Actions Quieter Than Words

An Avengers–HariPo crossover

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and I praise Stan Lee and Marvel for their wonderful brainchildren, too. My third ever crossover! :D *Set after Marvel's The Avengers, as well as past the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, though I don't plan on spoiling all that much. Please excuse my toying with timelines, too. Read, review, and enjoy! Note: This is in the SAME UNIVERSE AS "unwarranted variables" and "The Last Light Left" and, while it is not necessary to read those first, you might enjoy this better after reading them. :]

- ^-^3

Dominique Weasley rubbed her face with her hands when no one was looking. She'd already had a long day, and it didn't help that it was only half over.

"HEY!" she shouted over the ruckus of her classroom. The students in spotless shades of blue all stared at her. They knew she meant business when she spoke English. "Turn to page two-hundred-forty and answer the following questions," she told them in French. She flicked her wand, making her review questions appear on the board. None of the students in her Transfiguration class were expecting that; that was one of the good things about writing the assignment in the morning and then hiding it with a simple Concealment Charm.

They pouted until the end of class, and Dominique's headache went away as lunch appeared. With the students gone from her presence, Dominique relaxed by manually cleaning up her classroom. Sometimes magic was a bit too much for the circumstances.

The Weasley woman ate a quiet lunch by herself, breezed through her evening lectures, and greeted dinner as a welcome friend. In the main hall of Beauxbatons Palace, Dominique sat down at the staff table, to the right of Headmistress Olympe Maxime and on the other side of Gabrielle Delacour-Wood, Dominique's maternal aunt.

Gabrielle patted her hand gently. "Dominique, you look so terribly fatigued."

Dominique frowned and sighed. It was nice to hear her aunt speak English. Gabrielle had married Oliver Wood, Keeper for Puddlemere United, several years ago, but Gabrielle counted that as only one of many reasons for working on her English. And though Beauxbatons was in the southeast of France and the language the school used was French, Dominique only felt at home when she heard clips of her native tongue. "I'm only a bit tired," she fibbed.

Her aunt watched her for a while and then smirked over the edge of her goblet. "Dominique, I know you. You are a little sister. I am a little sister. You and I think the same way."

It was true. Dominique had always been rather close to her aunt, though she felt that she and her siblings had always been closer to Gabrielle than to their other blood aunt, Ginny. But maybe that was just due to the fact that they didn't see Gabrielle as often growing up, so it was more of a treat. And Dominique did rather agree with her aunt about their closeness being special—the younger sisters, allying every now and then. "I guess…it's just a little…"

"You are in a rut, yes?"

"Maybe." Dominique glimpsed sideways at Madame Maxime. Dominique would hate for her to overhear this conversation.

Gabrielle nodded. "It happens, even to the best of us." She ate her meal so delicately as she offered the younger witch some advice. "Dominique, you have been working here for more than five years. The charm has, eh…worn off. Of Beauxbatons, of Cannes, of France altogether. It is different when France is your home." Her blue eyes lingered on her niece. "You are the only one of your siblings who attached herself to her mother's heritage. But do not forget that that is not necessarily your heritage."

Dominique opened her mouth and closed it. She didn't consider herself French; she simply loved the culture and teaching at this school. Yet perhaps Gabrielle was right. Her thoughtful insight made Dominique grin. She'd heard a handful of students remark that they thought the arts professor was only thoughtful about artsy things…they had no clue how intelligent Gabrielle really was.

After dinner, Gabrielle walked Dominique to her room. "Dominique…you should think about your future here, cherie. Just because you have worked here for years does not mean you should stay here for the rest of them." She hugged Dominique's shoulders and bid her goodnight then.

Gabrielle's words left Dominique thinking. One of the points for Dominique working at Beauxbatons was that Maxime saw in her a like spirit—enough that the woman was training her as the school's deputy headmistress. One day, Dominique would be the headmistress of this school, a school she had never attended but one she loved with all her heart nevertheless. But for now…that dream seemed far, far off, almost out of Dominique's grasp.

The woman groaned and peeked at her reflection in her vanity mirror. Since when had she started thinking this way?

