Chapter 18 : A Mother's Love
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When she felt his heart give its final beat, she knew he had died. Died beneath her, kissing her. With her lip still against his, she let out a cry, and she pulled him tight to her chest. She pulled her mouth away from his to cry into his hair. His form was limp in her grasp, and gravity took hold of his arms as they fell from across his stomach and to the ground.
"No," she cried out desperately, "no, no, no! Callum!"
She cradled his limp form against her body, aware that the front of her dress was being stained red with Callum's blood, but she didn't care. She felt Edmund grow still in sorrow beneath her, as was Ignotus for quite some time until he finally leaned forward. He reached out a hand, unsure of what to do, and he finally placed it against her arm, whispering mournfully. "Oh, Dominique..."
He then faltered. What was he to say to her? How could he comfort her? Yes, he had lost a lifelong friend, but Dominique...Ignotus didn't think he had been aware of just how much Callum meant to her. Seeing her cry like this was heart-breaking. He couldn't even imagine how she must feel. He had turned her down; he had told her he could never be with her, despite their feelings for one another, and then she had promised she would be happy with another man. And Ignotus was beginning to see the happiness that Callum and Dominique would have given one another. He saw that she was truly happy with him when she smiled at his name, how she blushed when she was with him. She had been truly happy; she thought she had found a man who would love her and take care of her after she had been rejected. And now that second man had been taken from her too.
Dominique continued to cry under Ignotus' touch, but she did not move. She did not turn into Ignotus' arms for comfort. Instead, she kept her hold on her fiancé’s body, crying into his hair.
Unsure of what to do and unready to ask anything of her, Ignotus rose to his feet, picking his sword up from where it lay on the ground. He turned to Edmund.
"Come, Edmund," said Ignotus solemnly. "We must kill the bandits Dominique subdued."
That seemed to catch her attention, for she jerked her head up from where she was crying and looked to Ignotus with curiosity. "Kill them? Why? I said I would wipe their memories."
"No," Ignotus shook his head, "we cannot wipe their memories. Memory charms today are not trustworthy, but even if yours are flawless, we cannot wipe them. They must be killed."
Dominique could tell Ignotus didn't like the truth in what he was saying. She could tell that he didn't want to have to kill anyone, but she still didn't understand why. "But why?!"
"Because what will they do when they wake up and have no recollection of what happened? What will they do when they see their four comrades that we have slain? They will be confused, lost, and they will be in search of answers. Bandits work in large numbers; they surely have a camp of more bandits nearby. They will return to their camp, and they will inform the others. And where does that leave us? Leaving them with wiped memories puts all of Godric's Hollow and witches and wizards alike in danger of the muggles and their cruel ways when it comes to magic."
Dominique grew quiet at that. She began to understand the point Ignotus was making, but she still had questions. Despite that fact, she took Ignotus' word for it. Any more questions and Edmund would grow curious as to why Dominique was so ignorant on the subject, so she knew it was smartest to keep quiet. She also had to put her trust into Ignotus and believe that he was doing the right thing, as she always did when it came to him.
So she fell into silence one more, and with her silence, she felt her tears return.
Ignotus pursed his lips and turned away from her. He directed Edmund in the general area of where Dominique had stunned the first bandit they had encountered, and Edmund set off in that direction while Ignotus trekked up the slope to the one Dominique had most recently stunned. When he reached the man, the poor muggle, unconscious and hopeless, defenseless as his death came, Ignotus breathed a heavy sigh. He hated this. But he knew it was what he had to do. He had to kill the muggle. For the sake of Godric's Hollow. For the exact reason he had just explained.
Muggles were crazed when it came to magic. More witches and wizards were being burnt at the stake as magic was growing more and more recognizable. Witches and wizards were beginning to have to lead a careful life of secrecy.
So he had to.
Ignotus apologized to the man for what he was about to do, and in one swift motion, he raised his sword above his head and sent it plunging into the man's chest.
He never liked the feeling. Of course he didn't. He had killed men before. Bandits such as these when he had been raided in various places. A few times with his brothers, another with Callum and Edmund only a year ago. He had killed before, but that was different. That was in defense for his life. It was kill or be killed then. This was different. He was unarmed and unconscious. He died without a fair fight beneath his feet.
He groaned inwardly, trying to not let it affect him as he pulled his blood-coated sword out of the man's back and made way for the next bandit to kill. When he and Edmund had taken care of them, they returned to Dominique, still on the ground and cradling the corpse of her betrothed.
Ignotus kneeled down next to her, knowing it was high time to move out of the ravine. They needed to take care of Callum's body and place it in the ground; he needed a proper burial before too much time had passed.
He didn't know how he managed it, but after so many deaths, he always found the strength to go on. He thought his father's death had crushed him, had obliterated his spirit and taken away all signs of ignorance from him. But he had recovered with time. The same had happened with Antioch and Cadmus. He thought he would never recover from the death of his brothers, and while every day was a battle, each day was slowly becoming easier and easier to deal with.
