Chapter 17 : Mortal Wound
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First off, Iíve been asked if I know how many chapters may be in this story. The answer is yes. I believe I know roughly how many. I think right now the outline is looking around 35/40, give or take a few, depending on how wordy I get in some situations (sometimes I get pretty wordy, Iím trying to not have so many chapters verging on 5k words :P ). The next question is if we will see more of 2022, and the answer for that is yes as well! Iím working some 2022 scenes at the moment so I can share with you guys whatís happening with Harry and the search on the home front. :D
On another note, the Hufflepuff house over on the forums just finished its annual story awards called the Keckers! Lucky me, And Love Prevails was the recipient of quite a few!! And Love Prevails is the winner of the 2013 Most Addicting Story award, the Best Written: Other Ship award, and it is the runner-up for the Best Romance and Most Unique ship awards! So, all in all, four!! A huge thank you to ANYONE who helped this story reach that point! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I think thatís it! Thanks for all the reads and reviews, you guys! You really inspire me! Also a HUGE thanks to anyone who is a Hufflepuff on the forums who nominated or voted for this story in Hufflepuffís Keckers competition! Thanks SO MUCH!
And Iíll conclude there! (Wow, sorry that was so long!) Enjoy! (Despite the sadnessÖ)
gorgeous chapter image by (sol) @ TDA
She jumped up from beside Callum and whipped around to see two bandits running for them. She felt the brief sensation of panic, but then she remembered her wand in her hand. She didn't quite understand what Ignotus' deal had been about muggles and using magic. She could simply wipe their memories, so she didn't think twice about it.
She raised her wand to one of them, shouting yet again, "Stupefy!"
The one closest to them was lifted into the air and violently struck a tree. He slid to the ground, unmoving and unconscious. Upon seeing her actions, the second bandit raised his sword to Dominique, and like the other she had taken down in the river, this one seemed disgusted at the sight of magic. He declared just as the other had, "Witch! Witchcraft!"
Dominique was aghast. Never had she encountered muggles who knew she was a witch, and if they did, they were never so cruel. She had truly believed that neither of the bandits would harm her, for she was a woman, and if the bandits wanted nothing more than to perhaps steal their silver and gold, then why would they hurt her? But that perception of things had faded when she saw the viciousness each man had taken on upon seeing she was a witch. When they saw her wand in her hand, something else seemed to replace that chivalry act to not harm a woman. All decorum was gone, and it no longer mattered that she was a woman. No, she was strictly defending herself for her life against a muggle.
The bandit began to hurtle himself down the steep slope, and before Dominique could raise her wand to him, he collided with her. He lunged onto her, and the two of them went tumbling onto the ground. Dominique grunted as they twisted and rolled a fairways down the slope. She could hear Callum's shouts of horror; she could feel his fear for her in his voice. She knew Ignotus had seen her as well, for his voice was the loudest above all else. But he couldn't come to her aide; he was still fighting off his bandit in a sword fight.
When they stopped tumbling down the ravine, she was lucky enough to be on top. She was smaller and lighter than he was, so she was able to quickly scramble to her feet and move much more swiftly than he. She ran the distance back up the slope to Callum, and she dropped to her knees, frantically running her hands over the leaves and scattering them in search for her wand.
"Come on, come on!" she begged. "Where are you?!"
She was aware of Callum begging her as he leaned against the rock. She could see him out of the corner of her eye as he struggled to move and pull himself up into a standing position to defend her. He begged of her, "Go, Dominique! Just go! Get yourself to safety!"
She shot him a stern look over her shoulder, her eyebrows pulled together in a tight declaration. "I am not leaving you!"
He grit his teeth and cursed under his breath. She could hear the bandit scrambling back to his feet again, working his way up the slope. She knew she wouldn't find her wand in time, and so when her eyes scanned Callum's body and came to land on his sword, she was struck with an epiphany. There was no other choice. She was defenseless, her wand blending in with the dirt and leaves. So she lunged towards Callum, and she swiftly pulled his sword out from around his belt.
