Chapter 1 : the in-between place
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In any other world, you could tell the difference
And let it all unfurl into broken remnants
Smile like you mean it and let yourself let go
-Any Other World, Mika
She sits there in the dark, her face buried in her arms. She pays no attention to the fancy soft blue dress robes that she wears, currently being crumpled.
Let them be ruined. So is her life.
She sobs silently, not able to make any noise at all; pushes away some man’s tie off the table and out of her way. She doesn’t know whose it is; she doesn’t care. It feels as though her heart is simultaneously empty and full, too full to stand. She cannot stand it any longer.
Her makeup is running, little black rivers traveling down her face. She lets the tears run onto her hair, once her pride and joy, as she wishes that the salt could wash away her mistakes.
They will come to her apartment, she knows. They will come and knock on the door - maybe they won’t even bother with the courtesy - and enter. They will want to know why she left.
It was inexcusable to them, she knows that. There will be hell to pay from her very large family.
But what they don’t know is that it was better that she left. If she stayed - if she stayed, it would be worse. They don’t understand.
Not yet. But they will.
It was selfish, in a way, leaving; she didn’t want to tempt herself, didn’t want to have to deal with it. But at the same time, it is not; she knows that had she stayed, her sister would have regretted it. She would have regretted it. No good would happen.
It is better this way.
She tries to convince herself that it’s all right - she’ll be okay. She can handle this. After all, she did, didn’t she? She walked away. She knew that she had to and she did.
But why she cries is because she knows that she will not be. Walking away - it shouldn’t have been that hard. And it wasn’t just because she was walking away from her sister’s wedding - a difficult decision in itself. It was because she knew that the moment she had a taste - the moment she drank the champagne, it would only lead to more and more and then -
The truth is, Dominique has never been in control.
All she can do is sit there in her dingy little flat in the heart of London, on a hard kitchen table with her fancy robes all crumpled, staining herself with her tears as she finally realizes this fact. She has never been in control and she never will be.
She falls asleep on her wooden table, her makeup smudged as she hides her face with her hair. She cries herself to sleep, her body shaking as she accepts the fact that things have gotten out of hand. She can’t do this anymore.
She is woken up gently by a pair of hands that feels familiar.
“Dom,” the person whisper, “Nikki, wake up.”
She knows of only two people who would call her Nikki.
Opening her eyes, for the first time in a while, she recognizes where she is. Not in the bedroom of a stranger, but rather in her own home.
The face of her cousin is above her, worried and desperately relieved. “Nikki, I’ve been looking for you for ages - we all have, I mean. Please don’t run away like this again,” she pleads to her.
Rose turns around and casts a Patronus with ease, a shining silver eagle, saying something softly under her breath, and Dom knows that it will be sent to the majority of her extended family, and that privacy will not be hers for very long.
“Dom,” her cousin says with a sigh, “what happened?”
The two of them have known each other since birth, as have most of all the cousins. They were born in the same year, along with Albus, and they had been inseparable. It was RoseandAlbusandDom for the first eleven years of their lives.
Rose’s face makes her want to cry again. It is that perfect mix of sympathy and worriedness and caring that her friend has seemed to perfect over the years. She is beautiful, Rose; curly auburn hair that reaches past her shoulders, always calm and collected and gorgeous. Calm and collected and gorgeous and one of the few people that Dom trusts.
“Everything, Rose,” she whispers, and her voice seems pitiful even to her own ears. “Everything.”
Rose studies her, sees the lines on her face and the smudges; sees the wrinkles in her dress; sees the desperate look in her eyes.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” she says softly, and helps her up.
Rose picks out clothes for her, handing Dom her favorite pair of jeans and a light tank top and cardigan, helping her pull them on. She feels like a doll or a little girl once more, as if her mother is dressing her. Rose says nothing, just hums quietly to herself.
“Come here,” she finally says, and Rose holds Dom’s brush in her hands and begins to methodically brush her hair, combing it over and over again in long strokes, turning the tangled rat’s nest into smooth golden strands. She is patient as she turns her cousin’s hair soft and beautiful once more, gently working her way through the snarls until Dom's hair is once again at its loveliest, strawberry blonde and shining.
