Chapter 9 : And Then There Was One
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I just want to give a fair warning: this chapter holds some EXTREMELY touchy topics pertaining to suicide. I just want give readers a warning in advance, but other than that - despite that sadness of this chapter - I hope you enjoy!
beautiful chapter image by Clara Oswald @ TDA
It was hours later when Dominique and Ignotus finally pulled themselves from the plush grass and mounted their horse once again. They had spent the rest of the evening just lying on the grass beneath the stars, sharing their deepest thoughts and ponderings. Dominique assuaged Ignotus' fears of his brother's impending death, occasionally having to convince him he couldn't do anything about it. While most of their conversations seemed somber in topic, Dominique did her best to move to the happier things, occasionally getting a smile out of Ignotus when she would speak of how happy she was with him and then kiss his cheek.
After what seemed like no time at all - despite the fact that at least an hour had passed - they reached Ignotus' home. He helped Dominique off the horse and led her inside. He opened the door for her but made no movement to join her. She paused in confusion in the doorway. "Are you not coming in?"
"No," Ignotus answered, "not yet. I want to check on my brother."
Dominique blinked a few times, a sinking feeling hitting her stomach. It weighed her down, dragging her along the floor. She wanted to take Ignotus' hand and pull him inside; she knew there was nothing he could do despite what he thought he could change. But Ignotus couldn't deny the feeling inside of him. He had lost one brother already; he knew what it felt like. Horrible, falling into darkness, as if you had lost a part of yourself. He couldn't lose Cadmus too. He had to try and reach out to him while he still had the chance.
"Ignotus," Dominique sighed heavily, "please. Come inside. Cadmus is..."
She faltered, unknowing of what to say. Cadmus was what? She wanted to say he was incapable of being rescued, that he was beyond reach, that Ignotus couldn't do anything, but she knew that would only infuriate Ignotus. She knew he would declare that she had no right to speak in such a way or make such accusations when she barely knew him. She knew that nothing she could say would keep Ignotus from going to Cadmus'.
So she shook her head and looked to the floor. "All right," she said in reply to him finally.
"Go to bed, my Lady," he said tenderly to her, not wanting her to worry. "I will see you in the morning."
Dominique nodded and moved to close the door. She watched him turn from her, but she stopped him before he had mounted his horse once more. "Ignotus?" He turned back to her with a curious, waiting expression. "Please be careful."
He only gave a curt nod before slipping his foot into the stirrup and hoisting himself onto his horse once more. When the door to his home was shut, he kicked his heels up into the horse's side and they were off, galloping through the quiet town. Ignotus didn't care that it was the late hours of the night. He had to see his brother. Even if Cadmus wasn't suicidal yet, even if Ignotus still had time to make his brother see reason, Ignotus at least wanted to make sure his brother had made it home safe after seeing him drunk on the steps like that. Tyrion had stayed the night at Ignotus' with Eirene for a reason; Tyrion was too young to be home for the night by himself and Eirene had chosen to not attend the wedding party. This way Cadmus could attend the party with no worries about Tyrion's well-being for the night. However, this also gave Cadmus a perfect reason to allow his incoherent state to get the best of him.
The town was quiet, apart from a few drunkards who were clumsily making their way back to their homes after leaving the wedding party. When Ignotus reached his brother's home, he abandoned his horse out front, letting it graze for grass to nip at.
He tried to slow the rapid beating of his heart. He tried to tell himself to relax, that he had nothing to worry about just yet. He shouldn't be panicking when there was no immediate reason to. He made himself be still on the porch of Cadmus' home until his heart came to an easy, relaxed beating, and he then allowed himself to approach the door. He raised a fist and knocked three times, stating his presence while knowing Cadmus could very well be asleep inside. "Cadmus? It is I, Ignotus. Are you there?"
After many moments of nothing but silence, Ignotus knocked again. His heart began to race again, and when he felt as if he may vomit from the anxiety, he pushed the door open. The inside of his brother's home was dark; not even shadows were visible. He pulled out his wand and gave it a wave, a beam of light radiating from the tip. He looked in to home, and his gaze came to rest on the very thing he feared.
He dropped his wand. His hand went to his mouth, and he fell to his knees. Tears blurred his vision within seconds and he began to choke on his cries.
"NO! No, no, no, Cadmus!" Ignotus begged from the door way.
He turned his grip into fists, and he beat down on the wooden floor, cursing himself for not interceding sooner.
Why would his brother do this? How could this happen? Why would Cadmus leave him? Why would he leave Eirene and Tyrion? How?! Ignotus let out a terrible cry. He had lost both his brothers. Cadmus Peverell was dead.
