Chapter 4 : Dominique
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The song I quote from here is Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”, though I really drew on the Florence and the Machine cover, which lent a more tender meaning to it, at least to me.
Edited 25/2/12 with the help of reviewers. The image is by les.miserables (socal) on TDA.
You see the signs, but you can't read
You're running at a different speed
A swish of blonde hair, long and thick. The sharp clicking of high heeled boots striding across a paved street. Sunlight catching the oversized sunglasses, adding a gloss to an exterior that already shone impossibly.
Heads literally turned, even from quite some distance away. A befuddled tourist openly stared before his overheated wife snapped him back to life, as she was pulled at by small, thirsty children.
The beautiful woman smiled. Pretty girls were not uncommon on the streets of Paris, she was sure the tourist had realised this – not that these filles were anything like her. The Parisians were, she thought loftily as she adjusted the bag on her shoulder, a cut above the rest – tres, tres chic.
Women, much older than she, surely, pulled at their greying, splitting locks, perhaps considering a new treatment. Younger girls studied, however subtly, her stylish clothes. And the certain, je ne sais quoi, they would think to themselves later, tourists and Parisians alike adopting the tired French phrase.
She shook out her waves as she picked up the pace, noticing from behind her glasses both the envious and lusty stares she was receiving. The lustrous, naturally pale blonde hair; the luminous skin; the tall, lean body impeccably toned. The confident stride; the strut of a model as the simple, elegant clothes picked out on a previous shopping trip with her sister hung on her as if they were positioned on a shop mannequin.
No one would realise that Dominique Weasley was turning forty in a week.
Not until they took a closer look; that was. Not until they lifted the sunglasses, a trick she had learned from her Tante Gabrielle. They concealed the eyes – still as bright as they had always been, but now the surrounding skin was lined with age.
It was a pity; she thought at times like these, that her Veela genes had been thus diluted. She and Victoire had never caused the same disruption with their presence as their mother and aunt had caused – and still continued to cause. Perhaps the stronger concentration could have saved her from aging so. No matter how good a shape she was in physically, her skin had started to sag slightly. The area around her mouth was slightly cracked, but a little makeup took care of that.
She was turning forty in a week, but it wasn’t as if she had nothing to show for it.
The Quidditch World cup took place every four years, and France had won each of the last four since Dominique had joined the team, gaining captaincy after the first win. This was in addition to the huge successes of the team she captained in the French leagues.
This is what they would be discussing in the interview today. She had been chosen by the prominent newspaper Aujourd'hui as a kind of “Person of the Year”. Normally this honour went to Ministers, or academics or other such people of note. Once or twice people from the arts had received this but Dominique was the first sportsperson to hold this position.
She arrived at the office exactly on time, waving her hand slightly at the girl at the desk before striding towards the door at the end of the corridor, where she had been instructed to meet her interviewer.
Everett Capote was a novelist, a previous winner of the prize. Dominique had scoffed at this – story writing, earning such a prestigious title. Surely this brought down its reputation?
There was nothing wrong with such things, she conceded, rapping on the door. Lucy worked somewhere in the production of novels and that. But still – such a Muggle invention, not that Dominique had ever stopped to read one. She didn’t have the time.
She continued into the room after a call from inside.
A tall man greeted her, rising from a comfortable chair. His dark hair was flecked with grey, Dominique noticed, and he had lined eyes, rather like hers.
They exchanged pleasantries, before Capote requested her preferred language. She waved the question away, surprised at his politeness. She had never been asked this before.
“Ms. Weasley,” he opened warmly in French. “Or may I call you Dominique?”
She smoothed out her trousers as she sat down, ignoring the question. Surely he wasn’t serious.
He recovered quickly, asking her if she needed anything. She took her glass of water in hand, shaking her head lightly.
“Is there anything you would like this interview to ignore? Any questions you are uncomfortable with?”
Dominique snorted, derisively, as was her prominent tone on such occasions. “I’ll answer anything relevant, Mr Capote. Thank you.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Of course.”
They launched straight into the interview after he charmed his quill to take notes, starting with her upbringing, and her learning to fly. She recounted the old story of her pregnant Aunt Ginny bringing her a few feet above the air when she was five years old, moving on to the following stories of stolen moments during her childhood. All of these stories had already been heard before; Dominique recounted them in a flat tone. She thought about Hugo’s upcoming wedding, before snapping herself back to the interview.
She stopped herself in the middle of the famous story of her last match in Hogwarts, where she and her cousin Albus had switched positions at the last moment in order to throw the opposing team. She frowned at the man’s intent stare.