- ^-^3

The rest of the week dragged on, and it was not until Saturday morning when Dominique felt relaxed. However, she was just as nervous.

She stood outside Maxime's office door, her hand poised to knock. Eventually she did rap on it, and the door swung open. It was a little different from the spiral staircase leading to McGonagall's office back at Hogwarts. It was more elegant, not so ancient. The elegance of the palace was yet another thing that made Dominique wonder if her planned path was the right one for her, for she didn't consider herself much of an elegant woman.

Olympe Maxime was writing a letter when Dominique entered. She finished, put it aside, and lifted her head in greeting to her apprentice. "Dominique," she said, her French accent thick.

Dominique smiled. Maxime had been a bit of a fairytale to her when she was little, because Fleur had taken Dominique and her siblings to visit Maxime a few times when they were little, as Fleur still greatly admired her former headmistress. And, in working with her, Dominique definitely had affection for the older woman, like a third grandmother. "Madame Maxime."

"Would you caire to 'ave some tea?" Maxime asked, speaking heavily accentuated English.

"Actually, perhaps another time."

"Oh?"

"Yes." Dominique stepped forward until she stood before her boss' desk. "I have a matter."

"And I can 'elp?"

"I think so…" The young woman twisted her hands, looking for the right words. "Ah, um…"

Maxime smiled gently and motioned for her to sit. "Whatever eet eez, eet must be serious. Please, take your time," she said slowly.

"I think…" Dominique took a breath. "I think I need to take a sabbatical."

The giantess' eyes widened. She could never have expected to hear such words from Dominique. "For 'ow long?"

"I'm not sure."

Maxime frowned, but not in disappointment. She did appear genuinely concerned for Dominique. "I 'ave never 'eard of you asking for such things." She lightly chuckled. "I recall a few 'olidays when I 'ad to send you 'ome."

The blonde tried to chuckle, but she couldn't force it. "I know… And I'm sorry. It's a challenge, being here—one I know I can take." Her shoulders sagged as she wondered if this was just the beginning of her throwing in the towel. "But, I at least need to clear my head."

"Eet eez called, agh…" Maxime spoke a phrase in French.

Dominique blinked. "'Seven-year itch'? You think that's what I have?"

The headmistress shrugged. "Even I once doubted zat I should lead zis school, Dominique. Eet eez ze only thing I can theenk of, for something similair 'appened to me."

The words were surprising. "I see… I never would've guessed…"

"Eet 'appens to ze best of us, I believe," the other woman said rather nostalgically. She turned and glanced out her window to glimpse the bright blue sky. Though it was mid-April and still chillier than normal outside, the sky was brilliant. Maxime turned back to her protégé. "Do you 'ave plans?"

Dominique shook her head. "I thought I'd take some time off during the next school year…"

Maxime shook her head. "Non, zat will not do for me." She rifled through a stack of parchment on her desk. For such a glamorous woman, Maxime could be awfully disorganized. "I theenk…you should take ze rest of zis school year off."

The blonde's hazel eyes widened. "You're kidding."

"No. Eet eez ze easiest time. You 'ave your lessons planned out, yes?"

"Well, yes—"

"And your exams are already written?"

"Of course, but I—"

"Please, leave eet to me." Maxime smiled warmly. "You 'ave done seventy-five percent of your work simply by preparing. I am sure I can manage to oversee your classes while you rest. As long," the headmistress continued with a pointing finger, "as you do not forget to plan for ze coming yeair."

A huge wave of relief washed over Dominique. To have such a chance—! She couldn't fathom this. But, she also knew when not to look a gift-hippogriff in the mouth. She stood and thanked her boss profusely. "Really, thank you—I don't know what I'll do with my time, but I will make the most of it."

