The moment nine-year-old Dominique Weasley opened her brand new broom, she cried.
This was really nothing new, considering she cried about everything. She cried when her twin brother, Louis, took the last piece of toast at breakfast. She cried when she got lumpy mashed potatoes at dinner. She cried when she and her old sister, Victoire, fought and her hair got pulled. She definitely cried night after night when she had hoped and hoped to wake up and see that her parents had changed their mind about finally getting her a broom, only to find out they hadn't—nor did they intend to.
But this time, she was crying happy tears...or rather, happy sobs. She's been waiting obsessively for three years for this moment, ever since her Aunt Ginny had taken her, Louis, Victoire, and Teddy Lupin—a family friend—down to the pitch where she had previously played Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies Quidditch Team. It was there that her aunt had let Dominique ride her first real broom; and though she didn't know it then, this simple gesture would be one that would forever change Dominique's life.
It was an instant memory in the making for Dominique: the sight of Teddy—-who was probably about nine and well old enough to properly ride a broom-—barely getting the thing off the ground. When it was Victoire's turn, she couldn't even get it that far; on Louis's, he had started crying before the broom was even handed to him. However, the same couldn't be said for Dominique. She had been excited by the prospect, mostly given the fact that the Hollyhead Harpies was an all girl team. It inspired her not to be scared. After all, if they could do it, so could she.
So, she had walked over to that broom, all three and a half feet of her, and while her Aunt Ginny steadied her for balance, the entire group watched as Dominique not only got the broom off the ground, but sat on it for—-she counted—thirty-nine seconds! It had seemed like an eternity! She'd even gotten a "wow" out of the Hollyhead Harpies current Seeker, who had been idly watching and chatting with her aunt nearby.
It was in that moment that she fell in love with flying; from then on, she was obsessed. She dreamed about flying, she day-dreaming about flying, she talking about flying, she read about flying...It became an obsession that soon geared itself towards Quidditch, which, in turn, birthed an entirely new obsession; one that would fuel most of the things she wanted do in life. As far as she was concerned, life revolved around flying and Quidditch. There was no convincing her otherwise.
She had just needed a broom, which up until five minutes ago had posed a rather large inconvenience to her love of flying.
With careful, almost surgical precision, she picked up her brand new broom in her hands, now inspecting every inch of it. A beautiful, shiny, Firebolt 2000. Sure, it was a slightly older broom, but she had never really expected and brand new, top-of-the-line speed broom. Her mother would have never let her ride it. No, a Firebolt was good. It was better than good. It was perfect.
It was hers.
She tore her eyes off the broom for a moment to see the reactions of everyone standing around her. They had barely been in France for ten minutes—having just arrived to spend two summer weeks in the village outside of Marseilles where her mother grew up-—when their grandparents had presented her and Louis with belated birthday presents. Dominique had no idea what Louis had been given because the moment she had seen the shape of her wrapped package, she had known exactly what she was about to receive.
And she had screamed.
She had screamed loud enough that Victoire, who had been lazily observing the festivities from beside her, clamped her hands down over her ears.
"Oh, Mama, you did not…" said Dominique's own mother as she, too, now seemed to realize exactly what the package was. Her face looked as if she was anticipating an entire new world of things she had to worry about.
Dominique didn't care what anyone thought, though; she had torn into that wrapping paper and screamed again the moment she detected even the smallest hint of broom bristles. This was also the moment tears came; big heavy sobs—the kind where you almost have to remind yourself to breath or else you'd likely pass out onto the floor. She stared back and forth between her now most prized possession in world and her grandparents, who were beaming at her. From beside them, her father was smiling, clearly enjoying his daughter's enthusiasm, while her mother looked a mixture of happy and equal parts terrified at the idea of her youngest daughter on a broom.
"So, cool," said Louis as he peeled back the remaining wrapping paper from the broom's handle.
"Very cool," said Victoire, who had just hesitantly pulled her hands down from her ears. Both she and Louis looked a little jealous at the gift, which only made Dominique more ecstatic. She knew immediately that they weren't jealous of broom itself, considering neither of them really wanted one, but rather the fact that Dominique had gotten such a treasured gift; a gift she'd begged and pleaded with her parents over for ages. Sure, they had allowed her a toy broom to play with, but that wasn't the same thing. She had wanted a real one. She had wanted one so badly that—-to prove to both of her parents how serious she really was—-she had practiced day and night on her toy broom in an attempt to show just how much she deserved a real one. She had taken her toy broom with her everywhere—on errands with her mum, to meals, while she did chores, all around the garden, and even to sleep. On several occasions, she tried to take it in the bath with her, but her mother felt the line needed to be drawn somewhere.
