Chapter 16 : Ambushed
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- Year 2022 -
Victoire Weasley stood at the window of her sister's bedroom, staring off into the distance. She didn't know how long she had been standing there for, nor did she care. She found that she was mindlessly watching the waves rush up to the shore a distance away. She felt as if that was all she did these days. When no one was around or she found herself getting lost in her thoughts or emotions, she stole away to Dominique’s bedroom and sought solace in it.
Victoire felt empty, and she had felt that way for the past three and a half months. She had felt as if a piece of her was missing since her parents had sat her and Louis down one afternoon to inform them that Dominique had gone missing.
There was still yet to be any sign of her whereabouts at all. Victoire had been told what was found in her sister's flat. She knew her uncle had found it with liquid and a decent amount of blood on the floor. That fact terrified her. Was her sister okay? Was she hurt? Was she being held captive or being tortured? Or worse, was she already dead?
The disappearance of her sister taught Victoire many things. She hadn't realized just how consumed she had been with her wedding to Teddy Lupin until Dominique was gone. Victoire couldn't help but let her thoughts dwell on what she could have done differently to show her sister that she truly cared. She should have noticed Dominique's empty and careless voice the moment she heard it the day she disappeared. She should have known that her wedding planning was taking away from her sister's feelings.
Victoire had consumed herself, and she had taken her sister for granted. Now she regretted every moment of it.
She could still recall the last conversation she had with her, even though it was approaching four months now. Victoire had been perched at the table in the dining room, going over napkin patterns as she so often had. She had asked for her sister's opinion, and Dominique's voice had been empty of all care. Not in the cruel way though, Victoire believed; in fact, she sounded hurt for being so overlooked.
Then her sister had risen and abandoned the room. Victoire had demanded her return but not because she wanted her to stay. But only because she needed a second opinion on the lace napkins. And they were napkins, for crying out-loud! They didn't matter! Not one bit. And Victoire hated herself for not realizing that sooner.
"Vic," a voice said behind her. “I knew I’d find you in here.”
She gave a jump, her hand moving to her throat in surprise, and she whipped around to see who the new-comer was.
"Oh, Teddy," she sighed heavily in relief. "You startled me."
"I'm sorry," he said kindly, and he approached her. "That wasn't the intention."
Victoire turned back to look out the window as her fiancé approached her. She felt him settled behind her, his warm and comforting arms wrapping around her and pulling her close into his chest. She settled there, temporarily feeling her guilt diminish and to only be left with her sorrow.
"Is Harry back?" asked Victoire after moments of silence.
"Yes," Teddy whispered into her ear. He kissed the side of her head. "I was just speaking with him. Nothing again, Vic. There's no sign of her."
Victoire felt her eyes fill with tears. She closed her eyes to hide them from the world, and she begged for the tears to not come. She had already spent countless days crying for her sister's return. She hoped and prayed every day that Dominique would return safely, and she was ever-hopeful. She wouldn't lose faith in her sister's safe return. She couldn't; faith was all that was keeping her going now. Her disappearance was approaching four months now, though, and Victoire's wedding was right around the corner.
With the affirmation once more that there was no sign of her sister, there was something she had to do. Something she had been thinking about for a long time.
"Teddy?" she asked uneasily.
"Yes, love," he answered curiously.
"I've been thinking..." she began, "would it be all right if we...postponed the wedding?"
Victoire was surprised when she felt Teddy's cheeks lift against the side of her head with a grin. She didn't know why he was smiling at a time like this, but perhaps he had anticipated such a request. She added on quickly, though, for she didn't want him to get the wrong idea. "Don't get me wrong. I want to marry you more than ever. It’s not about you, but Dominique - "
"Vic," he cut her off and turned her to face him, "I understand. I had been debating asking you the same thing. I know how much you love your sister."
She nodded, grateful for his understanding. "It would just feel so wrong. To get married without her there. I need my maid of honor to be there."
