Chapter 1 : I'm Not An Angel
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I’d been fighting with Dominique, I remember, about who was going to use the shower first. After Dom had unreasonably locked herself in the bathroom and refused to come out, I’d started banging on the door angrily. The next thing I knew, the Christmas tree in the corner was on fire and Popster had shot out from underneath it, yowling and screeching and rolling over the carpet. My parents had rushed in then, and tried to put the fire out; but it was strong, too strong for their Aguamenti charms to douse it.
After it was confirmed that Popster would survive, albeit without a tail, my parents took me into the kitchen to sit me down and tell me of how physical Veela genes fade quite quickly – which is why I’ve strawberry blonde hair, a queer mix of Papa’s red and Maman’s silver that looked like neither and both – the mental genes take a long time to fade. Veelas have always been quick to anger and dangerous during their fits of rage, with magic shooting out of them. My magic, they’d told me, was far too strong for a normal girl my age but was only such when I was angry and had no control over it, similar to the traditional Veela. Ergo, I needed to learn to not get angry no matter what, or I would harm the people around me.
They tried to get me to recite a mantra, or count to ten before I spoke. More often than not, this resulted in my conversation partners giving me odd looks and slowly backing away from me, which would of course make me even angrier and force me to spend longer and longer times counting slowly.
The next method was to visualise something happy. I tried, I truly did. I think that if I had been using that effort to make a patronus I would have succeeded. But going back to the moment when I got my Hogwarts letter didn’t work to contain my anger. The door next to the target of said anger – Isla, for just telling her new boyfriend my issues about staying calm without telling me first – exploded, revealing Peeves scrawling rude words all over the Charms classroom. Isla ran away as I stared at my shaking hands.
“Inhale deeply through the nose, count to five, and exhale slowly. It’s a method that’s always worked for me,” Professor Corner said sympathetically, patting my back. “It might feel a little strange at first,” my Head of House continued, “but once you get comfortable it can work wonders, it really can,” he told me earnestly. I nodded and walked out. “Good luck with your OWL revision, Victoire!” he exclaimed after me.
There was no difference that I could see when I used Professor Corner’s method of staying calm. Doors exploded, windows shattered, chairs collapsed, blackboards screeched as they ripped each other apart. And in the middle of that destruction was me, closing my eyes and sucking in enough air to last me a lifetime.
During my OWLs, I catapulted an examiner up to the ceiling of the Great Hall, where he stayed for six hours before being able to get a spell through my magic and come down.
Writing a ‘stress diary’ had always seemed an odd idea to me, but with hardly any other options left, I turned to that. It seemed like a pale reflection of my parents’ talks. Maman had Papa to talk to; he was extraordinarily patient with her as she vented about something or someone that had annoyed her, and she told me that she always felt calmer afterwards. I’d tried the same with Dominique at thirteen, but as younger sisters do, she showed me hooded eyelids and said “So what?” Later, I’d tried talking to Teddy as well, but although he had listened to me carefully, it wasn’t a particularly calming experience. I managed to make it through three entries before giving up and throwing the diary at the wall in frustration. It exploded halfway there, falling to the ground in a smoking mess.
After my NEWT exams there was a small time of respite when I was too tired to get angry at anything and there were no incidents. I didn’t know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing then, because there was nothing to distract me from the odd looks people gave me, the fear with which my own sister and brother would cringe away from me when my face began to redden. It hurt like a slap when they did that, and I could see the remorse on their faces when they realised what they’d done, but the worst thing was that I couldn’t blame them.
You made a mistake
on the day that you met me and lost your way.
You saw all the signs, but you let it go
You closed your eyes
NEWT results were usually something to celebrate about, and I could see some of my classmates doing just that. Even if your results weren’t much to celebrate, they went out and found some reason to get properly drunk; the most common one I’d heard was that ‘school was over’.
I’d fled the school as soon as I could, walking through the streets of Muggle London until I found an establishment my friends had conditioned me to: a pub.