Of course, while her parents realized just how dedicated she was, they still didn't feel comfortable with her having a real broom at such a young age. It was considered dangerous, and the response Dominique had often received after asking time and time again was, "You can get a real broom when you're at least as tall as the broom itself...or when you turn ten. Whichever comes first."
Thankfully, her grandparents didn't seem to share that opinion. Her grandparents were rational and fair. Her grandparents were amazing…
"Here, let me see it, Nicki," said her father, plucking the broom up from her grip to inspect it. The second he did, Dominique felt almost naked. She didn't want him to disappear too far with it.
"I don't zink I 'ave ever 'eard little Dominique so vocal," said her grandmother, who looked more than thrilled to have been the giver of a gift that received such a reaction.
"Oui," agreed her grandfather, walking over to kiss his granddaughter on the cheek. "She iz usually as quiet as a mouse."
"You only say that because you've yet to hear some of the arguments she and Vicki get into," her father joked.
"No…?" said her grandfather skeptically, looking at both Victoire and Dominique. "You two do not fight, do you? Why would such sweet, beautiful girls 'ave anyzing to fight about?"
Victoire smiled brightly, though Dominique immediately looked away. She was unable to think of any response other than, "Because Victoire thinks she's more sweet and beautiful than everyone…" but she didn't say it. If she did, the entire room would just tell her she was being silly.
Not that that changed the fact that it was true.
And it wasn't as if Victoire didn't have reasons to think that way. After all, she had come out of the womb perfect; she was smart, she was nice, she was funny, and everyone liked her… In fact, she wasn't just perfect—-she was untouchable perfect. She was vomit-inducing perfect. The fact that Dominique didn't touch that realm of perfection even on her best day was something that wasn't lost on her. After all, she had come out of the womb quiet and shy, and clearly not as bright as either her sister or Louis—-who people were starting to claim may be as bright, if not brighter than Victoire. No one ever said anything like that about Dominique, so she'd just come to accept the facts. Victoire and Louis were born perfect and she wasn't. That was all there was too it.
Still, it wasn't as if their parents and family ever outwardly acted as if Victoire or Louis were better; though Dominique could always detect the little things. For example, it had taken her twice as long to learn to read than it had either of them, and while her mother never tired in sitting there trying to teach her, the off-the-cuff comments to a nearby Victoire stating, "Remember how quickly you learned this?" were not lost on Dominique. She couldn't help but take them heart even if she knew her mother wasn't trying to hurt her. It still hurt to hear.
The comparisons to Louis tended to be less considering he was a boy and she a girl, though, being twins, they were still made. Dominique sometimes had to wonder how they had even come from the same place considering how different they could be. They had come out of her mother at the same time--she several minutes earlier--and as her mother had once told her, from two sperate eggs that formed at the same time. It hadn't made too much sense to Dominique-—since eggs come from chickens and birds and the likes, and she'd never seen a witch or wizard lay any-though if it were true, clearly all the good stuff went to Louis's egg while she got stuck with the leftovers.
In all honestly, as far as Dominique knew, there were only a few things she could remember doing better than either of her siblings. Crying, for starters…she did that better than anyone. Then there was the fact that she had taken to speaking French far quicker than both of her siblings had-—something she had a habit of pointing out to Victoire or Louis whenever she caught either of them speaking incorrectly. She actually felt that she had gotten so much better at it than the both of them, that for an entire winter when she was five, she spoke nothing but French to anyone. She only stopped when her father, who barely spoke the language, playfully asked her she was ever planning on having a chat with him again.
And then there was one other thing that she was better at-—the thing she was better than everyone in her entire family at—-and that was flying. The only thing she cared about.
"It's in great shape," said her father, snapping Dominique back to reality with his comment. He was still holding her broom, which immediately triggered a reaction in her. He'd had it long enough…she wanted it back.
"Oh, Fleur," said Dominique's grandmother, who was smiling an appraising, proud sort of smile at all three of her grandchildren, "how iz it zat your children keep getting more and more attractive! Look at Louis," she pointed directly at him, even though he was busy paying attention to whatever it was in the box he'd just received as a gift, "he iz so, so, so 'andsome! And ze girls," she glanced from Dominique to Victoire, "absolute beauties! All three are simply stunning."