Dominique couldn't sleep. No matter what she told Ignotus. He had told her to not wait up for him, but she hadn't listened. There was something unsettling about it all, something she couldn't quite place her finger on, and she wondered if Cadmus Peverell's time was upon them.
She waited in the front hall of Ignotus' home for his return. She sat on the bottom step of the stairs, gnawing on her nails in fear. She didn't know why she was so worried, but the duration of Ignotus' absence made her worry even more. She was tired; sleep was clawing at her eyes, and her corset under her pale gold gown was beginning to make her stomach ache. She had grown accustomed to wearing the corsets; in fact, she quite liked them now, but she still felt the tight pain of the clenching of her stomach after wearing one for hours on end.
It was after two hours had gone by that she finally rose from her spot on the stair and stepped into the living room to speak to Jocosa. Upon the sound of her footsteps, Jocosa gave a stir and awoke from her light sleep. She too had been waiting for Ignotus to come home, knowing she should be around to take his cloak for the evening. She pretended as if she hadn't been sleeping when Dominique entered the room, but she knew better.
The corners of Dominique's mouth tugged up into a grin. "Don't worry, Jococsa," she said kindly. "It's fine. I'm going to go find Ignotus. Please, get some rest."
"But, my Lady, I should - " she began, but Dominique stopped her with a raise of the hand and a shake of the head.
"No. I will tell Ignotus I dismissed you for the day. He won't mind. Please. Get a good night's sleep," Dominique said sweetly.
Jocosa smiled in return and expressed her gratitude before slipping out of the room and to her quarters for the night. When she was gone, Dominique went to the door and grabbed her cloak. She swung it over her shoulders, connecting the fine purple material to the golden broach at her throat, and she left the house.
The night was quiet. There was no rustle of the wind, and not even the crickets chirped. In the silence she stole away to the stables where she saddled up her horse like Ignotus had taught her to do, and she heaved herself up onto it. She didn't bother with riding side saddle. Not in the middle of the night like this. She hoped it was late enough to not pass anyone on her ride who would notice and judge her. She knew she had previously been in a delicate position; she had to appear proper, respectful, and mannerly. If she didn't, then her reputation could reflect on Ignotus', as he was the one who had taken her in. She found that she didn't care for her reputation, but for Ignotus'; however, she had luckily won over everyone at the wedding party that night.
She rode swiftly. She had learned to understand the creature she sat upon; she knew when to lean, when to rise from the horse's back when it jumped. It had become second nature to her, and while riding the thing the first few times had terrified the life out of her, she rather enjoyed it now. The wind lifted her curls off of her back and breathed the life into her cheeks as she raced through Godric's Hollow in the dead of night. As she wished, her journey was lonely. No one inhabited the streets at the lonely hours of the night.
They were coming upon Cadmus' house soon enough, and when the horse had slowed to a trot outside the door, she hopped off and patted the creature's neck in thanks for its obedience. She let it graze next to Ignotus' horse a fair ways off, and at the sight of his horse, she knew he was either within the house and perfectly fine or something had gone terribly wrong. She hoped it was the first.
Uneasily, she hiked up her skirts and ascended the steps onto Cadmus' porch. The door was wide open, and a noticeable sobbing sound was coming from within the depths of the dark house. Dominique felt her heart jump into her throat, and her face grew hot with fear. She had heard those cries before; they belonged to the man who had found her in the meadow, the man who had taken her in, the man she knew she had come to care for. She had heard them before when his first brother had died.
"Oh, Ignotus," she moaned painfully.
She sucked in a deep breath and tried to prepare herself for what she would find inside, and mustering her courage - for herself and for Igntous - she took a bold step forward. She blinked her vision into focus and tried to force down the churning feeling in her stomach that arose at the sight before her. She was an Auror, yes; she had been trained for certain events and seeing certain things, but she had never seen this, and she had only seen Antioch's body covered by a sheet.
The sight was painful. She couldn't look at the body of the man she once knew anymore. Hanging in the air, a chair knocked over on the ground, the noose strung from the rafters.
Ignotus was on the ground, just feet in front of her. She tore her eyes away from Cadmus' body and to Ignotus on the ground. She fell to her knees beside him and embraced him. He recognized her arms and welcomed her gentle shoulder as he cried into her.
"Ignotus, I'm so sorry," she gently whispered into his ear.
His tears dampened the skin against her collar bone, and his arms went around her for support, clinging to her. She didn't know what to do. She couldn't imagine how Ignotus must feel. She only knew one thing to do, and that was to comfort Ignotus. She rubbed his back and kissed his head, muttering her apologies.