When I’d walked in, a group of guys had wolf-whistled at me. That was the kind of thing that slid off Dom’s back as easily as water off a duck, but I found a seat as far away from them as possible, next to the bar, and closed my eyes to try counting to ten. It was just some stupid guys. I’m not a dog, my mind grumbled. I tried to quash the thoughts. I don’t come if I’m whistled for. I’d appreciate it if they talked to me. When I opened my eyes again, another group of guys had come in and were staring up at the TV screen reverently, where some guys were kicking a ball around in some Muggle game.
Sitting inside now, wedged against the bar by a group of loud, enthusiastic football fans who were alternating between yelling at the television and letting out loud caterwauls that could have been a song, I nursed a cup of something and tried to keep my eardrums from splitting.
“Sorry, are you okay?” one of the guys asked me, apparently just having noticed that I was between him and the bar.
“Yeah, fine thanks,” I replied with a wave and a small smile. “What are they saying?” If one was going to be stuck between an inanimate bar incapable of conversation and a group of guys, one of which seemed quite nice, I reasoned, one ought to make the best of a bad situation.
He looked mock angry at me, putting his hand over his heart. “Saying! We’re singing.”
One of his companions took that moment to yell at the TV. “NO, YOU BLOODY TURD, PASS TO YOUR LEFT –” The little man on the screen of the TV disobeyed his fervent instructions and passed to his right, where the ball was promptly intercepted by the other team. Everybody in the pub groaned.
“And coaching,” the nice guy said. I laughed, but the sound was drowned out by what could only be called howling. At first, I didn’t notice the nice guy speaking until he tapped me on the arm. “I’m Jack,” he told me.
“Victoire,” I replied. At his raised eyebrow, I explain. “My mum likes to play up her French roots.” He laughed at this.
“Better than my mum,” he replied. “My last name is Miles, so she wanted to name me Walker. I’m so glad my dad talked her out of it.”
“Walker Miles?” I asked, before laughing. “That has got to be the best name ever. It’s such a pity your dad stopped her.”
“For you, maybe,” he muttered, then grinned at me. I grinned back, and his mates wolf-whistled. I closed my eyes in annoyance as Jack made a rude gesture at them, and there were some hoots of laughter.
“Vic, what’s this?” Dom asked, brandishing a small piece of paper around in her arm. I turned over and snuggled up a little more inside my bed. Most of the times I interacted with people were in the morning, when I was sleepy and too lethargic to get angry and let my magic go astray. That was the safest time.
“I don’t know, I can’t see it,” I mumbled. Dom shoved it in my face and I felt a small flash of annoyance that I quickly pushed down. One, two, three, four, five. In front of me was a piece of paper with some numbers on it. “Hmm? Oh, some nice guy I met at the pub a couple of days ago gave me his number.” I searched my memory. “Jack. Jack...someone or other. Miles. Hmm. Good night.”
“It’s morning,” Dom told me. “You should probably wake up.” I rolled over, and there was a pause as Dom looked thoughtfully at the paper. “Was he nice?”
“The Jack someone you met. Was he nice?”
“Yeah,” I mumbled. “He told me about ballgames. Um, football, I think.”
“I’m going to set you up with him.”
“I’m going to call him and set you up on a date with him.”
“Okay,” I murmured. Dom had always been a romantic; she had gone out with so many guys hoping to find the perfect one, and I was inevitably the one to clear up the mess and let her cry on me when it didn’t work out. A lot of the time, she was the perfect matchmaker as well, for everyone but herself. Footsteps pattered out of my room.
“WHAT?” I shrieked. CALM DOWN, my mind yelled at me. ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE. It wasn’t helping, though.
“Uh – should I come back later? Vic, what’s wrong?” She started to come closer to me.
“I DON’T KNOW!” I screamed at her. My hands were shaking again, and when I looked up, Dom’s face was contorted in something that looked like pity. I hated that.
I couldn’t explain myself. My bed wasn’t made properly, so I’d tried to redo the sheets but my hands were shaking so badly I’d ended up ripping them and not having my wand to mend it. I couldn’t find my wand, although I knew it was in my room somewhere I couldn’t find it and it was driving me crazy. I hated losing things.