Louis hadn't bothered to look up at the comment, though Victoire smiled again—-because that's what Victoire does-—and Dominique again averted her eyes to the floor. She didn't know why, but she felt so awkward hearing someone call her beautiful, or pretty, or gorgeous-—even though she'd never once in her life been called anything but. It was actually the one thing she could claim that she and her siblings were all equal on: They were all constantly told how attractive they were wherever they went. Family, friends, strangers on the street, everyone always stopped to mention either how all three were 'simply stunning' children. She knew most people meant it as a compliment, but it made her feel awkward. You wouldn't tell an ugly person how ugly you found them. Why should people feel the need to tell pretty people that they're pretty? They have mirrors, after all. Not to mention that it's just going to make them think they're better than other people, which is stupid…
"They are," said her mother, smiling at all three of her children as she made her way over to where they all sat. As if it was second nature to her, she went about fixing each one of their blonde heads-—first brushing Louis's bangs to the side and out of his eyes, then reaching out to lift Victoire's long, strawberry-blonde hair off her shoulders to let it fall against her back, and lastly, reaching out to adjust the bow on Dominique's long ponytail.
"Can I go play with my broom now?" Dominique asked, looking up at her mother expectantly.
"Sweet'eart," said her mother, her hand now sweetly stroking at her ponytail. "I do not want you out zere on a real broom without an adult until I know you can 'andle it."
"But," Dominique said quickly, almost sounding insulted, "I can handle it. Aunt Ginny's let me ride hers before—"
"And Uncle George and Aunt Angelina have let me ride there's loads of times!"
Her mother's expression seemed to say that this was news to her.
"Yeah," Dominique added. "And the last time Uncle Charlie came to visit, he took me up really high and let me steer—"
"So, anyway…" her father interrupted.
"I know what I'm doing," Dominique pleaded, feeling as though she could feel the tears coming again if her mother really wouldn't let her. "Please, can I just try it? Please?!"
Her mother looked at her father, who in turn silently shrugged. That shrug made her sigh. "Bill, if you would like to take her out and watch her..." She waved her hand as if she was done with the matter.
Dominique rounded on her father, her blue eyes now willing, hoping, and all but begging for him to say yes. She didn't know if it was because of the look she was giving him or because he knew how much this meant to her, but with his own heavy sigh, he nodded his head and gestured for her to take her broom out back.
And she screamed again.
"Stop doing that!" Victoire snapped, her hands over her ears once again as she glared at Dominique.
Her father had only allowed Dominique about twenty minutes on her broom, and had explicitly stated that she may not fly higher than the fence line in her grandparents' back garden given that he didn't know if there were many Muggles around. Twenty minutes or not, it had been the greatest twenty minutes of Dominique's life. She had never felt so alive, and as it turned out, she was just as good as she had anticipated she'd be on a broom. How could she not be given all the practice she'd had? Everyone who had come out to watch, from her grandparents, to her mum and dad, to Louis and Victoire, had commented on how well she seemed to be doing. Her grandfather even made mention that she was a natural, before adding that she was probably doing well enough that she could go down to the clearing not to far from their home where he knew people gathered to play Quidditch and fly.
Her mother hadn't liked that suggestion one bit. It was then that she had insisted Dominique get off and go get ready for dinner.
Still, two days later, as Louis and Dominique found themselves alone in their grandparents' back garden—-she flying just below the fence line and he idly watching her as she did—-it didn't stop Louis from running the suggestion by Dominique again once she'd landed, adding "Papa said it was only just beyond that tree line." He pointed to just beyond the fence, where a thicket of trees grew not far from where they were in the garden.
Dominique shrugged and wiped her sweaty brow after having just zoomed around the garden no short of fifty times. She had to admit she was getting tired of being confined to the space in the garden, but she wasn't sure she wanted to face other people on their brooms who would be much better than her. She always got weirdly shy around other people.
"Come on," Louis said as he wiped his hands on his shorts and gestured to where the fence opened. "I'm bored and feel like the trip."
"But what are you going to do?" Dominique asked.
Louis shrugged as he took his first step out of the garden and into the street. "Watch, I suppose."
Dominique hesitated for several seconds before tentatively following after him; her grip on her broom a little tighter than it was before. Here she was, nervous that people would look at her funny for turning up to fly even though she actually had a broom, meanwhile Louis didn't have one and he didn't seem to care what people may have thought. How was it that he and Victoire were never afraid of just walking into places and talking to people, while she was always so chicken?
