A/N: The title of this fic is a line from the marvelous Andrea Gibson's "I Do", which you should go look up, even though it has nothing to do with this fic.
This is my second fic for Sylvia's Gift Giving Extravaganza. That's 2 out of 25! Progress!
For Cassidy aka our dancing days. My beautiful, beautiful Cass. She writes like some sort of supernatural being and makes my Wolfstar heart die again and again and again. She is but a child, but she is also one of my glorious wives, and I love her, so I hope she loves this.
Cass, my first JamesDominique – my first cousincest –for you, dearest.
Thank you to Izzie, who beta'd (shit, practically co-wrote) this and is the reason it actually has an ending.
Thank you to Sophy, as well, for helping with French.
"I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth; then I ask myself the same question."
Dominique is like a bird; this is a fact.
She is flighty and excitable and energetic. She perches on your shoulder and whistles things like I love you and we can't do this, James and stay with me and please forget about me, and you would recognise her tune anywhere, anywhere at all.
Her song is in every word you speak, slipping out softly like a silent symphony. Her wingspan is the heavy weight on your shoulders, her sharp beak that pounding in your temples, the rustle of her feathers the tingle on your skin, and you love her. She is in every move you make, echoing around the swing of your limbs. She is in you, building her bloody nest and making a home in your chest.
But like all birds, she never stays still.
She sings her song, spreads her wings, and flies.
But she has your heart on a string and so you follow.
You always, always follow.
Paris in winter is cold but beautiful. The lights are a thousand shining eyes winking along the horizon, the buildings are the sort of pretty only found in fairytales; the bones of the city hold them up, history and elegance in each chipped brick, and you think it fitting that this is the first place she takes you.
It is just like her.
"No one knows us here," she whispers to you, her soft lips ghosting over the stubble on your jaw. "We could be anyone."
"I want you to be you," you say, "and I'll be whoever you're loving."
She smiles, bright as any city lights and just as beautiful, and you kiss her, right there on the streets of Paris.
"Always you," she says. "Always you."
She kisses you again, quickly, her lips cold from the wind.
"No one knows us here," she says again, and, as she drags you further into an unknown city, you wonder if she is already going mad with freedom.
You rent an apartment just outside Paris. It's expensive, but you've got the money your father gave you when you turned seventeen, and she's got enough gold in her vault from singing in old pubs and semi-sleazy lounge bars to buy some cheap furniture from an old man in a flat-cap who speaks rapid French and looks at you in distaste when you mumble merci beaucoup with your clumsy English tongue.
But he doesn't look at you in distaste when you hold her hand.
And that's all that matters.
The view from your flat is very different to your first glimpse of Paris. It doesn't have those bright lights and fancy buildings; there's no over-bearing elegance or forced perfection. There are cottages, their rooftops sparkling with frost in the moonlight, their window ledges dusted with snow, surrounded by sloping hills and easy openness, and there is something beautiful yet terrifying about two such opposites thriving in the same city.
"C'est incredible, non?" Dominque says, slipping her arms around your chest and placing her lips at the back of your neck, gently.
"Oui," you whisper. "It's so perfect."
You feel her smile against your skin. You spin around suddenly, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her close, until you are chest to chest, eye to eye, and she is burning your edges with her touch.
"I would give it all up time and time again for you," you say, and she knows that you mean it.
"Haven't you given up enough for me yet?" she says, and there's a note of sadness in her voice, a pang of regret and soreness in her words, an unsung apology in her throat.
"No." Her neck is warm under your lips, her skin smooth under your fingertips. "Never."
You visit her at the new pub on the corner of your street, where you know she sings like star, timelessly, and old men watch her hips swing like a pendulum, her smile flash like clockwork.
The bar stool is worn and shaky. The bar itself is crumbling at the edges, and the varnish peels off easily under your fingernails. The beer tastes cheap and bitter. The men next to you slur their words, half French, half drunkese, and you sit there and scrape at the bar and wait.
"Mesdames et Messieurs, veuillez faire un triomphe à notre invité de ce soir, Dominique!"
She walks out from a back room and takes her place in the middle of the floor, and, Merlin, you were right. She's wearing a skin-tight red dress and her best flirty eyes, and she's got a fucking feather in her hair, like she knows what you think of her, knows what she is.