The window next to me shattered as though I’d thrown a stone at it, and I realised that I was clenching my jaw so hard I was getting a headache. Then I noticed the room was empty.
“Jack says he can meet up with you on Friday, if that’s convenient for you,” Dom’s voice comes from somewhere outside the door.
“Yeah, sure,” I said distractedly. “Thank you, Dom.” There was no reply.
My wand was in my clothes drawer. I threw it at the wall in frustration before going to pick it up.
Why can’t you control yourself?
“Hey!” Jack said with a grin.
“Hey yourself,” I smiled. I’d had something close to a panic attack before I’d left the house, imagining everything that could go wrong. What if he wasn’t as nice as I remembered? What if I lost control and made the cafe explode? What if – ?
Dom said she’d never seen me so worried over a guy before. I told her that I’d never gone out with a Muggle in a Muggle environment and I was perfectly justified to be worried. She’d just grinned at me in the obnoxious way that younger sisters had.
“I still can’t believe you’ve never heard of Starbucks before,” Jack said, shaking his head. “Where did you live, under a rock?”
“No, with my Mum’s amazing cooking skills,” I replied. “We hardly ever ate out.”
“I lived with my mum’s six cats,” Jack said. “And the sad thing is that it never even occurred to me that was unusual. I thought everyone had six cats, you know?”
“I have a cat,” I volunteered.
“One crazy cat lady to another,” Jack grinned.
I should have told you to leave
‘Cause I knew all along you couldn’t handle me
“Are you going out now?” Dom asked as I came home. “Cause Jack just came by and asked for his girlfriend, and then he got really red and stuttered and mumbled something about you.”
“I’ve no idea,” I said. I’d fallen over a carelessly placed power cable in a cafe today, and the person who’d been charging their laptop had refused to even apologise or move the cable out of the way, calming that it was my fault for not looking where I was going. I’d almost lost it then, taking deep breaths as I walked away. It didn’t stop the chair the person was on from collapsing though, and the magic which had caused that had then caused the laptop to short-circuit.
Jack had watched the whole exchange worriedly, but so far I’d managed to keep my temper around him.
“You should tell him, you know,” Dom said. “It’s obvious that you care for each other. You don’t have to tell him about the magic, just about the anger management issues. That’s the fancy name Muggles have for it.”
“Hm,” I said. I hated being treated as though I was a problem, and I hated that treatment was actually justified. My fists clenched hard enough for my knuckles to crack and my nails to dig into my palm, causing little half-moons to decorate my red skin.
But you’re hard to resist
When you’re on your knees
“I don’t know,” I said. Jack looked understandably shocked and I lowered my eyes. “I don’t – don’t know.”
“Vic?” he asked, confused. “What’s wrong?”
“I would say it would be best for you to stay away from me,” I said, “but that sounds ridiculous even in my head.” I tried to give him a smile, but it turned out weak and I couldn’t look at him.
“What? Why?” I avoided looking at his face, tracing patterns on the leg of my pants instead.
“I have, I think you call it anger management issues? I have that.” Merlin, how awkward was this? I’d meant to break it off, clean and fast because I was scared I’d end up hurting him somehow with my magic if we kept on. But then he’d asked me to be his girlfriend just as Dom had predicted and I was wallowing in hesitation.
“Well, I sort of know,” Jack said. I looked up at him, shocked, and he continued. “It's kind of obvious, you know. But I don’t think it’s too bad, and I don’t care, I really don't,” he said earnestly. “I promise, we can do something about it and I won’t – I don’t know, judge you for it. I haven’t judged you for it. I think you’re amazing.” He kissed my hands then, pulling them up from my lap to press his lips to them, and I was weak.
I was weak, and I melted.
Hate being that wall
That you hit when you feel you gave it all
I keep taking the blame
When we both know that I’ll never change
I moved into Jack’s flat soon after we get together, but it immediately became so much harder to hide my magic. Walls began to look as though someone had smacked a chair into them, windows smashed and various items of furniture broke no matter how hard I tried to stop myself from getting angry.
Trying to fix things with magic successfully hid most of the destroyed objects but caused Jack problems with the many and varied Muggle items in his house. Showers began to block, the TV acted up, his objects (somehow they all started with an ‘i’) short-circuited.
