The next few days passed in a calm ripple; there was little fuss at home past Louis’s brooding looks and Victoire’s incessant talk of wedding boutiques and reception details and floral arrangements. She’d asked me a night ago to be a bridesmaid, along with Claire, and Valentina; Keira Kensington was asked to be her Maid of Honour. We all happily consented and the hours were spent away in reminiscing and watching Val and Keira glug down Firewhiskey. Normally, Victoire would’ve drunk herself to the next week, but she declined, citing something about her stomach and she was content simply watching and I’d never liked Firewhiskey much anyway. Friday afternoon found Freddy swearing fluently at a new stock of books on giants which were adamantly refusing to let him pick them up.
And so, Saturday evening saw me standing a strip of sand, watching the ocean waves lap against each other.
“Er – are you sure about this?”
“Yes,” I said quietly. “Calm down.”
“I can’t,” he said, twitching nervously. “I’m meeting your family. I can hardly be calm, can I?”
“Being nervous won’t help. Besides, you’ll be fine.”
Scorpius wasn’t listening.
I squeezed his hand gently and he looked away, distracted. It was nearly twilight and the pink sky was fanning out into cool blues where it met the ocean; the day seemed to pool away into sleepy droplets.
He was staring at the softly thatched roof of the cottage. “It’s – er – it’s nice.”
I smiled. “Isn’t it? My mum loves it here.”
Scorpius swallowed very deliberately, and we lingered for a moment longer on the sand strip, watching the ocean waves tumble back and forth quietly. The air was softly cold and his robes were the lightest blue and I couldn’t help but remember the sweet chill of spring. Whatever spring was, he and I were, and it was like the echo of laughter.
I pulled at his arm and he looked down at me, ruffling his hair. “We should go inside now. We’ll be late. My mum’s expecting guests other than us, you know. We can’t keep them waiting.”
This didn’t seem to reassure him, but he fixed his sight on me and smiled. “Al – alright.”
At seven o’clock, Shell Cottage heard the rustle of robes, the banging of doors, and the happy shout of my mother.
“Dominique! Oh, come een, come een!”
“Hello Maman,” I said, brushing past Scorpius. She gave me a quick embrace and gave Scorpius a warm smile.
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Weasley,” he said.
There was a curious look in her eyes as she stared between us, but thankfully, she said nothing more on the subject. She knew very little about him past his last name, his occupation, and that we’d been seeing each other for a little while. But for Maman, that was more than enough.
“Your seester eez in ze kitchen, Dominique.”
“Is Louis here too?”
“’Ze answer to zat, I’m afraid, eez yes,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Victoire ‘as also brought Teddy.”
She ushered us inside, humming something in French and looking delighted.
Dad was sitting on the sofa, reading the Prophet. The lamp beside him flickered and Dad folded up his paper and arose.
“Dominique, how’ve you been?”
“Fine, Dad.” I bent down and kissed him. His gaze fell on Scorpius, who took a visible step backwards, but to my surprise, kept an even gaze.
“You’re Scorpius, are you?”
“Yes, sir,” said Scorpius.
Dad eyed him for a tense moment, his scarred face unreadable. His eyes bowed down to my hand, which was still tightly clasped around Scorpius’s.
He wouldn’t ruin this for me – he couldn’t.
“The kitchen’s that way,” Dad said finally.
The inside of my old home was comfortingly warm; it smelled like apples and candle wax and cinnamon. The walls were a pearly white and from everywhere, the happy memories of my childhood wafted again back to me. The cotton curtains of the kitchen blew in the wind as Maman forced us into seats.
Across the kitchen, Louis was making a scene as usual.
“I’ll be bloody – ”
Victoire was laughing. “I don’t see why this’s such a big deal, Lou – ”
“Well of course you wouldn’t – ”
Ted was standing, cornered, palms up. “Your sister’s just trying to help you, Louis.”
“Like hell she is!”
Scorpius gave me a slightly alarmed look at the sight of the general bedlam; I supposed being a rich only child in a household as quiet as the Malfoy’s didn’t much help the transition. Dad had entered again, wearing the same expression that made him look very like a serial murderer. Louis was still, for whatever reason, threatening my sister. Victoire was laughing maniacally loudly, and Ted had one arm slung around her waist, looking completely at home in the chaos.
He was immunized, to the ritual Weasley clamor. He was here often enough to be a honorary Weasley himself.
Maman shouted over the loudness, carrying a flowery apron in one hand and an empty pot in the other. “Scorpius, please seet down!”
At this, everybody stopped. Louis, Ted, and Vic all stared at Scorpius as though they’d only just noticed he’d arrived.
