Chapter 5 : Petit RÍve
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Author's Note: Colloquial translations of the French are as follows (in sequential order):
"Pretty little girls need diamonds. Let me spoil my grandchilden." - Mamie
Doudou - blankie
"Come sit by the water with me." - Fleur
Renardeau - fox cub (little fox)
"Mom, you smoke?" - Dominique
"We needed a socialite in the family." - Mamie
She knows it’s not on purpose, but Dominique is born into a life of decadence. Her father’s profession earns a sizeable salary, and her mother’s line dates back to Versailles. They live modestly, but she knows.
Every year before Victorie’s birthday ball, Dominque, Maman, and Victoire meet Tata Gabi and Mamie in Paris on a hunt for the perfect gowns. They shop until their knees ache, they dine at Le Cinq and Epicure, and – to their mother’s protest – she and Victoire each get a new piece of jewelry. “Jolies petites filles devraient avoir des diamants. Laissez-moi gâter mes petites-filles.”
There’s also the whole my-sister’s-birthday-is-commemorated-by-a-ball bit.
Dominique asserts her independence early.
At three years old she makes it clear that while she will participate in ballet, she will NOT be wearing pink.
At four years old she becomes a vegetarian, and refuses to give any explanation as to why.
At five she floos to Granddad’s with her doudou, a backpack full of shorts, and a diamond bracelet on her wrist. She announces that Victoire’s toys take up too much space, so she lives at the Burrow now.
When Bill arrives to retrieve her an hour later, he’s shockingly calm. “I live in a house with three French women. This is just another Wednesday.”
She takes it as a compliment.
She prefers English to Français. This is an important distinction because Victoire prefers the latter, and it drives Maman mad when they argue in both.
Dominique thinks Maman always takes Victoire’s side because of it.
After a particularly terrible row while Papa’s away breaking curses, Dominique storms from the cottage towards the bay. Her mother calls her name from the doorway but she refuses to go back.
She stays outside for hours throwing rocks into the water. She’s standing shin deep when she realizes the waves are coming in harder, and have risen to her waist. Just as she gets worried, one crashes over her little head.
Dominique thinks she’s being pulled to sea when her body is hoisted above the foam. Instead she is dragged backwards. A heavy arm locks her in place by her torso until she feels solid ground again. Her mother’s hair clings to Dominique’s cheeks as she plants kisses. She keeps asking if she’s all right.
Dominique struggles in her arms. She is both afraid and angry still, and doesn’t know what that means. She asks her mother what does she care—she only loves Victoire.
Fleur was rarely physical with her children. Firm, of course, but never rough. She grabs Dominique’s chin so hard it might bruise, and holds her face steady – locks their eyes, blue to blue.
“You mad child! Are you stupid? Your heart is my heart. If yours does not beat, I die! Do you understand?” She does not wait for a response. Dominique is pulled back into a tight embrace, and carried into the house.
Two days later, her father returns. The girls are sent to their rooms. Later, she hears her mother sniffling outside her door. Her father’s muffled voice: “Let me talk to her.” The door opens, and he comes to sit beside her on the bed.
“Did anything eventful happen while I was away?” She is silent for a long time.
“I made Maman mad,” she whispers. Papa lifts her onto his lap, tucks her loose hair behind her ear.
“You made Maman scared. And sad. This won’t mean much to you now, but I hope you’ll remember when you’re old enough to understand. Once, you were just a dream. You see, when our family started, there was war. When Victoire came, it still lingered in the air. But you, you were born unburdened with those memories. That makes you different from all of us; it makes your spirit free. Free spirits are a lot to handle sometimes, but it makes you special. It means Maman loves you like she can’t love anyone else, not even Victoire, nor me. You’re her miracle. Don’t you doubt that for a single moment.”
She never does again.
Dominique loves to play dress up. But, her options for playmates are limited. Victoire is too busy chasing Teddy, who chases Freddy, who always tries to break things. There is only James, so they strike a deal. He lets her dress him as a “man about the town” and she assists him on his “missions”.
Her favorites are when he wants to play undercover auror, because then they get to do both.
They’re probably the closest out of all the cousins, which is both unexpected and strangely fitting.
Hogwarts is a land of unfulfilled promise.
Her marks are fine (not good nor bad); her friends are fine (mostly James’ really); she supposes the castle has an ancient charm.
Years slip by like seasons, or trains. When she tries to recall them later there’s mostly blur.
Fourth year, on a dare from James, she dyes her hair lilac. Maman goes mental when she sees at Christmas.
That’s the year she has her first cigarette, and becomes distinctly aware that boys look at her strangely in the common room. She stands in front of the mirror at night examining the new landscape of her body. Her cheeks are slimming. When did she get so tall?
She’s not a fan of the boys per se, but she likes being a rebel, and she feels most rebellious when she sneaks around the castle at night with the older ones. It’s daytime though, when Tenison Wood first notices her. He sees her from the astronomy tower, smoking in the window of the owlery. Or, that’s what he tells her the night she kisses him for the first time.