“Forgive me, Mr Capote, I must be boring you.”
“Not at all!” he rushed. “This is fascinating, I had no idea people started playing so young. Is that not very dangerous?”
Dominique’s mouth opened unwillingly. “Yes. During my teenage years I drank ‘Skelo-gro’ like it was pumpkin juice.”
They both chuckled at the joke, true as it was.
“How familiar are you with Quidditch, Mr Capote?”
“I know nothing of it, I’m afraid,” he confessed, his eyes sparkling.
There was a crash as her glass hit the floor. They both scrambled for their wands before Capote cleared it up.
“You know nothing of it?” she repeated, wondrously.
“Is that so hard to believe?” he grinned. “I never played it at Beauxbatons, and I haven’t crossed paths with it since.
He laughed again, a deep, reassuring sound, though Dominique didn’t know quite how it reassured her.
“What do you know about writing? Or is that irrelevant?”
She narrowed her eyes at the last part, before engaging with him. “Almost nothing,” she conceded. “I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel.”
It was his turn to be amazed.
“Never?” he whispered.
“Never,” she repeated, smiling despite herself. That had put him in his place.
He leaned back in his chair, hand at his mouth. His eyes still smiled as he surveyed her.
“Do you always wear your sunglasses indoors, Ms Weasley?” he asked, abruptly.
“Irrelevant,” she joked. Two jokes in one interview – hardly the Dominique she presented to the rest of the world.
“And so you’ve never read a book?” he asked a moment later, still astonished.
She held up her hand, annoyed. “That’s ridiculous. I’ve read books on Quidditch during my adult life, and my aunt’s books.”
“Ginny Potter,” she added, wondering if he had done any research at all.
He bowed his head. “Of course, I‘ve read her pieces on the English War.”
“The same aunt who taught me how to fly. She played Quidditch professionally.”
They began to talk about Ginny’s influence, Dominique making sure they didn’t stray too far into the personal, before they moved on to discussing the prestigious title she had been awarded. There were other polls of the kind, she had topped all of them before; this was far more important.
“The paper were quite keen on my interviewing you, you know, though I normally don’t do work for them of this kind. They said it would lend something, the interaction between two winners.
“Had you ever heard of my work, before this?” Capote asked, hesitantly, curiously.
She shook her head. “Had you heard of me?”
“Barely,” he admitted. She smiled inwardly, a triumphant smile. She was clearly the more famous of the two.
“I’d sometimes see ‘Weasley’ in the paper, but for a long time I just presumed the story was regarding English news, not sports. We have met, though.”
This unsettled Dominique. Normally she was far more prepared for any situation like this. She looked him over quickly. He was very attractive – surely she hadn’t?
But no. She remembered every one of her little trysts, whether she wanted to or not.
“Lucy Seton’s wedding. Ten to fifteen years ago, I can’t really remember. She had just taken on dealing with English publications of my novels.”
Dominique nodded. Lucy’s wedding had not been an enjoyable experience for Dominique, as she came to terms with her loneliness.
“Sorry, yes, I remember you.” She did, kind of. She had been too busy settling on Lucy’s new brother in law, Luke, as a target for the evening. Of course, he had thought he was pursuing her. That’s what they always thought, before they knew her.
He flicked threw his notes. “You’re not married though, yourself. Am I correct, Dominique?”
Her whole body clenched. “I’m not married. Though that is completely irrelevant.”
She took a sip of her water closing the little chat that had sprung from the interview. “And it’s Ms Weasley.”
She couldn’t look away. In her dressing gown, she sat still in the mirror in the fading light.
She was fading too. The hair didn’t have the same sheen. Her skin was dryer, and lined if not wrinkled. It pulled around her eyes, sagging slightly at the cheeks. The lack of make-up showed up showed the aging mouth.
These were the things she could not control. Her strict dietary and exercise regime helped her maintain the outward appearance she presented to the world. Complete denial kept what went on inside her in check, at least most of the time.
Dominique would turn forty tonight, seul.
Well, not alone. Her birthday was not until the next day, she was thirty nine until midnight. Unless she succeeded in sneaking out early, she would be ringing in her birthday with everyone who attended the banquet to be thrown by Aujourdhui for her.
Victoire was supposed to come with her, she always did. However, she had fallen ill. Nothing serious, but she couldn’t possibly attend. It was too last minute to find anyone else that would come.
She hated being alone so, so much.
She had had a boyfriend once, in school. Nate Wood. She laughed to herself slightly, the woman in the mirror doing the same. He had been self-obsessed, and manically jealous. She had thought her own self-absorption matched his well. She had been wrong – they were suited so badly she had nearly given up Quidditch in order to have a boyfriend like everyone else.