After what seemed like ages of more crying, Ignotus finally sucked in a deep breath and went quiet. With his new silence, he went still. Dominique pulled away from him. The question that wished to leave her lips was 'what's the matter?' but she felt as if that question was obsolete. Of course she knew what the first matter was: Cadmus was dead. But what had caused Ignotus to go so still, so quiet, and for his cries to cease.
"What is it?" she phrased it, seeking out his eyes in the darkness.
She found his warm hazel eyes, bloodshot and beseeching. His mouth was open with an epiphany forming on his lips, and her brow pulled together in questioning. He lifted a weak hand and pointed at her. "You..." he moaned, his voice catching on his cries. "You knew. You knew he would take his life!"
"Ignotus!" she breathed out in a painful gasp. Was he accusing her of Cadmus' death? Was he placing the blame on her? "Are you blaming me for what he did?"
"You knew and you could have done something!" he hissed.
She flinched. Ignotus had been forgiving about Antioch's death, so why was this different? She had tried to explain to Ignotus how fragile the balance of time was, how one small thing could change so much. She couldn't interfere, and Ignotus knew that.
"You knew that I couldn't," she begged in an airy whisper.
"He is my brother!" moaned Ignotus, beginning to hold himself together as he rocked back and forth. "You could have done something. You should have told me sooner."
"I couldn't! I shouldn't have told you in the first place," she said with acidity. She wished add further retorts to show her anger with him, but she tried to be understanding. She knew he had just lost his brother. Just like his need for vengeance after Antioch's death, perhaps this unnecessary blame and angst towards her was only temporary. Perhaps it was his way of coping.
"We could have saved him!" Ignotus cried out. "We could have! If you hadn't been so worried about your life back at home! About the future 800 years from now!"
"Shh," she whispered. She forced down her anger at him. With the faith that it would soon subside, she wrapped him into her arms once more. She cradled his head and pulled it into the crook of her neck where she rocked him back and forth. She listened to him momentarily continue his accusations of Cadmus' death being her fault. She tuned them out, forcing her eyes shut as she rocked him, and finally his cruel accusations turned into nothing more but muffled cries.
"Shh," she continued to soothe, running her fingers through his hair as she rocked him. "I know. I'm sorry."
She didn't know how long they continued to be like that. When he was no longer crying and only breathing heavily into her neck, she finally pulled away from him, knowing they would have to do something about the body.
"Ignotus," she began uneasily, "we have to do something. We can't just leave him like that."
He swiped at his eyes and sat up straight, nodding. She could see him trying to be the man he knew he was. She could see him struggling with his emotions and trying to force them aside so he could take the initiative he knew he had to. He stumbled to his feet, forcing down his cries, and he instructed Dominique to help him as he needed.
Dominique stood the chair back up, and Ignotus helped her onto it. When she was steadily standing on the chair, he passed her his sword and he positioned himself beneath his brother. Dominique cut the rope from the rafters in one fluid motion, and Ignotus readily caught the body of his brother.
Dominique stepped down from the chair and watched Ignotus cling to his brother for dear life. She watched one tear roll down his cheek, but he quickly carried the body of Cadmus Peverell through the house and to his bedroom where he placed his body on his bed.
Dominique asked when he reemerged, "You aren't taking his body back?"
"Not yet," he replied. He sucked in a deep breath, placed his hands on his hips, and stood up straight. In that moment Dominique saw the man he truly was beginning to shine through. "I need to tell my mother first. Without the entire village knowing. And Tyrion..."
Dominique wanted to cry at the mention of the boy's name. The boy who no longer had either of his parents.
"This will crush him..." whispered Dominique in fright.
"He can't know," Ignotus suddenly blurted. Dominique blanched, looking to him for further explanation. "Not yet at least. He cannot know how he died. That he took his own life. To know his father willingly and knowingly left him would destroy the boy."
"But how do you expect him to not know that he committed suicide?" asked Dominique.
Ignotus pondered the idea, scratching his head and pacing about the small entry hall. "We leave his body here. For now. And we send Tyrion away. For the time being."
"Ignotus..." moaned Dominique. "Are you sure that's the best thing to do?"
She didn't know what happened to the child of Cadmus Peverell. All of the stories involving the Deathly Hallows had left out such details. She didn't know if Ignotus had already set off down the correct path or if she should interfere or not; however, not knowing the decided fate for the boy made her more inclined to think only of his well-being and fairness to the boy. How was it fair to send a child away from his home to hide the truth that his father had committed suicide? Was it the right thing to do? She didn't know, but she trusted that Ignotus knew what was best for his nephew.