Maxime nodded. "Knowing you, I 'ave no doubt, Dominique. I 'ear," she added as Dominique left, "zat ze north eez lovely zis time of yeair…"

Dominique was so excited that she nearly missed Maxime's suggestion, but it got her thinking and only deepened her excitement. The north! Northern France! She hadn't been to Paris in years, and she'd only ever visited Versailles once. Or she could go to somewhere in Normandy, maybe overlooking the English Channel. Heck, she could probably even go home for the time being…

When she arrived at her quarters in the palace, Dominique slowed down and mulled over her most recent thought. Good Merlin, go home to England? She still went home every Christmas—or tried to, because she was a Weasley and that's what Weasleys did—but she hadn't spent any real time there since graduating from Hogwarts. After school, it had been a whirlwind of work for her: She'd studied under McGonagall for a short period of two years before leaving to work under the former Transfiguration professor here at Beauxbatons and under Maxime's guidance. She'd worked all this time, and she'd become a real professor four years ago.

Still, she was young. A part of her yelled at her for finding a routine so early on in life. That part of her also reminded her of what she'd left behind in England…

Dominique didn't want to think about that, though, so she tuned it out and packed. Northward, ho!

- ^-^3

Gabrielle promised she wouldn't rat her out to their family. "If you want to see them, I know you will see them," she told her niece the following morning before Dominique's departure.

"Thank you. I appreciate that." Dominique patted her purse. "I've got everything I think I'll need… Oh, and Madame Maxime has everything she needs for my classes. And you've got the books I gave you in case Maxime doesn't understand something?" Dominique frowned. "I had to cast a hasty Translation Charm on my notes, but that charm can be wonky…"

Gabrielle tittered. "Then you should start writing your notes in French to begin with, cherie."

The two women chuckled over Dominique's bad habit and hugged. "Merlin, I will miss this place…"

"Not for long," the older witch said. "Enjoy the spring and the summer. You'll be back here before you know it."

Dominique nodded, and then she left Beauxbatons Palace.

Beauxbatons Palace was close to the Mediterranean, and Dominique had come to love the smell of the water. It had become something akin to the smell of home…which made sense, since Shell Cottage was close to the sea, as well. Even the Burrow was near water—that of marshland. The more Dominique thought about it, the stronger her urge grew to head to the Normandy region right away.

But as she was unfamiliar with the region, she figured it a safer bet at least to visit Paris and Versailles first.

Dominique produced her broom and found a safe spot to mount it. Then, up in the skies, she began to feel less uneasy. Flying was something else she missed. Often when leaving the palace for any extended duration of time, she went by Portkey or borrowed one of the school carriages at Maxime's insistence. Flying had become something of a luxury to her, she realized.

Hours flew by. She flew over Lyon and through Burgundy, but it was nightfall when she saw Parisian lights. She landed a little to the east, oppositely-directed from Versailles, and hailed a taxicab into the city. She figured she deserved the splurge, and entering Paris in an inconspicuous manner was a good way to kick off her time off.

Paris…was breathtaking. It wasn't quite bustling, like London, but it had its own vitality, vivacity. Here in Paris, Dominique didn't have to go many blocks without hearing music, and the smells in Parisian bakeries and late-night cafés… There was no comparison.

She wondered what to do first. She'd actually never had this amount of freedom before, so it was intimidating as well as refreshing. Dominique knew she'd have to find a place to sleep, at least for the night, but she kept getting distracted by her surroundings. The architecture was astounding, and the people-watching was at its best. Twice Dominique found herself amused by a man and then a woman talking to their little dogs as one would talk to a child; the man and woman even fed their respective pets like babies. It was wonderfully absurd.

Still, the more Dominique walked and became enchanted with the nightlife, the more her leg muscles ached and screamed at her. She hadn't the foggiest as to how long or far she'd walked, but a glance at her watch told her that she had to find a place to stay.

There was no shortage of hotels and the like in the city, but Dominique avoided the flashier ones. Even on the decent money she made as Maxime's right-hand woman, the witch understood she could never afford even one night in those kinds of places.

She came upon one on the outskirts of the city, though. It was called the Champion, from the French, and it looked cozy enough… Dominique shrugged and glanced at the Moon high up in the sky. Even if the Champion was still a bit beyond her means, she really would have to put up with that for one night. Besides, she could always look elsewhere tomorrow, if need be.

It turned out that the Champion had reasonable rates. Dominique thought herself lucky, but she still paid for only one night anyway. She got a room on the second floor, and she dropped her purse and cloak on the chair before snacking on the complimentary crackers and little tubs of peanut butter and jellies that came in every room. The things Muggles came up with…!