It had only taken the pair of them a few minutes to reach the thicket of trees that led to the supposed field their grandfather had mentioned, and it became apparent once they pushed ahead through the forest that there was a small footpath leading to somewhere within the mash-up of trees. Louis had taken the lead through the wooded area, and while Dominique had just begun to contemplate how long this would take them—-and whether they had just willingly volunteered themselves to get eaten by some forest creature—-the tree line suddenly broke to reveal a vast clearing; one that was completely surrounded on all sides by trees.
"Looks like the place," Louis said, smiling at his sister and gesturing around the space. "Go for it." He gestured to the sky.
Dominique glanced up to the sky, where a group of men were playing three-on-three Quidditch together. Other than that, there was no one else there besides a small group of people who were across the clearing looking as if they were watching the men above. This wasn't so bad…She could handle this.
She smiled brightly and turned to Louis. "Want to see how high I can go?"
He nodded enthusiastically.
With that, Dominique hopped on her broom and took off; within seconds, she was already much higher than she'd been allowed to go in her grandparents' garden. She pushed herself higher and higher; at least as high as the men who were absorbed in their three-on-three match were. She then proceeded to go even higher than that; easily the highest she'd ever been on her own. Of course, the second she realized that, her nerves began to kick, her stomach clenched, and she found her grip tighten immensely. She forced herself to come back down to a more comfortable height and then began zooming about the clearing, the wind blowing against her face and whipping her ponytail around madly. This was incredible…
She did this for ten minutes, flying at least fifteen laps around the men playing Quidditch, before she checked down to see if Louis was watching her.
Only, he wasn't. He was busy talking to someone.
She slowed herself down and began to pull herself in to land. Landing had never been her strong point, and she missed her mark by at least twenty yards, which put her further away from Louis than she had initially intended. With a quick jog though, she caught up to where her brother was talking to another boy.
The other boy was tall, and probably older—-maybe eleven or twelve. He had dark hair, bushy eyebrows, was very tan, and had an almost surly look about him as he rested up against his own broomstick. Dominique noticed that Louis was already gesturing to her as she approached.
"This is my sister, Dominique," Louis had said in English, though he quickly caught himself and repeated the exact same thing in French to the boy.
"Bonjour," said the boy, smiling at Dominique.
Dominique mustered a weak smile. She was no good at dealing with boys, particularly older ones, who—-simply because they were older—-she automatically found herself taking a bizarre sort of fancy to. She didn't even think this one was cute, but he was an older boy and that made her immediately feel self-conscious. She never knew what to say.
"He thought you were a bloke when you were up there," Louis said to her with a quick laugh. "Guess that means he thought your flying was on point."
Dominique made a face. "Girls can fly just as well as boys can."
"I know that," said Louis. "He said it, not me. Maybe French girls can't fly?"
"Je m'appelle Marco," said the boy, who clearly didn't understand a word of English.
Dominique forced another weak smile before looking back at Louis. "Why are you talking to him?"
"Why not?" Louis asked. "He came up and said he'd never seen us around here before, and I told him how you just got your broom and wanted to try it out. He said for someone who'd just gotten a broom, you were pretty good."
Dominique grinned a little, but immediately averted her eyes to the ground.
Marco gestured to the sky and mumbled something quickly, but Dominique hadn't heard.
"Pardon?" she asked.
"He offered to show you a thing or two to help you out," Louis said, throwing her a funny look. "Come on, I thought your French was better than mine?"
"It is!" she said quickly. "I just hadn't heard—-" She immediately stopped and looked up to the sky. When she turned back to Marco, she shook her head. "Merci, mais..." She shook her head and turned to Louis. "We should be going."
Louis made a face. "Why?"
"Because mum and dad don't know where we are and it's getting dark," she said, turning towards the break in the clearing where they had entered. "Come on."
She set off as at a quick pace, not turning back to see if Louis was following her; instead she kept on walking. She didn't even know why she'd been in such a hurry to get out of there, but suddenly all the fun she had been having seemed entirely too awkward.
