again.
Are you happy with the ending? I know some of you preferred Holden over Lorcan, but hopefully, you all love the chapter nonetheless! I hope to receive reviews from everyone. Even if you don’t normally review, it’s the last chapter! Come on, guys. (:
Now, about Real Ladies:
Dom, James, Freddie, Lorcan, and Penelope are back for their seventh year! It’ll start to be posted in August, after band camp [anyone in marching band will understand how tortuous it can be.] and I hope you guys will like it. I have a slight warning for you, though: there will be a slightly sensitive topic featured in Real Ladies, teen pregnancy. That hopefully isn’t too much of a spoiler alert, but I do want to warn all of you now, just in case that changes your plans [I hope it doesn’t!] to read and fall in love with Real Ladies. And no, don’t worry. It’s not Dom.
Sneak peak of Real Ladies time? I think so.
Chapter One: Of Scouts and Futures-
“So, I’m taking it that old Malfoy will be pretty damn shocked when you pull off an Outstanding on our N.E.W.T. exam at the end of the year?” Lorcan asks, sliding into the empty seat next to me. Thanks to his Head Boy duties, I can now expect my boyfriend to be late to breakfast every single morning. Oh, I can’t wait.
Penelope sighs, casting an annoyed glance in my direction. “Thanks to Dom, yes,” she says, feigning irritation, even though she’s the one who came up with the idea to cover for me every time my cauldron bubbled over in Potions so I wouldn’t be sent to detention. I guess she didn’t think I’d do it twenty-eight times in our fifth year and twenty-seven in our sixth year. It doesn’t surprise me any. You should’ve seen me in my first year of Potions.
Remember, guys. Please, please, please review to tell me what you think of this final chapter. :) I love you all for your support, and thank you so much.
Oh, and go back and check out my chapter images. I think they're done, all the way up to Chapter Sixteen. (: Thanks so much for everything, you guys.