"No!" he demanded, trying to snatch the blade from Dominique. "Do not! You cannot handle a blade! Run, Dominique! Do not fight him!"
In the heat of the moment, she found herself almost demanding silence from Callum. That he stop treating her like a hopeless child, but she realized that he knew no different. He, unlike Ignotus, didn't know where she came from or what she was capable of. And so she knew she couldn't retort at Callum in such a way, so she bit down on her lip to keep her comments to herself.
Instead, she kept moving swiftly. She had never picked up a sword before. She had had no reason to. She had only watched Ignotus strap his about his waist, watched him put it away nightly, and seen him and other men occasionally wield one in Godric's Hollow. She knew they had to be heavier than they looked, but she hadn't expected this. The tip of the sword fell against the ground as she grew accustomed to the weight, but then she found herself lifting the thing up off the ground and holding it between both hands just as the bandit charged at her again.
The man stopped briefly to laugh at her, for he thought of how foolish the sight appeared. A young woman wielding a sword who appeared to have no experience at doing so whatsoever.
"Don't doubt me," she dared as she lifted the sword.
"Very well, witch," snarled the bandit before he made a gigantic lunge for her.
Dominique found that instinct took over. She raised the sword, prepared for the blow, and the blades came together with a crashing sound. She took a step back when he made his second swing, but she found that she maneuvered Callum's sword to meet the blow once more. Their swords crashed and scraped together as she continued to step back, positioning herself swing after swing and ducking after his swipes through the air. She could see Callum squirming desperately on the ground, begging for the bandit to leave her be.
But Dominique couldn't pay attention to Callum. Not now. She was doing this for him to begin with. To protect him.
They continued to fight, sword against sword. Dominique felt herself tire from the heavy sword in her grasp. She could feel the sweat on her brow and beading against her chest. From down the slope, she saw Ignotus send his sword plunging into his bandit's chest after one particularly impressive blow. The man sank to his knees, and Ignotus temporarily went with him, for his grip was tight on his sword currently lodged in the man's chest. Ignotus grit his teeth as the man fell, and then he pulled his sword clean out of the man's chest. The bandit fell to the ground in a heap, and Ignotus looked up the slope to see Dominique. His expression grew terrified, and he wasted no time in jumping into the river and wading across it.
She focused back on her task at hand. She could hold off the bandit for a few minutes longer. She knew she could. Just until Ignotus came to her aide. She used that incentive to push herself further, to find the strength to keep fighting even as her arms grew weak. When the man made one particularly large lunge forward, Dominique jumped off to the side and was able to spin around and step down the slope to position herself behind the man. He fell briefly onto the ground at the sudden surprise of her quick movement.
She knew it wasn't fair: what she was about to do. But how was this at all fair? This man was fighting her! A woman. This was already an unfair fight. So Dominique took the opportunity as she saw it.
She had never killed a man before, but it appeared that she would do so now.
She raised Callum's sword high above her head, and in the next moment, she plunged it into the bandit's back. He made a few horrifying gurgling sounds, and then he went limp against the ground.
Panting, she whipped back around to face Callum again. She saw Ignotus pause in shock, horror, and surprise, and his mouth fell open. Both men were staring at her with expressions of mixed emotions. Both men blanched, but Callum held a look of admiration even. She fell to her knees beside him, ready to finally tend to his wounds and help him any way she could.
"That was...Impressive," gasped Callum, struggling to continue his speech as his mouth continued to pool with blood. "Now, please, Dominique. Go. You should not be here. Get to - "
"Your wand," she demanded of him, interrupting his pleas. She had heard it from him before, but hearing it over and over again wouldn't change anything. She wasn't leaving him.
"My left pocket," he answered, confused.
Dominique crawled over him and pulled his wand from his pocket. She held it tightly in her grasp and turned to look up the slope. She pointed it in the general direction of where hers had disappeared, and she gave Callum's wand a wave. "Accio."