At her words, she felt herself break after trying for so long to hold herself together. She felt her tears escape from her eyes and roll down her cheeks. She buried her face into Teddy's chest to restrain a loud cry.
Teddy sighed in sympathy and he patted the back of her head lovingly.
"I know," he cooed. "So we'll wait. And she will come home, Vic. She'll come home to us."
It was a few weeks later Dominique strolled along the streets with Jocosa and Ignotus. They were having a fine outing one lovely afternoon, picking up random things here and there that they needed back at the house. The picking up of things had been Dominique and Jocosa's doing over the past month, but because it was such a lovely day, Ignotus decided to join them as well.
Dominique and Jocosa were standing at a table shop, smiling and giggling over the fabrics they were inspecting. Ignotus stood off to the side, leaning against one of the wooden pillars and looking particularly bored. Dominique noticed this and couldn't help but smile and giggle. Men were hardly any different been 1234 and 2022 in this aspect, she realized; men still hated to shop and look for the more girly things in any year.
"My Lord," she twisted her head and peered to him with a chuckle. She watched him kick a pebble and fumble around with the hilt of his sword strapped to his belt. "Do such fabrics not interest you?"
He gave an exasperated huff, but smiled. He shook his head in tease and turned back to face the busy streets on such a fine day.
"Oh, my Lady," sighed Jocosa as she held up a white fabric with beads and silver thread stitched onto it, "you would look absolutely beautiful in this fabric."
"Yes, it is exceptionally beautiful, isn't it?" asked Dominique in awe as she fingered the fabric. It was definitely one of the better fabrics she had seen. She had never been a girl who was particularly fascinated with fabrics or choosy when it came to them. She knew that much in her many hours of pointlessly helping Victoire choose hers for her wedding, but now that she was looking for the fabric that her wedding dress would be made of, she saw the fascination. She began to partly understand Victoire's dilemma in finding the perfect fabric.
Jocosa leaned into her friend's side and giggled under her breath so Ignotus would not hear her address his ward in such a way. "You will be such a beautiful bride, Dominique!"
"Thank you, Jocosa," beamed Dom in return.
They set down embroidered fabric and inspected the next. When Dominique unfolded the lacy fabric, she gave a start when the sounds of bells began to toll. She dropped the fabric and whipped around to look about the streets. Jocosa jumped in fright as well, and the both looked to Ignotus.
"What is that?!" asked Dominique.
She had never heard bells ringing in Godric's Hollow. Not even on joyous occasions such as the Strathclyde wedding party or her own engagement party. She had never heard them before. They seemed to be coming from the tower at the gates of the village. They made a low and rumbling sound as they were struck blow after blow by a gong.
Ignotus even seemed to give a start. He turned to face the front of the village, a ways down the street, the source of the bells. He breathed in surprise. "The bells of Godric's Hollow."
It was strange. She never even noticed the village had bells. They certainly weren't there in 2022; clearly their use was no longer necessary in 2022.
"What does it mean?"
She watched him grip the hilt of his sword, at the ready, and looking startled.
"It means there is a threat outside the village," he answered, and he jogged away from the table and to where the horses were tied to a post nearby.
Dominique and Jocosa quickly followed behind him, watching the rest of the townspeople scatter like flies. Women grabbed their children by the hand and rushed them from the streets, bolting to their homes. Men rushed for their horses.
"A threat?" gasped Dominique. "Ignotus, what's going on?!"
Dominique was awaiting his answer when the sound a horse's hooves on the cobblestone streets emerged. They were quick; the horse was running, and there was clearly a sense of urgency in it. They whipped their head to source to see Edmund a ways down the street and urging his horse to run faster. When Edmund spotted Ignotus and finally reached him, Edmund demanded his horse to stop. The horse reared up on its back legs and neighed in protest. Edmund's face was stricken white with fear, and he was panting.
"What has happened, Edmund?" Ignotus demanded to know.
"Bandits! In the ravine!" gasped Edmund in between breaths. "Callum and I! We were raided!"