“Maybe I should leave,” I whispered after he’s come home from work to find me sitting amongst a forest of broken crockery which once made up his plates and glasses. “I can’t control myself well enough.”
He shook his head, carefully pulling me from the ground. “Don’t be silly,” he said, hugging me, ignoring the little pieces of glass in my clothes. I pulled back and studied his face. He looked so tired and resigned to these ids of incidents now, and I hated myself for it.
“What started it this time?” he asked. I shrugged, tired.
“Me,” I told him. “I’m so sorry.” Those words seemed so insignificant now, so meaningless in the light of what I kept on doing. He tapped my nose with a small smile.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “We’ll clear this up in no time.”
“I’ll go out tomorrow and buy you some new glasses.”
“Take your time,” he murmured. “God, there’s glass on your back. Are you cut?” he asked. He’d always cared for me, more than perhaps even I had.
“No,” I told him. “You should probably get away from here actually, I don’t want you to get cut feet.”
He tugged me away gently towards the living room and began to talk about his day at fancy restaurant he worked in to put himself through an engineering course at some university or other.
The next day while Jack was at work I mended the plates and cups, slowly placing them back in the cupboard.
It became easier and easier to control my anger when Jack was around. It became harder and harder when he wasn’t with me. Sometimes he could pull me from my anger just by putting an arm around my waist and whispering soft, meaningless words in my ear, inviting me to talk to him, to let it all out.
And I did.
I finally understood what Maman meant when she said that talking to Papa helped her more than she could say because Jack got me like that, he understood what I meant when I couldn’t express myself properly.
We worked together, on counting to five which still seemed to remain the best method for me to calm down before anything odd started happening. (Secretly, though, I didn’t count to five; I just pictured him.) It worked, and slowly the flat started to look not so bedraggled. Jack looked less tired as he came home, and I began to relax more.
Of course he knew that something was up with me; how I could smash things, how I could be so purely destructive when I was angry. And I knew that he knew. But he waited, easily willing to let me tell him when I wanted to, content not to ask.
“Do you want to go to the park?” I asked Jack when he came into the living room. I was elated at not having broken anything for a week and he had a couple of days off work for some Muggle holiday I’d never heard of.
“Okay,” he answered with a smile that matched mine. I took his hand and tugged him out the door, ignoring his protests of wanting to change into something slightly less casual.
There were ducks being fed by a small family when we got to the grassy fields. I claimed the remaining bench and pulled Jack down next to me, watching him carefully as he smiled.
I wanted to remember this forever, the two of us just sitting on a park bench doing nothing, talking about nothing in particular, watching little kids throw bread at ducks.
“That family’s giving us odd looks,” Jack said. “I think it’s because I’m in pyjamas.”
“You’re not in pyjamas,” I said, leaning my head against his shoulder. “You’re in casual clothes.”
“I wasn’t aware there was a difference.” I laughed at him.
“Of course there is,” I said, raising my head to kiss him.
“Victoire, cherie, I ‘ave not seen you in so long!” Maman exclaimed as she swooped down on me, kissing me on both cheeks. “’Ow ‘have you been?”
“Good,” I told her. “I’ve bee–”
As usual, of course, she overrode me. “You look ‘appy, so much better than before. ‘Ow is the boyfriend? Jack, was zat ‘is name?” She pronounced Jack in the French way. Jaques.
“Happier? Me?” I asked her. She frowned a little at me.
“But yes! You look much ‘appier. I asked you already, ‘ow is Jack?”“Jack is,” I paused slightly, “good. He’s good.” Maman gave me a knowing smirk as she pulled me inside and gave me a mug.
“I knew zat was eet. ‘E ‘as been ‘elping you, no?”
“He has,” I acknowledged. The only person who knew me better than Jack was Maman and she was displaying that talent to its rather alarming full.
“Zat eez good,” Maman said, giving me a cup of tea and sitting down opposite me. “You are much ‘appier now, I know zis.” I blushed, and she smirked again. “Will you stay for lunch?” she asked. “Bill will want to see you when ‘e gets back from Greengotts.”