Her wand soared up from the ground some distance away, and she caught it readily. When she did, she turned back to Callum, sliding his wand back into his pocket and preparing herself to tend to him with her wand.
She finally let her gaze come to rest fully on his injury. Dominique felt herself grow sick and frantic. She had never seen anything like this; the extent of the wounds or injuries she had seen had been simple accidents. Jinxes that give you boils, enlarged noses, bloody noses, minor splinches. But nothing like this. Nothing where something was protruding from another's body. An arrow at that and currently lodged in his chest. She bit her lip in fright.
What was she to do, anyway? Where did she even begin? She didn't know how to tend to such an injury. During her three years of training, sure, she had received some lessons on how to heal injuries, but nothing was as major as this. Besides, half of the things she did know of, the supplies didn't even exist yet. There was no Essence of Dissany yet. Nothing.
She felt her stomach fall into a bottomless pit as her fear grew. Could she even save him...?
She couldn't lose him. She knew it was selfish to think in such a way, but what would she do without Callum? She couldn't lose him.
"We're going to take care of you. I promise. You're going to be all right," she blubbered quickly, not even realizing that she was ranting.
Ignotus watched from a short distance away, his expression holding deep sorrow. He knew what was inevitable; his father had died from the same wound. He felt pity for him in his heart for Dominique, but the deepest of sorrows for his friend. He slowly approached the two on the ground and fell to his knees on the other side of Callum. Callum turned his head to Ignotus, his lines pursed as he tried to manage a smile for his friend. Edmund finally approached them as he ran up the hill, having defeated the bandit he had taken on.
After Callum's weak smile, he turned back to Dominique. He watched her move frantically over him, her expression contorted with determination to save him. She was fumbling around with her wand held over his chest. He caught her hands and brought them to his cheeks.
"I am dying, my love," he said quietly and sternly. "I am afraid I cannot be saved."
Tears fell from her eyes, and she shook her head in adamant refusal. "Don't say that," she whispered. "I'll make you better. I will."
She refused to listen to him. She pulled her hands away from his cheeks and grasped her wand. She gave it a wave and began to levitate Callum's body back down the slope and to the horses. Ignotus rose to help Dominique, moving alongside Callum as he was levitated down the slope.
Callum momentarily accepted Dominique's help, but he could feel his strength fading by the moment. He knew he didn't have much time left. So he shook his head and reached out for one of them. He found Ignotus' wrist, and he turned to his friend.
"Please, Ignotus," he whispered desperately. "Lay me down."
"I'm going to save you!" Dominique interjected.
Callum closed his eyes to the pain and tried to accept his fate. "Please," he moaned again, "I know I am nearing my life's end. Allow my last few moments to be peaceful."
Dominique didn't wish to give up on Callum, but she could feel Ignotus' eyes on her. She met his eyes, and despite the sadness in them, he nodded his agreement with Callum.
Finally accepting that they would allow Callum to die, Dominique let out a sob and fell to her knees. Ignotus took over the levitating and placed Callum's body on the ground as gently as possible. Ignotus and Edmund sank to the ground beside him. Callum turned his gaze to Ignotus, and after he had mustered his courage, he asked of his friend, "Ignotus, please. The arrow. Take it out."
Ignotus' eyes grew wide. Why? Why cause Callum any more pain that needed? He knew he was dying; he surely didn't have much longer, and so he wanted to spend his last moments in agony?
"You sure?" he whispered.
"Certain. Get that blasted arrow out of the way. I want," he moaned in pain, pausing to wince loudly, "to be held by my love as I die."
Ignotus made a deep swallow and nodded. He etched forward, pushing his hair out of his eyes so he could focus on the arrow protruding from Callum's chest. Bracing himself, he gingerly ripped apart Callum's tunic so the fabric was free of the arrow's path, and then he looked to his friend and gave him a reassuring look.
"Brace yourself," instructed Ignotus as he gripped the thin wooden arrow in his palm.