“Hello Scorpius,” said Victoire, perking up at once. “We’ve met before. And I’m sure you remember Ted.”
“He’d better,” said Ted, smilingly, “He’s the only one in this house I’m actually related to. So...you and Dominique, eh? Well, can’t say I saw that one coming. I always reckoned you’d end up with Molly.”
Victoire shot him a withering ‘stop-talking-right-now’ look. It was times like this that I adored having an older sister, even if I had to put up with her strange demands, theatrics, and general bossiness.
“What about Molly?” said Scorpius, raising an eyebrow.
Ted caught on to Vic’s scorching Weasley glare; I don’t think Ted expected much less – the glare was no doubt inherited from a long line of headstrong Weasley women like Nana Molly, Aunt Angie and Aunt Ginny, who were paired with equally thick husbands. (Or so Aunt Ginny always liked to say.)
Ted blanched, before adding feebly, “Nothing.”
“Besides,” said Vic warmly, “you and Nicky look very suitable with each other, you know. Actually, the very first time I met you at the Burrow, you came with Freddy. D’you remember? I was thinking about how much my sister’d like you. But she was in France at the time, you know. I even told Ted to remind me to introduce you two.”
“You did?” asked Ted, eyebrows raised. Vic bumped her arm into his ribs.
Scorpius gave a nervous laugh. He and I shared a look as Ted and Vic began talking with each other.
“I told you - you had nothing to worry about,” I whispered.
“Thanks,” he said. “Your family’s…nice.”
I resisted adding another ‘I told you’. “Different from your own family?”
“A little,” he admitted, “but it isn’t a bad thing.”
Maman fluttered in between the small gathering on the sofa. “Ze dinner eez ready.” She rested her hand on Scorpius’s shoulder. “Come zis way, dear.”
Dinner was a quiet affair. Maman twittered around happily and asked some questions of Scorpius – how was his job? How was his family? - while Dad watched pointedly. We all ate with a small sense of occasion, save Victoire, who skipped eating all together.
“I feel horrid,” she said. “It’s better I don’t eat. Don’t want to vomit anything up during dinner and spoil Scorpius’s first time here.”
Louis was still sitting next to us glumly, obviously thrown off by the dissymmetry of it all. Me and Scorpius, Maman and Dad, Ted and Victoire.
The empty seat across Louis couldn’t have been fuller with Lisette’s presence.
When Ted and Lou were in the middle of a heated argument about Quidditch teams and Dad and Maman busied themselves with Scorpius, a whisper came from my right.
“Hey.” It was Victoire. “I need to tell you something important.”
“No one’ll hear us, so why not?”
“Alright then, what is it?”
“It’s about Louis. He’s been yelling at me all day.”
“What did you do?” My voice took on a warning intonation, at which Vic scoffed.
“Nothing too bad,” she said.
“What is it then?”
“Well, I need your help for this, Nicky. Just in case something’s goes wrong.” Her voice went significantly quieter. “I’m having Lisette come over after dinner to our flat.”
“It’s about time we get this sorted out, wouldn’t you agree?” Victoire waved her hand airily.
“Victoire, it’s really none of our business.”
“How can you say that?” She gave me a pointed stare. “Of course it’s our business. It’s our brother, who happens to live at our flat and keeps reaching for my special stock of Firewhiskey every few days.”
“Vic, you barely even drink it…”
“That’s not the point, I paid for it! And Lisette’s such a sweet girl, Nicky and you and I both know that no other girl’s going to put up with our brother like she did…We really ought to…for both of their sakes…”
It looked as though Vic had inherited Nana Molly’s penchant for nosing. I sighed. One could hardly blame Lou for yelling at her.
A sudden brush from my left ended our conversation. It was Scorpius, who in turn grinned at me.
I leaned forward. “How’d it go?”
“Not bad,” he said smilingly. “Your mum’s really nice and your dad – er – he’s kind of intimidating, to be honest. He mostly just watched me a lot.”
“He’s like that,” I said. “It’s been ages since any of us’ve brought a new visitor here, so he’s just not used to it. Lou’s been with his girlfriend since a few weeks ago and you already know about Ted and Vic. And it’s especially rare coming from me.”
“Can’t imagine why,” said Scorpius, leaning to give me a kiss.
I squeezed his fingers and nodded towards my father. He stopped himself immediately. “Almost forgot,” he said apologetically. Instead, he contented himself with resting his hand on my knee, under the safety of the table cloth. Ted said something over the table and Scorpius turned to reply and I left them both and floated to some distant past. Not of cobwebs or scribbled love letters, but doodles on parchment, sweet honey and the soft touch of the sea.