“I thought he said he was going to retire?” I asked, surprised.
“Bah! Zat man barely knows ‘imself,” Maman snorted. “Of course ‘e’s not going to retire, ‘e loves working at zat place.”
“Um, are you on your period?” the guy on the TV asked. The girl opposite him forgot her anger and giggled. I tipped my head back and closed my eyes, trying to count to five as I felt the anger grow inside me.
“Can we switch channels?” I asked Jack, waving my hands at the TV. He took the remote and just switched the TV off instead.
“Hey, Vic. It’s okay. Do you want me to count to five with you?” he asked, hugging me closer to him on the sofa. “Do you want to talk about the question?”
“That question,” I said, “is so insulting. It’s as though we can’t be angry if we’re not on our periods or something. We have no right to be angry if we’re not on our periods, and if we are tetchy because of our periods then everything we say is credited to the hormones. Excuse me, I think you’d be pretty damn grumpy if you had blood flowing out of your nether regions.”
“I’m sure I would,” Jack agreed pleasantly. “It always sounded so unpleasant.” I frowned but leaned my head against him.
“My mum got really bad stomach cramps,” he said, rubbing my shoulder soothingly. “She’d make me do everything while she was on her period.”
“Oh my God,” I said, sitting up and feeling some of my anger evaporate. “I should do that.” Jack groaned.
“Please don’t,” he muttered, but he was smiling, obviously pleased to end the scene without me smashing something as I so often did.
I’ll tear you down
I’ll make you bleed eternally
Can’t help myself
From hurting you when it’s hurting me
“Why can’t I control myself, Jack?” I asked, looking at him pleadingly as I sit on the edge of the bed. “Am I just weak?” But then, I did know I was weak. I’d been too weak to break it off with him, although I was certain that choice had been a good one in the long run.
“No, you’re not,” he said soothingly. “You’ll get better, you can do it.”
“Better? You mean it’s like a sickness? It’s not a sickness!” I said, feeling my anger rise again. “My mum has the same problem, you know that!”
“I never meant it was a sickness, Vic,” Jack said, looking puzzled. Maybe it was the anger built up for the past few weeks – I thought I’d been doing so well, but apparently the anger hadn’t gone away.
“It sounded like it!” I said. Jack tried to come closer to me and I looked up at him, still frowning. There was a bang, and Jack was thrown against the wall like a doll. “Jack!” I screamed, forgetting my anger and running over to him.
When I got to him, his eyes were open again and there was blood trickling in a small stream down the back of his head. There was something in his eyes as he looked at me, something new and heartbreaking. Fear.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered again and again, over and over until he put his hands over my mouth to stop me.
“Not your fault,” he said, trying to sit up. I didn’t realise that I’d flinched away from him until he tugged me closer to him. “Vic, stop it. Not your fault. It’s not.”
“It is.” I was sobbing openly now, and he was leaning against the wall. “I can’t control myself. I’m a danger to everyone around me. I’m so sorry, Jack.”
“You’re not a danger,” he said, pulling himself up slowly. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t go to help him. “You’re anything but, Vic, you have to believe me. You’re an angel.” I shook my head.
That night, I could barely bring myself to look at Jack’s face. I knew I should have broken it off when I first intended to. I had gone my whole life like this and never truly appreciated how dangerous I was.
It’s for the best, I reassure myself as I creep out of the house like a thief in the night. It’s for him.
And that thought gave me the courage to leave.
I don’t have wings
So flying with me won’t be easy
Cause I’m not an angel
I’m not an angel
Do not fall in love with people like me. I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth. I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave, you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.
- Caitlyn Siehl
A/N - Hey there! That quote up there ^^ is the One Quote that the One Quote Challenge is based on, and doesn’t belong to me in any way. The song lyrics scattered through the piece come from the lovely song I’m Not An Angel by Halestorm, which I would recommend to everyone because it’s an absolutely amazing song. I don’t own it in any way, shape or form.
Do you guys have any thoughts on this piece? I’d love you to feed them to the little grey box down there, hmm? ;) You know you want to.
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