"Callum?!" gasped Dominique, suddenly worried for his safety. If Edmund was here and looking so afraid and Callum was absent, what did that mean about Callum? Was he okay? She blurted her question, despite the inconvenience. She didn't care if it was inconvenient to ask at such a time. He was her betrothed, and his safety was the most important thing. "Is he all right?!"
Edmund set his jaw tight and looked to Dominique. His expression was painful as his horse trotted back and forth. "I am afraid not," he answered. "Callum has been mortally wounded."
That was all Dominique needed to know. She abandoned Jocosa's side and raced forward. She ran past Ignotus, startling him. She untied her horse from the post and mounted the creature. She sat astride Fay, completely neglecting side-saddle for the moment. This was a matter of grave importance. She couldn't waste time struggling to remain atop her horse while side-saddle.
"Dominique!" blurted Ignotus in horror. "What do you think you are doing?!"
"I'm going to help him!" she shouted.
Edmund and Jocosa watched the two in fascination. Ignotus ran to her horse's side, trying to grab the reins from her hands. "A ravine full of bandits is no place for a woman! Edmund and I can handle it."
"I don't care if you can handle it or not, Ignotus! Callum is to be my husband, and he's hurt! I'm going and there's nothing you can do about it," she argued sharply.
Dominique knew Ignotus was only thinking of her safety, but she wasn't worried for it. She was a skilled dueler. She had undergone three years of training to be an Auror; she still had many wizarding talents that Ignotus had yet to see, for there had been no need of them. She could take care of herself in such a situation.
Ignotus grit his teeth in frustration and ran his hand through his hair. His jaw was set in a stern expression as he caught her eye, and he gave her a heavy look. "I forbid you to come with us."
Dominique actually gave a laugh. She couldn't be told to do anything. Not when someone she cared about was in danger. She gave him a stern look to signal that her stand on the situation was final.
"He's my fiancé! You can't stop me, Ignotus, and I'd like to see you try," she breathed heavily in defiance. Then she kicked up her heels, and her horse reared up in surprise. Then they set off at a sprint down the streets.
"Dominique!" Ignotus shouted after her. As he watched her continue to flee down the streets and to the exit of the village, he swore and ran to Caspian at the post. "Dammit!"
He untied his bow and quiver of arrows form his saddle and slung the thing across his back before he hauled himself up onto Caspian and turned to Jocosa. "Jocosa, go home and inform my mother of the situation. Stay there with her and await our return."
Jocosa bowed in obedience. Then Edmund and Ignotus were racing after Dominique. Their horses caught up quickly, and together, the three of them charged out of Godric's Hollow, past the horrified townspeople and past the front gates where the bells were still tolling.
Dominique knew the general area of the ravine. She had never been directly to it, but she remembered passing it on her initial ride to Godric's Hollow after arriving in 1234. Ignotus caught up to her quickly, and once he reached her side, he looked to her as they continued to bolt across the plains and towards the trees.
"Dominique!" he called to her as his cape billowed out beneath him. He swiped his hair out of his eyes with one of his hands. "You must be careful! These bandits are muggles! They will not fight with magic. They result to harming and getting their way through sword fights and bows and arrows!"
This didn't scare Dominique in the least. In fact, it actually explained some things for her. It made sense why a wizarding village was quick to scurry off the streets when there was a threat of muggle bandits nearby. Dominique knew of how witches and wizards were treated in the early centuries; they were shunned, thrown into jail, or even burnt at the stake for witchcraft.
But this didn't change anything for Dominique. It actually reassured her that it would be an easy fight. She forgot how much she missed the thrill of something. Suddenly her three years ofAuror training came rushing back to her. All she had to do was stun a few muggles, and all would be well. Then she could reach Callum and help him however she needed to.
"Easy!" she called to him over the sound of the wind rushing past her. As she turned her head, her strawberry blonde curls beat against her cheeks. She turned her head back to the path before her, her eyes alive with the desire to protect Callum. "A few harmless muggles. I can manage."