Since then, she had sought out men almost as des jouets. They were company for her until they left; or more often until she tossed them aside.
She wasn’t lonely merely in the absence of a romantic figure. She wanted someone who would go to these stupid parties with her, or who would be there even to talk when she returned home from a match or training.
It was a loneliness that echoed the pages of a novel she had read during the week, finding out the name of one written by Everett Capote, “Avarice.” Lucy had sent her an English translation, so she would be better able to grasp the concepts explored – she marvelled at how he had translated it himself. She had consumed it as if it were a part of herself, marvelling at the twisting of words and passion on the page. Capote’s narrative understood her like no one had.
She had an incredible family; the Delacours were lovely, but the larger Weasley-Potter clan were something else entirely. She always had a place in Victoire’s home, or Molly’s or Lucy’s or anyone elses. Ginny was as always her favourite aunt, and Dominique savoured every moment spent with her or Lily. She loved all her cousins, but had always doted on Lily, the youngest.
They were there for her, but they were not there. Not all the time.
She had spent years denying herself her own family. What had happened to Ginny? She had been forced to give up her Quidditch in order to take her place in the family. To be a mother to her children and a wife to Harry Potter, lovely as Uncle Harry was.
She had always resented the convention in her family that marriage was so important. As if love was all anyone ever needed. It was all because of these post-war ideals; the generation before her had held love above all else; marrying at ridiculously young ages or far too soon after meeting. Still, nearing forty five years after the war ended, these ideals were still prominent in her family. Even Albus and others as career-orientated as her never seemed to see things her way. They were all settled and disgustingly happy.
But who had gone so far as her? She held her head high, surveying her fading form in the mirror. Who had reached as high? She was Dominique; she was the warrior of the clan, the one who was so renowned for being so strong.
She lifted a calloused hand to her broad shoulder. Her dress for tonight had been carefully chosen so it would hide this irregularity and her muscled thighs. Make-up specially selected would make her look more youthful. The instructions she had been given regarding her hair – Dominique never allowed anyone else to style her – were constructed in an effort to make her seem even a little feminine.
She wondered if anyone would really desire her. The real her; the one without makeup or clever styling. The one who was both fierce and so horribly weak.
She was domineering and abrasive; these were words used by her enemies, the ones who said she must retire soon. She was a force of nature, according to her admirers. She “moved at a different speed” – this was the term lovingly used by her Weasley family.
She was Dominique, but she didn’t know who that was anymore, or if that was someone she wanted to be.
Carefully poised, she stood to receive the applause from those gathered there, for her.
“Thank you, everyone,” she began, a forceful edge commanding the audience to silence.
“I am exceedingly grateful for your support, and the kind words of those who have spoken here tonight.”
She paused again. This was all so formal, like her language for the interview. It was unnatural, but was how she always spoke in French. It was normal, however, for her to speak in French, just as normal as it had been for her to speak English. Smiling wryly as she collected herself, she remembered how Teddy had once said that the first language of the Weasley-Delacour family was a weird hybrid of the two. Speaking this combination of languages was when Dominique felt most at home, when not in the air.
“Throughout my life, I have loved flying. I have not lived this life however, purely out of love for the thing itself.
“I have lived in order to make certain things possible – the pride we feel in our community after a winning match, how the nation is brought together in a shared passion for this beautiful game.
“If I have dedicated my like to Quidditch, it has not been in an effort to gain fame or glory. It has been to share the pleasure that this sport brings, to free others in the way that this game has freed me, in the way it has opened so any doors for me.
“I wish now to thank teammates, past and present, and all of those who have shared this experience with me. I would like to thank, as always, my family. Without them, I do not know who I would be.”
She brushed a stray curl from her eyes as pictures were taken of her. She would not cry for them, as meaningful as her last words would be for her.
“Lastly, I thank Ginny Potter, who could not be here tonight. I thank my courageous, loving aunt for taking her young, boisterous niece and doing what no one else would do. She did not coddle me, or protect me anymore that I needed to be protected. She put me on a broom with her when I was five years of age, and began my life.
“She captained the most prominent all-witch team known to the Wizarding World, an inspiration to all of us. I thank her for her continuing support over the years, and for giving me this life-long love of flying. I only hope to be half the role model to others as she has been to me.”
She bowed her head slightly, and was met by thunderous applause.
She was exhausted. It was half ten, and she just wanted to go home and curl up alone. She had arrived here fashionably late at seven, and the night was to go on until dawn. Gone were the days where she would be the last to leave a club or party.