Rose disappears into the bathroom; reappears with a warm facecloth in her hands. She dabs at Dominique’s face, washing away the tracks of mascara and eyeliner. Pulling out makeup, she begins to carefully redo Dom’s face, erasing the tear tracks and fixing her eyes. Without speaking, she knows that is how Dom is most comfortable. She hasn’t been seen without makeup since third year.
Dom hates feeling vulnerable.
They sit on her ratty couch together, Dom curled up into Rose’s side, Rose’s arm wrapped firmly around her. Finally, Rose speaks.
“What happened, Nikki?”
I lost control. I was about to lose control. I don’t know how to stop myself. Everything. “Life,” she responds heavily.
Rose is still wearing her dress robes, lavender and flowing. Dom appreciates the softness of the fabric as she keeps her face firmly hidden by it.
“And?” Rose won’t leave her be. When she refuses to say anything further, Rose sighs. “You know I’ll have to tell them, don’t you?” By them, of course, she means the family; by the family, it means the entirety of the world. There are no secrets with Weasleys.
“I know,” Dom affirms quietly.
“So what happened, Nikki?” Rose wants to know.
Bitterly, Dom tells her the truth. “I couldn’t do it anymore.”
A beat. Then: “Couldn’t do what anymore?”
And she breaks down, in the arms of her cousin and companion for the road that has lead her here.
She sits on the bed that is not hers in the room that is certainly not hers in this house that is absolutely not hers.
Dom feels physically ill, her stomach churning unlike anything she has ever felt before. She has always been proud of her confidence - her ability to enter a new situation with ease and elegance. But this is different.
Her suitcase sits at her feet, her hands clasped together tightly, fingernails pressing into her fingers in a desperate attempt to stay calm, leaving little half moon shapes behind.
Breathe, she says to herself. This is another new place, another challenge - one that she can overcome, if she tries. Breathe, Dominique.
She agreed, after all. They had asked her and she said yes - though she knows, deep down, that she didn’t really have a choice. Her family would have made her.
But for what it was worth, she had agreed.
There is a knock at the door. “Miss Weasley? May I come in?”
“Sure,” she manages to choke out, taking a moment to compose her face.
No one could ever say that Dominique was a bad actress.
She stands up, stands straight and proud, like her mother had taught her when she was young, automatically reaches to her hair, brushing it back past her shoulder.
A woman walks into the room briskly with a smile on her face. Her hair is as dark as Al’s, twisted up into a messy bun, some of it falling out and into her face. She has magenta robes on unlike the typical lime green of Healers. “Hello, Miss Weasley,” she says cheerily.
“Dominique,” she says. She doesn’t like the name Weasley.
“Dominique, then. I’m Nurse Henderson. Are you ready to go downstairs? There are some people we think you should meet.”
Numbly, Dom nods. “Sure,” she assents, and follows the nurse down the stairs.
“Welcome to Summerbee House,” Nurse Henderson says with a wry smile, as if she sees through Dominique’s reluctance, as if she knows better. “You’ll learn to like it here someday, I promise.”
Dominique smiles politely.
It sounds too much like a cross between a camp for children and some sort of spin-off of Hufflepuff, she argues to herself. She tries to picture sending letters, writing Summerbee House on the return address; saying to people, “I live at Summerbee House now.” It doesn’t quite fit.
It is too happy, too upbeat, too cheery. And yet... this is going to be her home for the next three months.
Not rehab - not exactly. A place, they had called it, a place in between. For three months they’ve sent her here, to gather her thoughts and her feelings, to find herself again.
After three months, she can return home, they said. Have a second shot.
She’ll take it.
With a deep breath, she follows the nurse down the stairs.
Welcome to Summerbee House, Dom.
AN: So... first time I've ever tried to write something longer than a oneshot. Gah! Scary!
I'm a little apprehensive with this one, as it's a relatively new plot bunny that came to me which is making me nervous. Also, I'm trying out a new style so... yeah, basically, this is scary.
...that being said, I'd love some feedback! Please tell me what you think. I'm always looking to improve.
(Also, stuff will be explained later. I promise. I'm ninety percent certain I know where I'm going!)