For the next two days, after having been reduced to flying back around her grandparents' garden since she couldn't pluck up the courage to go back to the clearing, she soon realized that this feeling was nothing compared to what had come from flying high up in the treetops, soaring over the ground and people below. In fact, being restricted to not flying above the fence line was no fun at all…
So, on the next dull afternoon, where everyone else was finding things to do, she forced her fears away and tentatively—-hesitantly—-grabbed her broom. This time, she made the trip back to the clearing alone.
There were more people this time, some flying while others watched, but there was no sign of the boy from the other day. Satisfied at this realization, Dominique readied herself on her broom and took off—-this time higher than she'd even let herself go previously. It had only taken maybe five seconds for her to realize that she was mad if she was really going to let herself be denied this incredible experience because some other kid had made her feel awkward. And what had he done, exactly? He had been perfectly nice. He had even wanted to help her, but for whatever the reason, that had been like a signal for her to run away as fast as she could. It were times like these where she wished should be a little bit more like Louis or Victoire--seeing as they were so willing to chat up mostly anyone—-but the fact remained that she wasn't that person. In all reality, she much preferred things up her on her broom; all by herself.
She had flown for over an hour this time without stopping, all while trying to teach herself how to do a barrel roll, how turn at an instant, and how to stop quickly in midair—-though she definitely needed to work on that last one. She would have been more than happy to continue going, but her stomach was growling and she really should probably go and check in with her family. They didn't know where she was and it was almost time for dinner.
With a heavy sigh, she began to descend back to the boring old earth below. With a soft thud, she landed on the ground; still well off the mark she had intended to land on. She stared at the spot where she stood and silently promised herself that she'd work on landing on her next trip here. Landing and turning were essential if she ever planned on playing Quidditch at Hogwarts—-
"Bonjour," said a familiar voice, which, needless to say, belonged to the only person she had met while in France.
Slowly, she turned; sure enough, standing there with his surly eyes and his almost permanent looking grimace—-which wasn't really a grimace at all, though it sure looked like it—-was Marco. When she met his eyes, he smiled…though that too sort of looked like a grimace. This kid apparently had one facial expression.
"Hi," she said slowly, before remembering where she was. "I, um…Bonjour."
"You no speak French?' he asked, his accent thick.
"No, je peux," she said, feeling stupid. Of course she spoke French. She spoke French well and fluently. This shouldn't have been a question.
He seemed to doubt her a little, or rather, that was the impression she got from the fact that he then pointed to the sky, then to her broom, and then smiled and nodded. He then got on his own broom and took off into the sky. He didn't go high, but he zoomed around quickly and then stopped instantaneously in midair. It was then that he looked back at her to see if she was watching, and when he saw that she was, he was gesturing to his broom.
She furrowed her brow in confusion, wondering why he didn't just open his mouth and speak. She watched him gesturing to his broom three more times before he zoomed around again and then stopped just as he had before. When he gestured to his broom again, she then realized exactly what he was doing.
"Oh, you're showing me how fast you can stop," she said out loud, though he was nowhere near close enough her to hear—--not that he'd even understand her if he was. Now she understood. He must have been standing down here watching her struggle with her stopping and was trying to show her how to…
He must have been watching her…
She swallowed hard. That was weird, right? A boy watching you while you're privately doing something-—well, sure, when you're in a field full of people it wasn't exactly private, but still… That was weird, right?
Dominique suddenly remembered something she had overheard her mother telling Victoire when she had informed her of a boy at the bookshop in Diagon Alley who had walked up to her and told her that he thought she was pretty: "Soon enough, you'll 'ave lots of boys saying zat to you. You'll notice many more paying attention ze older you get. It iz just 'ow boys work."
Was this like that? She was just as pretty as Victoire, no one ever said otherwise. It was possible that some people might think...No, she didn't want that. That made her feel…scared. It made her feel awkward. Why didn't boys just mind their own business and leave her be?
With that, Marco landed beside her again and grinned. He seemed amused, or at the very least, expectant that she might be.
"Good for you," she said dryly, resorting to English in the hopes that he'd get frustrated with her and go away.
"Thank you," he said.
She frowned. "You understood me? You understand English?"
He spaced his thumb and index finger about an inch apart from each other. "Small bit."
"Great…" she mumbled, looking down at her feet. With a weird sense of courage bubbling up in her, she looked back at him. "What do you want from me?"
"No?" he asked, looking confused.
She repeated the question in French, and wasn't at all surprised to see his face brighten at the use of his native language. When he began to think about the question though, his face seemed even more surprised. He shrugged. "You fly good, but could be…how you say…gooder?"