While he was pained by the death of Callum, like the many other deaths he had been through, he knew he would find the strength to go on.
So he pulled on that strength in that moment for Dominique, for he could tell she needed it most. He rubbed her back, pushing her curls away from her tear stained cheeks, and he encouraged her. "Come. We must mourn properly."
She finally nodded, and she opened up her arms, exposing Callum's body to the air. Ignotus crouched down and slipped his arms under Callum's knees and back. He hauled his body into his grasp, and he trekked down the slope of the ravine while holding his friend. When he reached the water, Edmund went to fetch Callum's horse, which had wondered off a ways, but when he returned with it, together the two men heaved Callum's body onto his horse and gently draped it across the saddle.
After his body was situated, Ignotus turned to look back up the slope to see if Dominique had moved at all. It appeared she hadn't. She was still on the ground in a ball, her knees pulled up to her chest and her face buried between them. Ignotus gave a sympathetic sigh as he made his way up once more to her.
He crouched down in front of her and encouraged her once more. "Please, Dominique," he whispered soothingly. "Let us return."
She swiped at her eyes, but continued to cry. When she made no movement to rise, Ignotus did to her just as he had done to Callum's body. He placed his arms against her back and under her knees, and he swiftly picked her up in his arms. Her arms went around his neck simultaneously, and she clung to him as he carried her down the slope. He could feel her tears wetting the folds of his tunic against his chest.
When he reached her horse, he placed Dominique atop of Fay. Once she was on her saddle, she sat upright, prepared to remain astride her horse without assistance. Then the men mounted their horses, and they made their way to return to Godric's Hollow.
The trip back was a silent and slow one, aside from Dominique's quiet weeping. She did her best to remain quiet and strong, but she found that it was too hard a task. She felt selfish and conceited in her thinking, but she couldn't seem to force those particular thoughts out of her head. The thoughts of being denied by Ignotus, finally feeling truly happy with the man she would marry, perhaps even infatuated with him, and then he had to be taken from her. Now what was she to do?
There was also a thought in the back of Dominique's mind, a question and a fear, of if the attack in the ravine was something Death had devised.
Ignotus hadn't encountered any strange incidents or moments that seemed particularly life-threatening, but they both knew that Death had a price for his head. There was a constant fear in the back of their minds as to when Death would strike again. He had seemed quiet over the past month or so, but perhaps this attack and Callum's death was Death's way of showing this was only the beginning.
Dominique couldn't help but fear for the many life-threatening moments ahead for Ignotus. There was no denying the fact that they were fast approaching a time when Ignotus would have to lead a life under the cloak.
After what seemed like ages, they finally arrived at Godric's Hollow. The streets were quiet, as most of the townspeople had fled to their homes after the bells had tolled. For this Dominique was grateful. She didn't need the whole town seeing Callum's body draped over his horse, nor did they need to see her melting into a pool of tears. As they travelled deeper into the village, Ignotus gave her instructions.
"My Lady," he said gently, "go home. You do not need to trouble yourself with what is to come. Edmund and I will take care of the rest."
Dominique didn't argue with him. She nodded, and once they reached the fork in the road, she took the one that led back to the Peverell house. She was thankful for the quiet streets and for when she reached the house. She led Fay into the stables and then entered the house. When she stepped in, she saw Jocosa sitting in a chair in the sitting room off to the side. Spotting her teary eyed friend, Jocosa immediately jumped to her feet.
She ran to Dominique's aide. "My Lady," she ushered quickly, "what happened?"
"Callum..." she moaned, shaking her head. "He...He didn't make it."
"Lord Conway has died?" asked Jocosa in a low and uneasy voice.
Dominique only nodded.
Just then there was shuffling from further into the house, and both the young women turned to face the newcomer. Eirene stepped out from around the corner, and she looked to them with great interest. She folded her hands together, his aging face kind and sympathetic in her expression.
"My dear," she began sweetly, her voice gentle and loving as it always was, "what ever is the matter?"
"Lord Callum Conway has died," answered Jocosa for Dominique, seeing that Dominique was in no state to speak any further.
Eirene's reaction was just as sorrowful as Jocosa's had been. She stepped forward and grasped Dominique by her arms, and she rubbed them in a reassuring fashion. For the moment, Dominique was grateful to receive such compassion. She had missed the touch and love of a mother, and now, when she knew she needed it most, she was grateful to have Eirene there. She felt herself tremble under Eirene's touch, and she tried to keep her composure, for she didn't know how Eirene would react to any further physical affection from Dominique. But she found that she couldn't hold back any more.
She gave one small cry, and then she fell against Eirene's form. Eirene gave a small start, but she immediately wrapped her arms around Dominique and patted her head.
"Oh, my darling," moaned Eirene as she held the young woman, "I am so sorry for your loss."
After moments of no sound beside Dominique's cries, Eirene turned her head to face Jocosa. She pressed her cheek into the top of Dominique's head as she spoke to their servant. "Jocosa, would you please start a fire in Lady Dominique's chambers? And perhaps some hot tea?"
