Title: you're only an angel once you're dead

Summary: (If you treat them like corpses, of course they will die.) - James, Dominique, and a devil's waltz. / au freeverse.

Prompts: JamesDom and flutter.

Notes: This was written for The Freeverse Competition over on HPFC, hosted by the lovely Jazzy, and was also loosely inspired by Timberlake Wertenbaker's play, Our Country's Good. It's an AU, and I sincerely hope you enjoy!

Welcome to the war, my dear;

welcome to bloodshed and tearstains,

and welcome to the dance

of the grim reaper.

(Listen to your heartbeat flutter.)

Friend or foe,

love, he'll dance with you all.

(Don't speak, darling -

don't beg for your life.)

He'll spin you in your sleek black dress,

and hold you close, my dear,

whispering sweet nothings into your ear

(that sound like threats

and love letters).

And he'll drop you, darling,

let you fall - fall -





and who will catch you?

Not him, sweetheart, never him -

this is what war does.

(It dies).

It's full of travesty

and shoulder blades;

200 lashes to expose the flesh.


and you're probably condemning a man to death.

Fear whispers,


- flutters in the dark -

and darling, you are left alone once more,

spewed from your country and forgotten.

Bound to the dark edge of the earth,

watching him be chained

to the earth beneath,

eyes mad,

voice breaking,

and wrists straining against the steel.


He doesn't leave you,

won't ever leave you,

and if you call into the night a single name,

who will be left to comfort you?

Death, of course.

Wars have been fought for less.

(You don't have to read the future to know

that Dominique Weasley is going to be hanged.)


Has he told you how he escaped?

He was going to be sent to Newgate.

(He wished he had been.)

((Fought his own personal war.))

(He could've been rowing on the Thames,

like he used to.)

He told them he'd rather be dead,

than rot in a prison cell,

watching Victorian London from his window.

So close.

(Never close enough, darling;

what do you think sealed the deal?)

So they made him a promise.

His life

for his death.

They said, "Hang -

and we'll give you a kingdom.

Fall -

and we'll give you freedom.

But live?

Live and we'll give you nothing but a life in the gallows."

When they say to you,

hang or be hanged,

what do you do?

His death was horrible, darling -

body hanging,

eyes closing,

tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth like a puppet.

And so he rules,

over his colony of wretched souls.

(If you treat them like corpses,

of course they will die).

How can you see what humanity

lives under rags and riches?

He judges you, my dear,

it's what he does,

because what kind of Death is peaceful?


So, darling,

he has seen the white of your animal bones,

your fluttering heart,

your wretched blood -

so, Dominique,

are you feeling modest?

Don't worry;

he'll make it quick.

If the rope's too short it won't hang you -

if it's too long,

that pretty head will roll.

Remember how the last one danced?

Everyone laughed.

And you watched him die, do you remember?

In the midst of war, and he died,

he left you, lonely.

You made a speech, held his hand,

and Death looked on -

and took your lover, your love.

Jealously is such an ugly trait, but my dear,

it comes with the job.

You said if he lived,

you'd stay with him.

If he lived -

if he lived, you would love him.

And if he died, you'd never forgive him. And guess what?

You can't be an angel 'til you're dead.


And love,

if you think about it,

you left your country for your country's good.

No war needs a martyr.

So you dance your last dance,

and spin off stage,

and do you know who is waiting in the wings?

A boy with dark hair and dark eyes,

smirk beckoning,

heartbeat fluttering,

hands pulling and tugging -

he is a demon trapped in the body of an angel,

wings strapped to his back,

halo rusty,

out of place.

He hung himself in Newgate,

dreaming of the river Thames -

he is out of his time, did you know?

He belongs in fairytales, but not as the hero,

never as the hero.

James Potter;

you don't know why he did it.

Love, you suppose.

But darling, for whatever reason,

he wears a black mask and a gloved hand,

a rifle strapped to his back,

and he dances with you -

a devil's waltz -

and for some reason, you are intrigued.


And none will doubt that your emigration

has proved most useful

to the wizarding nation.

After all,

what good were you to your family?

- what good were you to their war? -

Going through life with your head in the clouds

(halfway to heaven)

but still with your feet buried in the ground.

(halfway to hell)

A disgrace to your family,

hell-bent on revenge - on who, you ask?

Well, that doesn't particularly matter, now,

does it?

You danced your last dance;

took a ride with the devil,

and never looked back.

He twisted the tongue in your mouth,

let the tears fall from your lips,

and he hung you by your ankles,

but what would you care?

Anything's better than Newgate

(apart from that's not your life,


that's not you).

Maybe in another life,


you would've been more.

Maybe he wouldn't have been hanged,

feet hovering above a wooden floor,

carved from different trees.


Maybe he would've held you,

maybe you would've met his parents and siblings;

(-Lily and Albus, he told you, once-)

((-left to heaven-))

(((-left him-)))

maybe he would've sat in the audience

when you danced your little heart out,

brown eyes glistening

in the spotlight.

(Little girl,

haven't you been taught to run away from the light?)


But welcome my dear

to the aftermath of the after-party,

to the gravestones

and the medals never worn.

Your heels have stabbed

more people than your hands,


your heart will flutter

more than your broken wings,

and you have danced more steps

than you've ever walked.

You're a mistress of the dead,

and yes,

your family will miss you,

and yes, your gravestone will be made of marble,

but darling, sweetie, you belong down here.

Entranced. Enraptured.

Did you think he would let you go?

You are dead, my dear,

so dance for eternity,

and learn that the devil's war

is with himself.