"Better," she corrected. "And I know that I need to practice. I just got my broom."
"I help," he said brightly.
She looked around. There are a millions reasons why not. Didn't this kid have anything better to do than bother her? Didn't he have any friends?
"Not many…enfants," he gestured around the clearing, where Dominique noticed that there weren't any children around other than them. He looked back at her and shrugged.
"So, you're just bored and looking for someone to play with?" she asked, inspecting him skeptically. Was he really just looking for someone to fly around with?
He looked as if he couldn't quite translate what she'd said, so she repeated it in French for him. With his grimace of a smile, he nodded his head. "Yes."
Dominique smirked a little, now finding this entire situation rather funny. Of course it was this simple…she was way too young to care about what boys thought. Maybe by the time she was nearly eleven, like Victoire, then it would be something to think about, but for now, why bother? As her Aunt Hermione had told her and Victoire once—-after Victoire had mentioned how cute she found the Seeker of the Puddlemere United Quidditch team after seeing his picture in one of Dominique's magazine, "you girls have your entire life to worry about that stuff. For now, don't worry about it. Have fun."
She looked back at Marco. "Okay," she added, glancing back up at the sky and clapping her hands together. "I can't stay long, but why don't you show me how you did that?" She pointed to his broom and then the sky. "You know, how you stopped in the air?"
He stared at her, looking as if he was trying his hardest to figure out what she had meant by that.
"And why am I still speaking to you English when I know French?" she asked him, more jokingly than to get a response.
He shrugged, which in turn make Dominique giggle.
From that moment on, a nice little partnership was born between the two of them. Dominique found herself getting help with some of the mechanics of her flying by someone who seemed far more natural at it than she did, and she was providing Marco with some company during his long, dull summer months. In fact, over the rest of the afternoon, she had come to discover that he only just turned eleven a month earlier, even though people always thought he was older, and that he was exceptionally excited about starting school at Beaxbatons come September. He had been born and raised in this small village and thought it was the most boring place on earth—something Dominique could remember her mother mentioning a time or two considering she'd grown up here as well—and that while the village was a good mix of wizards and Muggles, the amount of wizard children around were scarce. He mentioned there were only two other boys—-brothers who were away on holiday for the summer—-and due to him being an only child, he had been bored to tears lately…until he had spotted Louis in the clearing that day.
From that day forth, Dominique was well aware of how she would be spending the rest of her holiday in France. She and Marco had set a meeting time for each day, and if they both showed up, they would continue to practice flying—-or Quidditch, since he had now moved on to helping her with her game there, as well. There were days she couldn't, or perhaps he couldn't come, but the days they could meet we far more frequent than the days they couldn't.
Dominique had even invited Louis and Victoire along at certain points, and while they both came out once or twice, they would generally get bored after the first half an hour or so and leave; especially since Dominique and Marco spent all of their time up in the sky shooting around the clearing. Not that Dominique minded, considering she found them distracting anyway. She was entirely too busy trying to figure out how to do consecutive loops and get her landings just right—-the latter of which she was still struggling with. However, even with that problem still at hand, there was no doubt that Marco had taught her little tricks and nuances that had made her better even after a week. If she had had more time, she probably could have gotten as good as he was by the end of the summer.
"You've improved much!" Marco said on the afternoon before Dominique was due to head back to England. He had developed a habit of complimenting her in English when he wanted her to know he meant it. He had mentioned how he wanted to practice his English on her while he had her around.
Dominique smiled and wiped her sweaty hands onto her slacks. She had just landed within three yards of where she had hoped to land; a huge improvement from a week and a half ago.
"You will go back to England and show everyone," Marco added, his grimace smile ever present.
"I hope to," she said proudly, a huge smile across her face. She'd never in her life felt so accomplished. She had to be beaming. "I wish I didn't have to go."
"Do not zink like that," he said, slipping back into French immediately afterward. He had muttered something about there still being plenty of hours in the day left.
She nodded her head and looked up at the sky. Without another word, she flew back into the sky and began flying laps around the clearing, wondering what else there was to do with the rest of afternoon out here. She turned to see if Marco was nearby, but quickly noticed he wasn't. She scanned the sky for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. She had thought he'd come up right after her like he always did, but…he wasn't up here.
With a quick look down at the ground, Dominique spotted him not far from where they had been standing before; now joined by two other people. They looked younger…like kids.