"Of course, my Lady," answered Jocosa. She dropped into a small curtsy before scurrying from the room and to the kitchens to prepare the tea.
For many moments, Eirene and Dominique just stood there. Dominique clung to the older woman, and she savored the many ways in how she was so similar to her own mother. Her arms were loving and comforting; they were gentle and encouraging. She felt safe in them, just as she had always felt in the arms of her mother as a young woman. She didn't realize how much she truly missed her mother until that moment while she was in Eirene's arms.
There, in Eirene's arms, Dominique then felt a mixture of so many varying emotions come rushing forward. Emotions she thought she hadn't felt and wouldn't feel in 1234. She felt desperate for the arms of her mother, desperate longing for the comfort of her family; she felt her desperation to be with the ones she loved who would love her in return. In Eirene's arms, she started to realize that she did miss 2022 no matter how much she had denied it over the past four months.
Finally Eirene straightened but took Dominique's hand and led her to the stairs. She guided her up the stairs with her other hand at the small of her back and to her chambers. Eirene pulled back the covers of her bed and helped her into it. Dominique crawled into her bed silently and without question. When she was situated, she had almost expected Eirene to leave her. But she didn't, to which Dominique was pleasantly surprised.
Eirene sat on the edge of her bed, and she took Dominique's hand. With her other she brushed away her tears and pushed back her hair. Dominique closed her eyes to her touch and imagined they were the fingers of her mother. She missed her desperately, but in this moment, she was able to shut her eyes from the world around her and imagine they were truly hers.
"You have seen so much, been through so much," Eirene mused aloud as she continued to stroke her hair. "I cannot possibly understand just how much you are going through, but I know what it is like to lose a man you would have called your own. And I know you must miss your family dreadfully."
Dominique nodded, and she knew was receiving the love of a mother, but it just wasn't the same. She found herself blurting out, "I want my mother."
Eirene's hand did not even still in the slightest. She continued to console her and comfort her, and the corners of her mouth even pulled up into a smile. "I understand," she whispered, "and I am so sorry that you are in a seemingly impossible situation in ever seeing her again. I also know that nothing can compare or ever replace the love of a mother, and I may be no consolation, but I am here, my sweet."
Harry stood behind his desk in his office, staring blankly at the report he had just been handed by his assistant. He had read it thoroughly over and over again. He couldn't be reading it right, could he? He could have yet another blank Auror report. He didn't want to believe it. He groaned, rubbed his sunken eye sockets and collapsed into his large chair behind his desk, groaning.
Bill Weasley, after just watching Harry in careful silence, finally spoke. "Nothing again?"
"I'm so sorry, Bill," answered Harry in reply, his explanation for a 'no.'
He didn't understand. What were they missing? How could Dominique possibly have disappeared without a trace? Without a single sign as to where she went. She had to have left something, or there must be something that they could have traced. What did they miss in the analysis of her flat? What had they overlooked? These were the questions that had plagued Harry's thoughts constantly over the last four months, but after each run through of these doubts and questions, he had gone back and done a re-analysis of everything he had. And the same results would arise.
Bill looked to the floor in defeat. Like Harry, the four months in which his daughter had disappeared had taken a toll on him. He appeared weak and tired these days, with his eyes a dark blue and sunken. They both lacked sleep as they put their every breath into finding Dominique again.
"I don't know what else to do," said Harry slightly frantically. He looked to the many reports he had acquired since beginning his search for Dominique, all of which led to nowhere. "I don't know where to turn or what else to do."
"I know," said Bill kindly. "You're trying. We all know you are. I just don't understand...Where could she have gone?"
"I don't know," answered Harry sorrowfully, despite the fact that Bill had said it as more of a rhetorical question.
"She was always a quiet girl," Bill mused aloud. "I noticed it a long time ago. How she would always steal away to the back and go unnoticed. I don't know if she wanted to go unnoticed or not, but she did. Fleur and I could always tell she believed herself to be the odd one out...Harry, do you think she could have...chosen to leave?"
Harry looked appalled. "What?! No!" he gasped.
"It's just..." began Bill uneasily, rubbing the kinks in his neck. "She was, though. She was the odd one out. Fleur and I could see her when she thought herself to be invisible, and Merlin knows Vic must have been driving her insane with the wedding."
"Maybe she has always been the odd one out, but I don't think that justifies her reasoning to leave. If she did in fact leave. The blood in her room says differently though," said Harry.
He didn't want to believe that Dominique had left. He would have respected her decision whatever it may be, so he would have respected it if she had chosen to leave, but Harry liked to believe that Dominique would have left some sort of note instead of choosing to put her entire family through an endless agony.
"And I realize the blood says differently," nodded Bill in agreement. "I realize that. I guess this is just me trying to make reasoning out of where she could have gone. Wherever she is...I'm sorry if none of us ever stopped to make her feel like she fit in. I just hope that, wherever she is, taken by force or having chosen to leave, I hope she's happy..."
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