Once upon a time, there had been a little girl who lived in a castle made of imaginary sketches and made up words. It was silly that she was pragmatic in every way but in this, but that was what she was. Her mother always reckoned that it was one too many romantic novels that had addled her head, but time passed and she grew. But she was fifteen and still thought of Prince Charming at times and she was silly enough to think to think it was her sister’s lover and wept foolishly and bitterly when he chose to love her sister back.
And the years passed and she let a distant dream sail over the horizon of the past and she grew up. I thought about that little girl sometimes and wondered if she would ever get her dream bouquet of roses, but I supposed at the end that she never did.
But I fancied thinking that she’d grown up into someone she could be happy with. In life, there would never be a prince and she found that she did not need one.
And in the end, whoever she’d finally found was no longer that ridiculous, overstuffed adolescent dream of her prince. There were no birdsongs or castles, but she was finally happy.
But most of all, I supposed that she’d finally put down her childish daydreams and tossed off the crown and become who she always knew she should’ve been.
When we finally left, it was quiet,
Maman pulled me aside as Louis shuffled ahead in front of me. “Dominique, come ‘ere.”
“What is it?” At her knowing grin, I started immediately. “Is it about – ”
“He eez a dear,” she said, glowingly. Relief flooded through me; I had her approval at least. “Your grandmuzzer weel be delighted – you know ‘ow she worries about us. A decent one for you at last.”
“I thought you said Edmund was decent,” I said jokingly, thinking of my boyfriend from four years ago.
Maman made a face. “I only said zat to please you. We all knew zat ‘e was only ‘ere for ze attention. ‘e wanted ze fame, the fortune, of being with you.”
“Maman! Be honest. What d’you think of Scorpius, really?”
“He eez lovely,” she said, beaming. And with that, she pushed me gently away and I took it as my queue to make for the door. I linked my arms through Scorpius’s and laughingly, we both made our way outside, into the star strewn night. The ocean was still and lovely in its blackness. I looked at the reflections of the stars upon it and felt as though everything were at peace.
The Apparation trip home was quick; we left a few minutes after everyone else, still waving goodbye to the silhouettes of my parents. Scorpius left me outside my doorstep, looking nervous again.
“Enjoyed everything?” I asked.
He laughed. “More than I thought I would, at least.”
“I don’t know why you complained so much. It isn’t my house that’s a manor or one that has its own house elves. And my mum’s perfectly sweet and Dad knows – well, he knows how to behave.”
“I don’t think it would’ve mattered if it was a manor or a pile of rubble, to be honest,” he said. “It’s your house with your family. Ah – it was a pretty intimidating prospect in all.”
An evening breeze blew between us.
“I suppose I’ll be going inside then,” I said, “we’re expecting someone and – ”
He closed the gap in height between us so quickly that the air flew out of me, his lips on mine. It was only after what seemed like several moonlit nights that we separated. He was grinning happily, his hand ruffling his hair, and I could feel my own heated blush.
“Ah - I’ve really got to get going,” he said apologetically, after a few seconds of stillness.
“Already?” At this, he smiled and seeing my chance, I kissed him briefly on the cheek. “No, stay, just for a bit…”
Tempted, he leaned down towards me and I knit my hands through the soft texture of his hair, feeling my entire body warm when he gripped my waist tightly and I inclined his face towards mine. For the first time, I was kissing him, though it was in multitudes and quickly – it was hard to replicate the breathless way he made me feel. Somewhere along it, we ended up against the door of my flat.
From somewhere inside, there was the chime of the clock. I did not think I ever hated clocks more in my life.
It broke us out of the silk of the moment and he pulled away. “I – I really have to go now…”
He took my hands, and slowly kissed my fingers. “Good night, Dominique.”
“Good night. Thank you for coming.”
And with a wave backwards, he disappeared into the quiet darkness. I stood for a few moments, admiring the small puddles which floated like blue lagoons over spring grasses and the crickets singing in harmony, before I hastened inside.
I’d barely fumbled with the doorknob before I was greeted with two jubilant shrieks and an appreciative chuckle. I took a step in before I was engulfed by an unidentified embrace.
“Oh, you two look adorable! He kissed you and everything!”