She had danced with colleagues and friends; though in reality her remaining friends here were just teammates. She had chatted and networked, she had posed for endless photographs. She slipped out to the salle de bain occasionally to make sure she still looked well. She sipped at endless glasses of water, smiling at everyone who passed.
Victoire used to keep a front of sorts, though this was of a general type of perfection. Dominique did not try to be perfect; she had no wish for this. It was necessary to seem strong, to keep this hardness in place so that she was able to succeed.
She couldn’t stay here any longer. She stopped pacing; hardly noticing she had been doing so, placing her glass down. Before she could make an exit, only pausing to give her thanks to those who had organise the event, she was interrupted.
“Ms Weasley, congratulations on the excellent speech.”
She spun around to see Everett Capote standing over her. This was the man who had commanded her attention through his work for the past week. She took in his impressive stature and his well-tailored suit before realising he had addressed her in English.
“Thank you, and for using my first language.”
“Of course, it’s your night. I used to speak it as a first language; I spent my childhood in England. I sometimes feel,” he said, almost apologetically, “My first language is a mix of the two. ‘Franglais’, so to speak.”
Dominique let out a peal of laughter she rarely used in front of acquaintances. “That is exactly what my brother in law says about myself and my siblings.”
They smiled at one another contently, before a photographer grabbed their attention and made them pose together. The sudden intrusion reminded her of her desire to leave.
“It was nice to see you again, Mr Capote. If you forgive me, I’m quite tired and intended to leave.”
Capote frowned, before recovering. “Of course, I understand – but I’m sorry to say it’s going to be difficult. I believe there was to be some publicity stunt with another French team captain.”
Dominique groaned. “Absolutely not. The press are always trying to set me up with men. They’re worse than my cousin Molly used to be, before she learned her lesson.”
He grinned, making him look far younger. “Let me help you leave.”
Dominique raised her eyebrows. “I’ll be fine thank – “
A waiter sent a table of glasses crashing to the ground, causing the room to look over.
Dominique felt a pull at her elbow and was guided out of the room by Capote, who was tucking his wand away.
“A simple confundous charm, he won’t get into trouble. It will be obvious he was tampered with.”
Startled that someone else was taking control, Dominique let herself be rushed out a backdoor to an alley.
She blinked, as Capote still held her arm. It wasn’t unpleasant, but she was surprised at the lingering contact.
She bit her lip. It wasn’t unpleasant at all.
She looked up at his eyes, kind and twinkling in their way. Perhaps she could make herself feel better by making him one of her conquests. As soon as she said this, something in his eyes stopped her. For some reason, he would not be suitable, attractive as she suddenly found him.
“And now, Ms Weasley, the night is yours.”
She thanked him, turning to leave before stopping herself.
“I’m not quite as tired as I thought I was. I don’t suppose you’d like to take a walk?”
He looked at her for a moment, and her stomach began churning. She must have looked ridiculous, luring him out of the party for a walk.
“I don’t mean to presume anything, Mr Capote. I’d just like a walk.” She rushed.
He laughed. “That sounds perfect; actually, I hate these things.”
He took her arm, entirely without her permission, and led her into the night.
“Your speech meant quite a lot to me, you know. It reminded me of why I like writing.”
“Really?” Dominique asked, glad of the mention of his writing. She had been thinking of it all evening.
He smiled. “Really. These stories, the Muggles were on to this for years. They bring people together in a way I’ve never seen before.”
“I read ‘Avarice’,” she admitted, despite herself. “I think I know what you mean.”
He stopped dead. “You didn’t.”
She roared laughing, startling him even more. “I’m not that stubborn, Mr Capote.
“It didn’t have a happy ending,” she mused. This was something that had bothered her. “It was left unfinished, I was under the impression novels always ended with love or happiness.”
He shrugged. “How realistic would that be? And in any case, it was happy. The character mastered their art. I thought that would appeal to you.”
She shrugged. “It’s supposed to.”
He studied her for a minute before speaking. “This is very unfair. You’ve tried reading; I should really have given Quidditch a go.”
Something old took hold of Dominique. A mischievousness she had completely forgotten had been so big a part of her character.
“Let’s go,” she ordered, impulsively. She took his hand, registering his surprise, and Apparated to the practice grounds of her French league team.
She adapted as well as she could to the feeling of high heels on turf.
“Now?” He asked, bewildered.
“Scared?” she countered. “I didn’t think you would be, after reading your book.”
“My books aren’t me, Ms Weasley.” He said sadly, shaking his head.