She swooped back down and landed again just one yard off her mark. She almost wanted to cheer out loud and yell to Marco to tell her she'd gotten so close, but with the other kids there—-who she now realized were both boys-—she didn't. She kept her mouth shut as Marco stood talking to them both, all of whom seemed happy to see each other. It took Dominique a moment to process the scene, but once it hit her that these were probably his friends-—the ones who had gone on holiday—-it quickly made sense.
A smile crossed her face as she began to approach where they were all talking in rabid French. She wasn't about to admit it to Marco, but she had felt a little bad that she had been leaving him tomorrow with no one else to play with. He hadn't been sure when his friends were due back, but the look on his face now made it seem like he couldn't have been happier that they were here. She couldn't even detect his grimace.
"Ah," said Marco the second Dominique approached. "Dominique!" He pointed to the boys. "My friends, I told you, yes?"
She nodded and smiled. "Yes." She turned to the friends and waved a little. "Bonjour."
The homlier of the two boys politely waved back while the handsomer one smiled and said, "Bonjour."
"John-Paul," Marco introduced, pointing to the homely one, "and Jacques," he pointed to the handsome one.
"Dominique," she said, even though she knew Marco had already mentioned it.
"English, no?" asked Jacques.
Dominique looked a little confused. "Are you asking if I am English or do I speak it?"
He stared at her.
"Because the answer to both is yes," she added.
Jacques seemed to at least pick up on the 'yes' in what she said and began nodding his head to say he understood. By the looks of things, he understood less English than Marco ever had, but Dominique barely had time to think about that because in the next moment, Jacques had turned back to Marco and nudged him in arm. With an extremely obvious wink, a weird smile, and a nod directly at her, she suddenly received a very dodgy vibe off of this kid.
Just as quickly, Jacques was off again rambling in rapid French to Marco and John-Paul. Almost immediately, Dominique began to suspect that he wasn't aware that she spoke the language, because if he had and he was still saying the things he was saying, then he was the biggest idiot in the world.
The first thing out of his mouth was that she was a very pretty girl, and he wondered if Marco had noticed that. Marco, of course, knowing that Dominique could understand every word of this, glanced back at her awkwardly. He didn't even have time to answer before Jacques was off again; asking if this was the person Marco had just mentioned spending his time with helping to fly.
Jacques laughed. Apparently, Marco had to realize how pretty Dominique was because why else would he waste his time teaching some "dumb" girl to fly otherwise. Girls on brooms was a ridiculous idea, and the next thing you know, Marco would be telling him that he'd been playing Quidditch with her as well.
The look on Marco's face seemed to say it all because without a word, Jacques was off again, this time laughing. Dominique literally translated what he said to mean, "You moron, girls shouldn't play Quidditch." He looked back at Dominique and smiled, still completely ignorant that she knew every word coming out of his mouth. Without taking his eyes off of her, he added-—in French-—"especially the pretty ones." He looked back at Marco and added, "She's probably as dumb as rocks. They usually are."
Dominique's jaw clenched and her eyes narrowed. Never in her life had anyone ever spoken to her like this. Who did this boy think he was? She could feel her body begin to shake with anger, and just as quickly, she felt the tears try to come. Oh no…she couldn't cry right now…she couldn't. She had to hold it. Not now. Not now. Not now.
"She iz very good," Marco said suddenly, though Dominique noted it was also very purposefully in English. She had a feeling he wanted her to know exactly what he was saying, but that didn't help matters when she remembered his friends spoke less English than he did.
Jacques swatted Marco on the arm and gestured to his broom. He quickly told him to come on, that they could play a few quick rounds of some game that Dominique had never heard of before they had to go home for dinner. He ended by saying, "Lose the girl. You can play men's games now. She can go brush her hair and play with dolls like she should have been in the first place."
Dominique began to violently shake from the anger. She had never, ever, felt this angry before. Even her fights with Victoire had never made her this angry. She couldn't be any good at flying because she was a girl? She had to 'play with dolls' and forget about Quidditch because she was a girl?
Two tears streamed down her face, but she was holding back the sobs for fear of being told she was just a crybaby little girl. That would only fuel this jerk into thinking he was right. She didn't know how much longer she could hold it, though.
Marco had looked back at her, his eyes apologizing for what had just happened, but the words didn't come. They never came, in fact. They seemed to be forgotten, and with his head hung a little lower than usual, he merely mumbled, "'ave a good trip home," before he turned and slowly trekked after his friends.
That had made the tears come.