They’re not dating. She doesn’t love him. But she does like the way he makes her body feel. So, she learns to sneak around the castle at night for very different reasons.
James is the only one she tells. He’s not a fan. He makes her promise to be careful.
She spends the summer before sixth year at her grandparents’ chateau in the south of France. Victoire and Teddy offer to let her stay in London with them, but she wants the sun and quiet.
The first time she gets sick it’s late June. She chalks it up to the gravy with dinner from the night before. She’s almost certain Mamie still makes it with meat, no matter how much she protests.
On the fourth day, with little Louis’s hand trying to hold back her hair, she wonders about her last period. She spends the day in bed, faking a stomachache. She thinks back to her last night at Hogwarts, about the annual seventh year “final party” in the dungeons.
She and Tenison hadn’t spoken much that year. She’d let her hair grow back to its natural blond, and Tenison became very focused on his N.E.W.T.s. There hadn’t been any animosity. They simply drifted apart.
But that last night, both eyes glazed, they’d seen each other across the cold stone room. She’d desperately wanted to feel his hands a final time.
She stands on the balcony connected to her room; she sees the Mediterranean in the distance. “Fuck” she thinks, lighting a cigarette. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
It’s early August and she still spends most days in denial. She smokes too much, to the point where Bill can smell it. Fleur convinces him to leave her be.
On the night when he leaves for Uncle George’s, after her grandparents are asleep, and Louis is tucked in, Fleur knocks on her door.
“Venez vous assis près de l'eau avec moi,” her mother calls.
“Maman, I’m tired,” she answers in English, standing on the balcony.
“Ma renardeau, s’il vous plait? I meess my heart.” It’s the childhood nickname that gets her.
They walk out onto the grounds, past the rose garden to the large fountain on the edge of the woods. They dip their feet.
“May I?” Her mother points to the front pocket of her shirt, where she keeps her fags. Dominique pales.
“Maman! Fumez-vous?” Fleur’s laughter floats as she pulls the silver case from the pocket herself. She takes one out and lights it with her wand, inhales slow.
“I, too, was once young. You ‘ave fantastic taste.”
“Merci.” Fleur laughs some more.
“Do not be afraid. Join me.” Dominique hesitates, but eventually lights her own.
“’Ave you made a decision about le bébé?” Dominique coughs. The smoke comes out in short bursts and her head whirls.
“Excuse me?” Her mother is silent. She whispers, “How did you know?”
“Your skin. I am also your mother. ‘Ave you?” Dominique is silent. “Ton Papa, he never knew I smoked. He does not understand it is very French. But it did not matter too long. The day I learned of Victoire, I quit. ‘Ow long ‘ave you known, renardeau?”
Dominique twists the cigarette in her hands. “About as long as you, I suspect.”
She is not prepared for the tears that come when her mother embraces her. At some point she apologizes; her mother admonishes her for doing so. When her sobs have subsided, her mother speaks.
“Come, now we rest. You must stop smoking or, we will take a trip to the city. Let me know what you want.”
The next morning, her father sleeps through breakfast. Pépère takes Louis fishing before dawn. It is just the three Delacour women seated at the table.
“Maman, I’d like to go into the city this week,” she says. Her mother squeezes her hand. She doesn’t miss the glance exchanged between Maman and Mamie.
In September, she steps off the Hogwarts Express and it’s all easier than she expects.
Dumbledore takes her payment for a night’s stay without hesitation. Before dawn she mounts her broom.
Broom to London, train to Munich, bus to Thessaloniki. She’s made arrangements with Cherie, her former au pair turned model, who has an apartment in the city.
When she arrives she writes three letters:
Addressed to James, the first is the longest.
For her mother, she pens a declaration of safety.
To Teddy, three sentences – “Take good care of Victoire. She’ll doubtless find some way to fault herself. Tell her it was never her job to look after me.”
She wants to feel afraid, to feel pain, to feel loss. But she doesn’t. All she feels is free, and it was so easy.
She plays dress up all day now, fashioning camera-ready outfits for the rich and famous. She flies on private jets to places with accented names – Mozambique, and Milan, and Ibiza. She sleeps with men named Aggelos, Nikolai, and João. At high noon she sips champagne at cafes with gold dust on the menu.
She returns for Freddy, and for Louis’s graduation – he is tall now, handsome, with hair the color of rose wine. She takes Zoé for a week in the summers, and spoils her beyond rotten.
She convinces James to purchase a muggle cellphone (it suits her lifestyle better than owls). He’s by far the one she speaks to the most. Besides her mother, he’s the only one she tells.
Her mother is understanding—does not fret over the minimal communication—and Dominique ruminates often on how strange and wonderful she is. Mamie is delighted, “La famille avait besoin d’une mondaine.”
When she finally receives a letter scribbled in her father’s handwriting, it has only three sentences. “You were born of wish and dream. It makes sense, I suppose, that your spirit took you there, far away from me. Nonetheless, be assured that you may always come home.”
That, she never doubts for a moment.
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