"You know not what you are up against!" roared Ignotus in frustration.
"I'll be fine! You don't even know half my skills as a witch, Ignotus," she replied. Which was true. She had still much to share with Ignotus involving her skills as a witch. She and Ignotus hadn't sat around and shared with one another what curses and enchantments had been developed in 1234 and in 2022, but she knew that her arsenal in dueling had to be at least slightly greater than Ignotus' because surely there were plenty of dueling spells that had been invented after 1234.
She possessed a knowledge of magic that Ignotus couldn't even fathom just yet, and she still had much to show him.
She ignored any of his further demands for her to not go into the ravine, but even as he shouted frustrated obscenities, his horse continued to lead them across the plain and through a thicket of trees, Edmund close on their tail. When Dominique knew they were fast approaching the ravine, she pulled her wand from her bosom and held it at the ready, the reins of Fay in her other hand. She felt her senses reach full alert as she scanned the space behind the trees for any potential bandits. At least she wouldn't be knocked off her horse by a jinx; that was lucky enough. She had seen worse during her training. She was ready for this.
The ground was growing steeper by the second as they lowered elevation, entering the ravine. The ground, littered in leaves, was growing wetter and darker as they traveled further in. They must have been nearing the river.
Just when Dominique began to grow restless from no sign of the bandits, she heard Edmund shout wildly from behind them, a warning. "ARROW!"
Dominique's head whipped around to see a thin arrow whizzing in their direction. Ignotus guided his horse closer to Dominique's, and he reached a hand over and forcefully pulled Dominique's head low down to her saddle. She grunted from the pain, but she knew he was only protecting her. He ducked as well, and then there was the noticeable sound of the arrow whizzing over their heads. When the coast was clear, Ignotus sat up straight once more, and he yanked his bow out from across his chest, and he reached back into the quiver for one of the arrows. His fingers were quick to secure one, and even as Caspian ran, Ignotus spotted the faintest movement of a brown cloak. So, he quickly shut one eye, pulled back on the string, aimed, and he fired away.
The arrow whizzed out of his grasp, through the air, and Ignotus knew the arrow had struck its target when he heard the shout of a man from behind the trees above them.
Ignotus shouted to Edmund after his success. "How many ambushed you?!"
"Seven!" yelled Edmund over the sound of the leaves crunching beneath the hooves of the horses. "At least!"
Dominique turned her head away from the two men just in time to see a bandit racing across the ravine in front of him. She knew he was running to gain a higher position to let loose an arrow on them, but Dominique was too quick. She didn't care if they were muggles or what the consequences would be. She raised her wand, pointed it square at his chest, and shouted.
The bandit fell to the ground in a heap, his bow and quiver tumbling down the steep hillside of the ravine. Ignotus' gaze shot to her quickly in surprise, and he shouted in dismay at her.
"You can't use magic against them! They are muggles!"
"Why not?! We'll wipe their memories!" she shouted as they continued to bolt through the ravine. There was still no sign of Callum. She continued to scan the hillside for any sign of him.
Ignotus let out another long slur of curse words, but she couldn't pay attention to him anymore.
They rounded a corner within the long ravine, and then they saw him. Callum, lying hopelessly on the other side of the ravine up the slope. Dominique knew he hadn't been wounded in that exact spot, for his bow and quiver lay far below him, close to the bottom of the ravine, and there was a trail of blood from where his weapons lay to where he had positioned his body against a rock. He was clutching his chest, sweat beading around his forehead, and he was panting, clutching an arrow that protruded from his chest.
Dominique immediately felt tears cloud her vision. Her fiancé, a man she had come to know in such a short time but had always seemed to invincible, so bold and carefree, so daring and courageous. Now he lay on the ground, using a rock to shield his body with an arrow in his chest.