My best friend took a step back and gave me an appraisal, as though I was the one who had been lurking around questionably in her flat. “None of us knew you’d snag someone quite that fit, Nicky. I mean Edmund Goldstein wasn’t bad – he was alright for a decent snog, I suppose - but you’re so quiet half of the time and he was such an idiot – ”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We – we weren’t doing – ”
“We all saw it,” came another voice. “There’s no point hiding it. It was right outside the window and everything.” It was then that I properly looked around. Victoire was sitting on the sofa, wearing an smug look on her face. “My little sister and her boyfriend’ve got no decency at all.” She folded her legs, sounding utterly delighted. She was just like Maman sometimes, honestly. Theatrics and all.
“Look who’s talking,” said Louis, from near the rubbish bin. He was determinedly looking at his hands. “As I recall, I Apparated home yesterday and got welcomed by getting to see you and Ted eat each others’ faces off.”
Victoire stuck her tongue out shamelessly. A few feet from her was a brown-eyed girl with soft brown waves that I’d just noticed. Suddenly, Claire’s presence made sense as I remembered the plan for the evening.
She gave me a shy smile. “Hello, Dominique.”
I yanked down the hem of my robes, feeling distinctly more humiliated by the second. Not only had my sister and my best friend seen me snogging someone, even she had seen it!
“I haven’t seen you in ages,” I managed.
“Yes,” she said in her characteristically quiet way, “it has been a while.”
I was still struggling with fixing my hair. Victoire let out a small giggle, but I ignored her. “How’ve you been?”
It was an idiotic question to ask my brother’s ex-girlfriend, but she managed a small smile. “Alright.”
There was an awkward silence. The corners of my flat never seemed so crowded as they did in that silence. The lamplight undulated feebly against the blank grayness of the walls.
“So – ” began Claire and Victoire at the same time. They both looked away.
“I’ll be going if you don’t mind,” said Louis hastily, making an idiotically obvious rise for his room.
“Get your stupid arse back down,” snapped Victoire. “We’re getting this over with and that’s that.”
Along with the Weasley nosiness, Victoire had also inherited the Delacour bossiness. My sister was a frightening culmination of family faults.
Lisette played with the pattern on the sofa and cleared her throat. Louis stared at her for a moment, before getting thwarted by an angry glare sent his way by Claire.
“What happened between you two anyway?” This was Victoire.
There was no response. Victoire looked at Claire, who shook her head. “No point asking me, I don’t know a thing.”
“What the hell – ” began Louis angrily, but Victoire cut him off.
“Just tell us, will you?”
“I barely know it myself.”
“It was Louis,” said Lisette softly. Everyone turned to stare at her, except Louis, who was now watching the wall with a deadpan stare. “It’s always the same with him.” She sounded exhausted. “Always the painting, and always the working. I’d wake on some mornings without him having slept near me at all and I’d wonder what the point was that he was even there. It was like there was time to do everything but remember me. Work, paint, spend all night with friends…he always promised things would change…they were stupid things and I believed him for a while…but he was right – things do change…”
Victoire turned to Louis with a venomous look on her face, clearly ready to hit him over the head in a style only my sister could manage to do.
“I just thought you should know why, Victoire,” said Lisette calmly, now examining her palms with a neutral expression, though there was a slight heat to her posture. “After all, you and Dominique’ve both been wonderful to me…your whole family, really. I could’ve written you, but I’ve known you for so long and I know you’d rather I told you myself.”
“They all miss you,” I said, “My mother and my cousins.”
She managed a pained smile, understanding the consequences. She would never be able to sit in on our Weasley dinners and feel the clamour of our family at full glory again. Whatever friendships she’d held with our family – shopping with Lucy, dinner weekly with Lily – would eventually fade when Louis got another girlfriend in her stead and it would be awkward for her to linger about. It was the close of something multi-dimensional and organic.
“That’s kind of you to say,” she said.
“If there’s anything we can do to compensate for my brother – ” began Victoire, but Claire cut her off.
“We should be leaving, Lisette. Nicolas’ll be waiting and he doesn’t have keys to the flat.”
At this, Louis perked up. “Nicolas? Who’s Nicolas?”
“That’s none of your business,” snapped Claire and Louis looked properly sullen again. Claire and Lisette both arose and after a brief goodbye, made for the door.
I followed them out for their departure. Claire shut the door firmly behind us as we stood out in the silence of the night. The moon looked enormous in the wake of the stars and the curdling folds of the sky.
Lisette Disapparated first, having left with Claire’s promise that she would soon follow.
I stood outside my flat for the first time in years with my best friend. The world felt completely alone. When was the last time we had stood like this and simply watched the stars rotate together like this? It’d been years…we were maybe nineteen or twenty and we’d been so sure of life and we’d had so many plans. But time had passed and life seemed so different than the ideal worlds we’d made for ourselves. My dreams of being a world famous writer had entirely evaporated and Claire had followed her family’s advice of being a Healer in the end, no matter how much of a scene of it she’d made at the time.