Like a big, fat, stupid, baby, she started to sniffle while tears streamed down her face. What a jerk! All of them, all boys! They were such jerks! How could anyone think like that!? She knew she was a good flyer and how dare they think that just because she was some girl she shouldn't be any good! How dare they think she was capable of nothing more than brushing her hair and playing with dolls?
And then, before she knew what had hit her, before she could stop herself, she found herself screaming, "YOU'RE A JERK!"
Marco had stopped and turned, though he was at least ten yards away at this point. Even his friends, who were several yards beyond him, had stopped.
"YEAH!" Dominique yelled as she felt the urge to sob slowly decreasing while the urge to scream at them grew much strong. "ALL OF YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN BIG JERKS! AND THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN PLAY MEN'S GAME BECAUSE YOU'RE JUST STUPID LITTLE BOYS! THAT'S ALL YOU'LL EVER BE!"
She knew they couldn't understand what she was saying, but she also knew the tone of her voice conveyed the message well enough. Marco now stood gaping back at her, while his friends exchanged looks between them wondering what on earth was happening.
Dominique grabbed her broom, which had somehow ended up on the ground during her shouting match, and began storming towards the opening in the clearing that led to her grandparents' house. Before she disappeared completely, she stopped and eyed Jacques with the dirtiest look she could muster.
"Oh yeah," she said, forcing a smug smirk. "Je parle français. And I speak it well!"
The boy's face dropped immediately, and for a second, that made it all worth it. Perhaps he'd think twice next time before he ran his mouth like the moron that he was, but she knew he probably wouldn't. He'd probably always be a jerk; now he'd just have to be more cautious before he spoke. Not that he would…he seemed too thick to get the point.
With that, she set off at a sprint out of the clearing; now with a huge mixture of emotions circling around inside of her. She definitely felt hurt, upset, and betrayed, but for once she didn't feel like crying about it. It was as if yelling out how she felt had somehow made her want to cry less. Maybe the reason she cried so much was before she always held everything in? Maybe if she let it out more, she wouldn't be such a crybaby?
Not to mention, that had felt good to let that jerk know that he had hurt her. It had felt good to scream it out and let him know that she wasn't going to sit back and take it. That had been the best feeling of all, and the second best feeling—-after riding her broom-—that she had felt lately. Maybe she should do that more often…have a good scream every now and then and things will magically start to feel better. Perhaps there was something to this…?
She dwelled on that thought until she reached the garden of her grandparents' house, and by the time she'd stopped running, she almost wanted to laugh. The more she thought about it, the more she actually felt things had been rather funny. The look on those boys' faces…
She suddenly laughed harder, though immediately went to grab a stitch in her side that she'd been neglecting since she'd stopped running. She hadn't even realized she had sprinted all the way home, but now that she was standing in one spot, she caught her reflection in a nearby window and saw she was an absolute mess. She was sweating buckets, there was dirt on her face, and her hair was frazzled and all over the place; some pieces sticking out and others plastered in sweat to her forehead. That sight alone made her laugh again. She certainly didn't look like some "pretty girl" now…
"Dominique?" came her mother's voice suddenly, followed moments later by her appearing through the back door of her grandparents' home. "Have you been flying all zis time?"
"Mostly," Dominique said as she struggled to catch her breath. "I took care of a few other things, too."
"Look at you," said her mother, her voice full of concern as she looked her up and down. "You look..." She gaped. "You're a mess."
"I'm fine," Dominique said, waving her hard carelessly. "Really."
"You most certainly are not," said her mother as she reached out to grab the bow that was now barely keeping a weak looking ponytail together. "Here, let me just fix—"
"No, Mum, don't," she said, squirming away from her mother when she had tried to collect her hair into a bundle and fix it. "I'll be fine. I like it this way."
Her mother's eyes narrowed on her as the bow she had just pulled out of her daughter's hair hung dully in her hand. "You like it zis way? You like to be unkempt and messy?"
Dominique smiled and shrugged. "I do right now. I'm tired of feeling pretty."
Her mother stared at her. She looked as if she'd thought Dominique had gone mad.
Dominique nodded and caught her reflection once more in the mirror, laughing once again when she saw it. "Yeah," she continued nodding before gesturing to the bow her mother was still holding, "and you can keep that. I think I'm over bows."
With that, she took off jogging towards the house, feeling oddly free and happy.
And as it were, she never wore a bow in her hair again.