She bit her lip again. “I am Quidditch, Mr Capote. But there’s always a difference between person and persona.”
He nodded. “Who are you, then?”
She summoned two brooms, dreading the idea of coming up with an answer.
“If you do a lap with me, I’ll let you know,” she ordered, brusquely.
Confidently, she helped him mount the broom and kick off; he had reportedly not flown since he was very young. She didn’t believe he would actually go along with this. He was shaky at first, but soon rose to the air, gaining momentum. They lapped the pitch, though nowhere near the speed at which she would usually fly.
She flew close to him, not wanting to race ahead. She was perfectly comfortable at his speed, stealing glances at the exhilaration on his face. She had caused this in him.
They touched down on the top of the stands, sitting under the stars. The clock struck midnight.
“I’m forty years old, right now.” She laughed at Capotes shock and hurried birthday wishes.
“I live for flying. I love my family. They’re the only people who aren’t scared of me.” She said this out of the blue, without considering its implications.
They both laughed at that.
“I have some excellent friends, though no real family anymore.” He answered. “My parents died when I was quite young. That was why I grew up in my English relations home. I spend quite a lot of time alone, writing.”
“Do you like that?” she asked, hesitantly. She wanted more than anything to know, but couldn’t let him know that.
“Mostly,” he conceded. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Sometimes I wish there was someone there to share it with me though. I never married.”
She shook her head. “Me neither.” She couldn’t believe she was sharing this, though felt oddly at home. “I rarely seek out male company, when I do it’s physical rather than romantic. I never really saw the point until now. Maybe it’s just me getting older, but I don’t have as much faith in these flings anymore.”
He leaned back, lying down on the bench below her. She did the same on her own bench, until they were lying beside each other, heads beside each other though separated by about a foot, by width and height.
“Would I be the kind of person you would choose for one of those flings?” he asked jokingly.
She nearly cursed him, though restrained herself.
“Isn’t that a little inappropriate, Mr Capote?” She answered, as coldly as she could, focusing her gaze on the stars.
“Not at all, Ms Weasley. We’re both adults, aren’t we?”
She stood up, preparing to leave. He evidently wouldn’t mind forgetting her after a short affair.
“I think what we both want is a little different, isn’t it though?” He continued.
She paused at this, almost unwillingly. She was very, very tired.
“Would I be the kind of person you might let in, Ms Weasley?”
“That’s not really how I work.” She stammered, catching sight of his strong looking form in the moonlight, a shadow across his jaw.
She was stunned momentarily by him lying there, completely at ease with her presence. Ambitious as he was, like her, as dedicated to his craft, he was not running or hiding from her. She knew this of various reports she had heard of him; he isolated himself from the world when writing, barely emerging from his study for food or water, it had been revealed. He lived his life for what he did.
He was moving at a different speed, but not right now. Not with her.
What had it been that Molly had assured her at Lucy’s wedding that had upset Dominique so much before Everett Capote had wandered over? That everything fell into place once you found the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with? Complete nonsense really – putting the silly idea of romance before anything else.
But then, it had its good points. Someone to share all this with, someone to share this prize, her love for her career, someone to share her life with.
She looked down at him, as he gazed back up at her, still unmoving.
“Do you think I would be someone you would like to spend time with, Ms Weasley?”
She nodded, despite herself. “Maybe.”
The old Dominique caught hold of her then – the one flying her home at age five, the one who stole brooms with Teddy, the one who hugged everyone in her year after getting onto the Gryffindor team. The one who had almost exploded with happiness when Nate Wood first kissed her after Quidditch training, the one who cried in secret at the birth of all her nieces and nephews.
She lay back down on the bleacher in what seemed like slow motion; suddenly seventeen again as she looked into the kind, strangely youthful eyes of the man in front of her. They were two teenagers.
She faced back up towards the stars as he did the same, her hand hanging by her side. After a moment she felt a hand touch hers.
“And it’s Dominique,” she whispered, finally relaxing as Everett’s fingers interlocked with hers.
Perhaps she had been missing the final piece of the big picture. She lived for Quidditch, for the rush of adrenaline and the victory it awarded for. She lived for flying, as she always had. She lived for this, but perhaps they had been right, in part, her family.
Love is all you need.
Hi! My French isn’t great, but I felt it served something all the same. Please correct me if I’m wrong!
Filles – girls
Tres, tres, chic – very, very stylish
Je ne sais quoi – (literally) I don’t know what
Seul - alone
Des jouets – toys
Sale de bains- bathrooms
Franglais isn’t French or English it is rather a mixture of “French” and Anglais, the French word for English - I saw this online somewhere and liked it.
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