The band starts, slow and jazzy and strong, and her blue eyes find yours at the bar. She smiles, says something in French you don't really understand, but the men behind at bar all lean over and clap you on the shoulder, gushing enthusiastically, and the goddess with the microphone winks.
And she sings.
All movement in the room dies at her voice, all eyes searching for that sound, that sound that breaks hearts and ends lives and whispers of infinity.
Her voice is low, smoky, raspy, gorgeous,and the lyrics are French but it doesn't matter because you're not sure you would be able to hear them anyway. You cannot understand anything but the tone of her voice, the swing of those pendulum hips, the gleam of her eyes on that stage.
She is alive.
This is where she belongs, and, this time, she's up there for you.
Each key change says I love you, every high note whispers of forever; every deep breath is everything she can never say that you know you know anyway.
She sings forever, and it seems that time has stopped.
This is it,you think, and nothing makes sense anymore except that infinity rolls from her tongue, claims you by the throat, says love me, love me, love me,says, never, ever leave, says I hope I was worth it,says, this is me.
And Dom keeps singing and the band keeps playing and your heart keeps stopping, restarting, stuttering, running,but you don't care.
Because she sings to you. She sings for you.
She sings and she sings and she's yours.
Your beer remains forgotten on the bar, and your stool creaks under the pressure as you try to lean closer and closer and closer...
The man next to you mutters disgustedly in your direction but you don't hear him.
You don't hear anything but her.
The first letter comes just after New Year's.
It's in written in your father's careful scrawl, damp from the sleet and brought in by Al's old owl, Bucket. You see her flying towards your apartment in the distance and you know immediately what is coming – what other owl flies slightly to the right with one of her wings bent at the tip?
You can't help but nuzzle her fondly when she arrives, the stupid owl, but you ignore the letter attached to her leg until she nips at your ear and thrusts it in your face.
You tear it from her leg and throw it on the fire.
"Bye, Bucket," you whisper gently, holding her close to your chest and ignoring how very much she smells like home.
You throw her out the window. She catches the wind like the letter catches fire; quickly, gracefully and leaving only emptiness and ashes in her wake.
You watch her until she is a speck in the distance and Dom comes home from the bar.
"Good set?" you ask, but your eyes are still on the horizon.
"What do you think of Russia?" she asks.
And it all starts again.
Liski is fucking freezing.
It's bitter and icy and Russian and Dom absolutely loves it for what it is – impossibly cold and dead.
Something doesn't feel quite right here. This place is nothing like her.
You rent a small cottage at the bottom of a mountain – a fucking mountain –because Dom has fallen in love with the countryside and the views and the snow and everything around her.
You wonder aloud if, this time, you will stay.
She laughs, pressing her hand to her chest. "We could go anywhere on the earth, James. Anywhere. Doesn't that make your heart skip?"
You want to say no.
Instead you say, "You make my heart skip," with a cheeky smile and push her towards your new bedroom.
Afterwards, you decide that home is where the heart is. Your heart is a wanderer, walking outside of your body on long silken legs with hair of shimmering blonde and that city-light smile.
And your home is wherever she flies to.
Your home is her.
She doesn't get any more singing jobs in Liski.
"People around here don't need music to be happy," she says as she throws more wood into the fire. "They're quite simple. I think I like that."
You stare, watch the flames flicker, feel the heat flare.
"You need music to be happy, Dom."
She stares, warms her hands by the fire, turns red in its wake.
"I'll sing for you." It is that simple to her, and you can't help but love her for it. This is how she is – she is pragmatic and she is fearless and she is Dom and isn't that enough?
She sings that night, like sweet, sleepy smoke from that fire, drowning you in its simplicity.
"I believe that lovers should be tied together, and thrown into the ocean in the worst of weather, and left there to drown, left there to drown in their innocence..."
She sings until you fall asleep, as the fire crackles somewhere behind her voice and Russia sleeps around you.
But she is all you hear.
She is all you ever hear.
The next letter that comes is from your uncle Bill.
You don't get to read it; you find Dominique bruising her ribcage with her knees and sobbing in the way that only little children should.