“Complicated stuff, this is,” said Claire, pushing her black hair out of her glasses and sighing. “If only everyone could have that princess stuff your sister has with Teddy.”
“You’ve obviously forgotten what nearly happened to Emma Midgen when she tried to rub herself all over Ted in that Christmas party five years back.”
“Oh that’s right,” said Claire, obviously cheered by the memory of a girl being hit by an unusually powerful Bat Bogey Hex and singlehandedly toppling a fifteen foot tree. “Things were easier back then. If someone did something wrong, you just hexed the life out of them and moved on. Why’re things so difficult now, Nicky?”
“We grew up, I suppose.”
“That’s a horrible thing to say,” she said dully.
“Not really. I don’t miss running after Edmund Goldstein like a silly schoolgirl,” I said pragmatically. “Or weeping my eyes out after Ted or whoever.”
“I reckon you don’t,” said Claire, her eyes twinkling in a disconcerting way. “Not after that show outside tonight. Not quite like Ted and Victoire, but it was still something.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ll introduce you sometime, if you behave.”
“Scorpius Malfoy, is it? Never imagined you and a Malfoy, Nicky.”
“Neither did I,” I admitted, “but so what? None of us imagined Lisette would chuck Louis, but here we are. Time changes a lot of things, doesn’t it?” As Claire reached for her wand, I remembered something. “Incidentally, who is Nicolas?”
Claire snorted. “My neighbour. He’s a nightmare, he is. Keeps losing everything. I hang on to his second pair of house keys so he doesn’t forget them somewhere and they’re nearby if he misplaces his other one. He keeps ringing down my door because he loses his own! It’s a pain in the arse half the time, but his girlfriend’s the landlady’s niece and I’d like my rent lowered.” She pulled her robes around her tightly. “But don’t tell Louis I said that.”
“Just don’t. Keep going on about how close Lisette and Nicolas are. We’ll see how he reacts, alright?”
On that odd note, she gave me a small smile, bid me good night and zoomed out of sight with a faint pop.
The next morning awakened me by hearing Victoire cursing in another room. Dawn had broken over the skies a little while ago and wispy cloud ends made half the world seem empty. It was a time that saw the intersection of wishes and words.
I rose, feeling my muscles stiffen at the sudden movement.
“Damn it, damn it, damn it! Damn it!” came a steady chorus from the toilet. I approached the door cautiously.
There was a creaking footstep, more cursing, and the door opened. My sister stood in front of me, hair thoroughly tussled, clothing askew, and clearly in a worse state than usual.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I’m still sick, damn it! I’ve got two deadlines to meet and Romilda McLaggen’ll have my head if I’m not done with that article on contemporary trends in robe length and material by this afternoon.”
“Ask for an extension?”
She snorted derisively. “You only say that because you’ve never met her. If you met her, you’d know why I couldn’t.” She groaned. “Romilda McLaggen’s the most horrible creature to ever emerge from the earth. They say she’s related to Rita Skeeter, which I think explains a rather lot. Could you give me my robes? They’re on my bed. I’ve got to get changed.”
“You’re going?” I asked. It wasn’t sensible when it looked as though she were ready to faint any moment. “Vic, just – ”
“Alright, fine.” I ran to her bedroom and yanked the crimson robes on her bed and tossed them to her. “Please just eat something first.”
“I feel terrible…I don’t know…”
“D’you promise you’ll pick up something while you’re working? Don’t make me have to Apparate in during lunch and check up on you.”
She gave me a strained smile. “Yes, I promise.” At my suspicious look, she grinned. “I’ll have to eat today anyway. I’m meeting Keira and Alexander for lunch with Ted. And you know how Keira is when I don’t eat.”
Feeling satisfied, I dressed and Apparated to Flourish and Blotts. A bar of sunshine was piercing through the clouds like trickling gold as I pushed past the tinkling door. There was still a long week ahead of me.
Author's Note: Please don't kill me for the lack of updates! I truly apologize - life's been incredibly hectic with school and such and I've had no time in the last three months to write.
I hope this chapter proved at least somewhat satisfactory and I promise speedier updates are in the near future! So, what do you guys think of Lisette/Louis and Dominique/Scorpius? And fear not, Freddy and his general awkwardness will return in the next chapter! :D
I do hope that I didn't chase all of you off with the lack of updates and please remember to leave a review telling me how it was. I do read them all, even if my responses are delayed, and I appreciate all the thoughts of my lovely readership.