Dominique urged Fay to a halt, and she jumped down from her horse, running across the river. She didn't care about the water or getting wet. She waded through the knee deep water, desperate to reach the other side. She clutched at her dress, still holding her wand tightly in her hand. She heard footsteps up the riverbank, and her head shot to the source of the sound, and there was the third bandit, attempting to cross the riverbank on a few rocks.
He spotted the wand in her hand, and his eyes grew wide. He took on a menacing look and, with his bow already in one hand, he reached behind his back to pull an arrow from his quiver.
"Witchcraft!" he snarled.
So, that was his problem. Dominique grimaced at him; she had never held distaste for any muggle whatsoever, but in that moment, a fury against that man ignited in her, and she lifted her wand, pointing it at the man's chest.
"Stupefy!" she shouted, and he was knocked unconscious and thrown into the shallow river before he could place his arrow against the bow.
Dominique continued to wade across the river, feeling the skirts of her dress grow heavier with each passing second as they absorbed more water. She fought against the weight, ignoring Ignotus' protests coming from behind her along the riverbank. He was demanding her to return to him, but of course she didn't listen. She kept on pursuing Callum, and she knew Ignotus was temporarily thrown off her case when two bandits jumped out from behind a few trees, slid down the steep ravine slope, and quickly engaged Edmund and Ignotus in a sword fight.
The clanging, scraping, and crashing sound of sword against sword sounded from behind her. She finally reached the other side of the ravine, and the dirt and leaves along the ground clung to her wet skirts as she climbed up the slope and to the large gray rock that her fiancé was lying behind. She came upon the other side of the, and upon seeing her, Callum gave a start.
He jolted, but his panic seemed to temporarily diminish, knowing it was only Dominique before him and not a bandit. But when he realized that it was indeed in fact Dominique - Dominique, his betrothed, in a ravine with bandits nearby - and he understood the unprecedented danger, he began to panic for her. Even with the arrow protruding from his chest, he reached for her skirts and yanked her to the ground.
He hissed, blood sputtering from his mouth as she spoke to her. "What in Merlin's name are you doing here, Dominique?!"
"I came to help," she said gently, and she reached out and cupped his cheek in her hands.
Her gaze moved to the arrow, feather tipped, and deep within the middle of his chest cavity. Blood stained his tunic where the wood of the arrow had pierced through.
"No, no, no," he moaned over and over. He groaned like a stubborn child at her words. "You should have stayed in Godric's Hollow! What the bloody hell were you thinking?! It is dangerous here! I will not have your safety put at risk because of me! You fool, Dominique! Edmund went for Ignotus, and that would have been help enough."
Dominique shook her head at Callum. Oh, the men of 1234. Something she knew she certainly didn't prefer in 1234 to 2022 was how dainty and useless women were considered. She could take care of herself, and even more that, she was good in a fair fight. But these men wouldn't even stop to consider that. She knew their caring for her weighed in heavy on their thought process, but neither Ignotus nor Callum seemed to stop and acknowledge the fact that she could manage and it was her choice to come.
"Shhh," she encouraged him, ripping the bottom of his tunic and using it as a handkerchief to wipe the blood on Callum's chin that had rolled out of the corners of his mouth. She felt tears in her eyes, tears for Callum's safety, and she tried to think positively. "Stop talking. Just relax, and everything will be fine. We're going to get you safely back to Godric's Hollow, a-and then we'll patch you up. Good as new. And it will all be fine. You can scold me then, how about that?"
He smiled weakly to her, and he shook his head in dismay. "My love," he sighed, "ever the optimist. I am dying, Dominique. I shall not make it back to Godric's Hollow."
"Don't say that," she blubbered as her vision grew even cloudier.
She saw a blur move for her and knew it was Callum's hand when she felt it against her cheek. He stroked it gently. She didn't even mind that he was wiping his blood against her cheek. She did her best to refrain from crying, but all thoughts of sadness quickly fled her mind when she felt Callum abruptly grab her and shout.
"Dominique! Behind you!"
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