You drop to the floor, bones creaking in protest, and you wonder if you are already too old for running away, for this endless game of hide-and-seek. You wrap her up in your arms like you are her roof, caving in, until there is no space between the curve of her spine and the line of your chest and the only way for her to breathe is to push back against you, shoulders up, lungs open. Your heart beats against her back, hers against your hands, and you hold her so tight.
"Dom," you whisper, "Dom, it's okay, Dom, I'm here. Shh."
"We need to get out of here," she chokes. "They're coming."
Liski is stark white and empty from the window of the airplane.
The thing with Dublin is that it could be so beautiful if it tried.
The streets in the city are busy and bustling, the ground is glittering where the afternoon sun kisses this morning's rainfall hello. Dominique is distant here.
It is clear that she doesn't like this city quite as much.
The lights around you shine like they did in Paris, but they are duller, less elegant. They feel out of place and wrong here, like they are trying to tell an ancient city how to be beautiful. It is as if those city lights are covering the past, the history, the trauma of this town.
You thought once that Paris was just like Dom. Now you realise; she is Dublin.
And that is why she hates it here.
"Dominique," you say, grabbing her by the wrist and spinning her to face you. Her hair fans out around her, catching in the cold wind, and she is an angel for that second, spinning and shining and beautiful. "We can't do this forever – we can't runforever."
"We're not running," she says desperately. "We're trying to fly, James."
"We're trying and we're failing," you say. "Maybe it's time you realised that your wings aren't real, Dom."
Your words slap her in the face and she pulls herself from you, reeling. There is pain and shock and I thought you understood in her eyes. She is looking at you like perhaps she never knew you at all.
"Let's go," you say to her, almost pleading with her. It's with a great courage that you finally look her square in those beautiful eyes, bright blue and glittering with betrayal, and maybe, you wonder, maybe I've never known you either, not really.
You quash the thought as soon as it appears.
The gaudy lights are harsh on her features, and you let go of her wrist, frail in your touch, a mesh of paper skin and bone. The imprint of your fingers stains the blank page of her skin with inks of purples and blues and the repressed strength of a boy with clipped wings.
She opens her mouth as though to speak, but you blink and she is gone.
Dublin without her is dim, and Dublin without her is dreary, and bloody lonely, and you wander aimlessly around street corners as the rain beats down on your head in its steady rhythm - the pound pound pound of a drum, of running footfalls, of a missing heartbeat.
She's a mockingbird, you've decided, and she flies through your mind in a haze of taunting melodies and laments, leaving but confusion in her wake.
Her song echoes through your very bones, so whole and so real it is almost tangible. You reach out to touch it, to find her in this nothing, but the inevitability of failure pains you. She is so far from you now but you can feel her, like the melody of your xylophone ribcage, the thrum of your hummingbird heartbeat; she is your song.
You reach and you feel and you listen, and she echoes like a ghost throughout the streets, sad and slow. Your chest is heavy with the weight of loneliness and all your stupid fuckups –running away, hiding, losing everything, losing her - but if you close your eyes for just a second...she is there.
(She is always there.)
Your eyes are closed and you are breathing deep, slowly, letting the rain hit your skin and her voice hit your soul with its low, broken tones and –
You open your eyes.
"Dom," you breathe, and she continues to sing, the people continue to stare, and the copper coins continue to fall like confetti at her feet.
You watch her. For hours, you stand there, hidden at that street corner, ignoring the curious eyes and distressed looks of passersby, watching her sing like it's the last thing she'll ever do.
Her eyelashes flutter against her pale cheeks, and she looks lost and lonely and cheap beneath the bright orange streetlights. The coins at her feet are dull and dark now in this faded evening light, and the people are no longer looking her way.
There is a moment, just the shortest, briefest second, where she stops – stops singing, stops looking down at the ground, stops breathing –but it is enough.
"Dom!" you call. "DOM!"
And she sees you. Her eyes flare and her cheeks burn that Weasley red – that fucking Weasley red, the reason you're here in the first place, the reason you haven't seen your family in months, the reason you can't be who you want to be, can't love who you want to love – and you are running towards her on shaky knees.