Ignotus bit the nail of his thumb. "Is it the morally obligatory thing to do? No, it is not. The morally correct thing to do would be to sit Tyrion down and tell him of his father's death, but it has only been weeks since Antioch's death, and we can still see the pain of his uncle's death that follows him around. Imagine what the death of his father would do to him, Dominique. He isn't ready. He is just a boy; he isn't ready to handle this. Not yet. We send him away, and we tell him when we know he can tolerate it."
"Where will you send him?"
"To Wiltshire to be with Lord Pellinor. He is an old family friend. He and my father were lifelong friends. Tyrion is approaching the age at which he should begin his apprenticeship. He will just start a year early. Lord Pellinor will understand our predicament." The idea seemed more and more plausible to Ignotus as he thought more about it. He knew Lord Pellinor would willingly take in Tyrion as long as they needed. Despite this, he intentionally left out Lord Pellinor's daughter, his betrothed.
Dominique nodded. Even if it wasn't right thing to do, she knew it was ultimately the best thing to do for Tyrion.
She watched him move about the house. He grabbed the chair and put it back where it belonged at the table. He discarded the rope, and lastly he noticed something small and black on the floor where the chair had been. He bent to further distinguish it, and he pursed his lips in surprise, picking up the Resurrection Stone. He assumed it had fallen out of his brother's grasp in his last moments. He showed it to Dominique, and she swallowed her sadness.
She could see an idea coming to be in Ignotus' eyes. The light in them grew significantly, and he looked to her in questioning. She finally understood just what was going through his mind.
"Should I...?" he asked, uneasy.
Dominique grew rigid with being asked such a question. She knew what Ignotus meant by it; he was asking if he should use the stone to speak to his brother. If the stone truly recalled those from the grave, she would have immediately said no, but she knew how the stone worked. She had heard the story from her uncle; they would appear as ghosts and could never truly be recalled. She decided to give him this piece of advice.
"Nothing can truly recall those from the grave. They can't come back, Ignotus, but the stone will allow you to speak to them again. The decision is yours to make," she advised.
He nodded in understanding, and with that in mind, his palm closed over the small black stone, and he closed his eyes. Dominique watched the scene unfold before her. She watched the space in front of her, empty and dark, suddenly become lit with the presence of the recently deceased Peverell. When Ignotus opened his eyes, he fell to his knees at the sight of his brother.
"Cadmus..." breathed Ignotus in pain, "how could you?"
"Brother," spoke Cadmus. His voice was different; it wasn't deep of all the emotions he had previously held, whether they be love and happiness, or anger and pain. "Leave me be."
"Not until you answer me," declared Ignotus.
"Drop the stone, Ignotus!" demanded Cadmus.
The intensity of Cadmus' words sent a rush of pain to Ignotus' heart. Why was his brother so desperate to leave him? They both knew this would be their last time to speak to one another. Did Cadmus really wish to end their brotherhood like this?
"How could you do this?!" Ignotus demanded to know. If that was how Cadmus was willing to play, then so be it. "How could you leave me?! How could you leave Mother? But above all! How could you leave Tyrion?!"
"Stop this, Ignotus," said Cadmus.
"Tell me why! Just tell me why," Ignotus moaned.
"Life without Seraphine wasn't a life at all," answered Cadmus finally. "You will be a far better father to Tyrion than I ever could have wished for myself, Ignotus, but please...Do not tell him what I have done."
Dominique could tell Ignotus was fuming with anger. How could Cadmus do such a thing and then ask so much of him? Despite their decision to already do as Cadmus asked, she could tell he was appalled.
He still nodded, though. "I will not," he replied. "I will send him to Lord Pellinor's, where he will learn how to handle a sword before he goes to Hogwarts in two years."
"Thank you, Ignotus," said Cadmus calmly. "I do love you. All of you. But I am happy now. I am with Seraphine. Please do not blame yourself or anyone else. Give the stone to Tyrion, but do not tell him of what it can do. Leave us be in our afterlife, and we will see you again one day."
"I will," promised Ignotus. He prepared himself to drop the stone, to let Cadmus fade away from him forever, but he stopped himself at the sound of Cadmus' voice.
"Yes?" asked Ignotus, looking to him in questioning.
"I do love you, Ignotus," Cadmus reassured him.
"I love you too, brother." And with that, Ignotus let the Resurrection Stone fall from his hand, the presence of Cadmus Peverell forever fading with it.
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