Callum nodded, closing his eyes. He reached out a hand to Edmund, and Edmund took it kindly. Callum wanted to take Dominique's, but he knew the pain he was about to feel would be excruciating. He knew his group would be tight, and he didn't want to hurt her, so he turned to Edmund instead. With his free hand, he placed his palm against the ground and dug his nails into the earthy ground, preparing himself.
"I'm ready," he answered as he clasped Edmund's hand.
Ignotus bit his bottom lip as his grip on the arrow tightened. With his free hand, he flattened it against Callum's chest, ignoring the blood that immediately soaked his hand. He sucked in a deep breath of courage, and in one swift movement, he yanked the arrow free from Callum's chest.
Callum jolted about, his grip on Edmund's hand growing impossibly tight, the nails of his other hand digging into the dirt, and he let out a horrid scream. "Ahh - FUCK!"
"I am sorry!" burst Ignotus as freed the arrow. He held it in his grasp and inspected the thing. The arrow had been embedded deeper than Ignotus had expected, for a large segment of the wood was coated in Callum's blood, the tip of the arrow dripping with it. Ignotus threw it off to the side.
With the arrow no longer in the way, Dominique moved forward and wrapped her arms around Callum's body. She pulled him into her lap despite the blood that was now rolling freely from the open wound. His blood soaked his tunic and pooled in their laps. He seemed to struggle briefly to speak, for his mouth was full of blood, but he turned his head to the side and let it roll out the corners of his mouth. Dominique reached for his already ripped tunic and tore a piece of it off that wasn't yet stained with blood.
When Callum turned his head back to her, she wiped the blood from his face. Callum turned his gaze to Dominique as she held him, and with a shaking hand, he reached up to wipe her tears with his thumb.
"My betrothed, ever the optimist. Your determination to refuse my life's end is touching."
"B-But you can't leave me," she hiccupped. Her tears continued flow steadily, running down her cheeks, seeping between her lips, down her chin, until the dropped onto Callum's cheeks. She didn't want to lose him. How could he leave her? "Please, Callum. You can't leave me."
"I am sorry the day will not come when you and I will be husband and wife, but know that you have made me a happy man just by knowing you would have been mine," he whispered as he stroked her cheek.
Dominique let out a small cry and turned her face into his palm, kissing the inside of his hand just as she had done the night of their engagement party. When she pulled her lips away, Callum turned to Ignotus. His hands fumbled around briefly as Ignotus watched him, unsure of what he was trying to grasp. Finally his grip latched onto Ignotus' tunic, and he pulled him close. He held Ignotus close and whispered into his ear, his words for Ignotus and Ignotus alone.
"Love her as I would have loved her. Love her enough for both of us, my friend," he whispered.
When Callum released him, Ignotus pulled away in surprise. His brow furrowed, and his mouth fell open. He looked into his friend's eyes, silently questioning him. Did he really mean it? Callum seemed to understand his questioning surprise, for he gave a reassuring nod.
Then Ignotus swallowed down his surprise and nodded.
"I already do," he whispered, a declaration.
"Then I can be at peace," he sighed in reply and turned back to Dominique. He took her hands into his own and held them to his chest. Neither seemed to mind the amount of blood that coated their hands. He gave her hands a reassuring squeeze, something to show her that he wasn't afraid of where he was going. He was ready.
Dominique stifled a cry and leaned over him. She kissed him delicately, not giving a care in the world that Ignotus and Edmund were watching. She had every right to give her betrothed one final kiss goodbye before he died. She kissed him deeply, yet careful of his wound, but Callum didn't seem to care, for he pulled her closer. He kissed her desperately, refusing to let go. He savored it. Her kiss, the soft feel of her lips, her smell, her sweetness.
This was how he wanted to go. With Dominique kissing him like this.
He pushed his mouth against hers just a little more, giving her everything he had left. Then she felt a release of air against her mouth as they kissed. His body slackened. She felt his heart beat beneath her palm once more and then never again.
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