"Don't come fucking near me, James," she shouts, hands curled into fists. "Don't you dare!"
"Dom, I didn't mean - "
"You meant exactly what you said, James. You wouldn't have said it if you didn't mean it."
She lets her gaze fall to the money strewn at her feet, coins dirty and wet from the rain-soaked street.
"I love you," you say, and her head snaps up. "I wouldn't have said that if I meant it. Dominique Weasley, I love you. I love you. I love you."
And you are reaching for her hands, pressing your cold fingertips against the inside of her wrists and feeling her heartbeat quicken under your touch, feeling her warmth burning your skin.
"I love you," you say one last time, and you hope she can hear the sincerity shining through.
"I know." Her eyes don't meet yours, but she is taking tiny steps closer to you, falling into your arms. "I know. I love you, too."
You knew it, of course you did, but hearing those words out loud makes something in your chest melt. You sigh in relief. "Feels good to say it, eh?"
"You gave up life in England for me," she says quietly. "You didn't have to say it."
And then she is pressed close to your chest, her lips warm on yours, the sweet scent of her hair filling your lungs as you pull her close enough to hope she will never want to scrape the horizon with the tips of her wings again.
"You told me I couldn't fly," she says, her voice slipping down your spine like her hands slip down your chest. "We can't go home. Not now."
You nod silently, the weight of her words sending ice cold shivers up your spine – this is it.
"Teach me, James," she whispers. "Teach me how to fly."
"You start," you say, pulling her back to you so that your chin rests on her head and your heart pounds against her cheek, "with not falling."
"Bit late for that," she says, laughter light and bright.
"Only if you let it be," you say, and you wrap your arms around her shoulders and hug her until it hurts because you have her back and you willneverlet her go again – even if it means tying a string to her ankle and letting her drag you through the sky like a deflated balloon, trailing sadly in her wake.
She smiles up at you, blue eyes bright again.
And you know that she doesn't have to drag you – she can fly anywhere, and you will follow.
Los Angeles. Summer. A small apartment in the middle of everything.
No one will find you here.
The letters have stopped – whether it's because you're too far or because they gave up, you'll never know.
Dom cuts her hair short, so that it tickles her chin, dyes it a deep red, and stops smiling at strangers, just in case. She looks like a superstar and you tell her and she laughs. You grow your hair out a little, try growing a beard. Dom says you look like a rock star and you have a sneaking suspicion that she's taking the piss, so you shave it off.
You are changing. On the outside. You are both wearing this masks – no, not masks, this is who we are now – and hiding from the past and it's working.
But you are still James Potter and she is still Dominique Weasley.
You try so fucking hard to let her fly, to let yourself watch and wait as she flits in and out of sight; unpredictable, dangerous, changing and growing and leaving.
You tell yourself she's going to come back, and she does.
The days when she loses herself in the sunny streets of California are the days you miss home the most, because without her here as a constant reminder of your decision, the faces lurking in the corners of your eyes become sharper, more pronounced.
(You can count the freckles on Lily's face; see the flush of Al's cheeks after Quidditch.)
And when she returns, slipping into bed in the early hours of the morning with nothing to say but I'm back, James,smelling of cigarettes and stale perfume, you tell yourself that forgetting is the simplest way.
But Dom, you've realised, dislikes simplicity.
The morning when the sunlight seems that little bit brighter, and it streams in ribbons through the thin curtains, something in her voice changes.
You step out of the door to buy a pint of milk, (and the irony of it is, you think bitterly, that it was for her, it was allf or her) and when you return she is gone. And if it's real this time then she's done it well because she's taken all her clothes and all her books, and the emptiness of each room is nothing compared to the emptiness you feel inside.
"Fuck," you growl, because she's cut all the strings and she's spread open her wings and she's gone.
Oh, you taught her to fly, and she has done just that.
The sad thing is that Dominique is like a bird; this is a fact.
She sings her song on your windowsill in the early hours of the morning, but she is long gone before the light ever really hits your eyes. She makes you listen to the day's awakening, makes you see those burning sunrises, but she leaves you alone in the darkness, every single night.
Merlin, you love her. But she will never make you happy, will she?
Because she always, always leaves.