Dominique observed the room. It was a little bigger than "small," but it would do, especially since she was travelling alone. There was a bed in the opposite corner from the kitchenette, and a washroom was adjacent to the television. The telly was a temptation; Dominique had always been jealous of her cousins, James, Al, and Lily, because at least one of their parents had grown up with tellies and hadn't outgrown them. On the other hand, neither of Dominique's parents had ever shown much interest in such Muggle contraptions.

The blonde witch resisted the television for a little longer, though. She went over to the window and enjoyed the view instead. On this side of the building, there weren't as many streetlights, so Dominique could identify some stars. Really, the Moon was more distracting. It was so bright though not full—

Something else caught her eye.

The reflected light of the Moon was reflecting off something shiny down on the street below. It took Dominique several moments before she saw movement and determined that it was, stunningly, the hair on a person. She thought the person must have blond or white hair, though she couldn't quite tell from how he was staying mostly hidden in the shadows of the awning of the business next door to the Champion.

It was a little entertaining, but the novelty wore off. Dominique retired to the couch and turned on the telly, only to nod off to some strange variety program.

- ^-^3

She snored.

That much was obvious when she awoke a few hours later with a choking jostle and smacked her lips. Dominique frowned. She hated snorers, and she hated that she hadn't realized it sooner that she herself was one.

She rubbed her eyes and looked at the digital clock atop the telly. "5:00," it read. As it was still dark out, she knew it was much too early to be awake already.

Dominique decided she'd finish her sleep in the bed, and so she went to change. …yet she walked by the window again.

Mr. Blondie (she decided he had platinum blond hair like her) was still there.

She blinked. How often did people just…stay up on the streets of Paris? She had no clue, and it wasn't as though her mother or aunt or even her Grandma Apple or Grandfather Delacour had said anything. Dominique frowned.

Mr. Blondie was propped up against the streetlight. But…he wasn't moving.

Dominique wanted to believe that he was sleeping standing up…but the nurturer in her—oh, what a Hufflepuff she truly was!—urged her at least to check on him. It bothered her, the idea of knowing someone looked to be in trouble and not doing anything about it. Besides, there was no guarantee that anyone else had seen him.

She threw on her cloak and double-checked that she'd tucked her wand into her sleeve, should she need it. Thankfully, she was only one floor up, so there were few stairs and fewer feet to the outside. Though, once outside, Dominique had to get her bearings and try to figure out where her room was when looking at the building from the outside.

She found it, though, and—sure enough—Mr. Blondie was still propped up against the lamppost. Dominique approached him cautiously. She couldn't hear him breathing, so she squinted in the dim light and waited until she saw his chest moving and decided he was still alive. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Her sigh was loud enough to wake him. Or maybe his hearing was just that sharp. Either way, Mr. Blondie awoke, alert, and turned his head her way. It startled her.

"Vous parlez francais?" she asked.

Even in the dim light, Mr. Blondie's face reddened. "Uh, sorry… Only English."

Dominique nodded. "And American English, at that," she remarked.

His blush deepened, but he looked relieved. "Oh, wow. Finally. I haven't heard one word of English since I got here."

"Are you all right, sir?" Though, as she said it, it seemed odd to be calling him "sir." She got the feeling that he was older than her, but not by a whole lot. He had a young-looking face, very chiseled like she expected an American man to have, though his hair was slicked back in a very gentlemanly style, either British-like or just dated. His eyes were light and large, and he towered over her. Americans really could be giants!

"Uh…" He rubbed the back of his neck, and she noted his clothes. While casual, they weren't disheveled. He was very clean and clean-cut. "I…I guess I am…"

"Pardon my intrusion, but I saw you out here hours ago."

Mr. Blondie sighed. "Yeah… That's because I have euros, but I can't figure out how to spend them in this place," he said, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the Champion.

"You need to get a room for the night?"

"Yeah, just the night. But the staff doesn't speak English, I guess. Or maybe they don't like Americans?" He furrowed his brow.

Dominique smiled gently. She'd seen few Americans early in the evening, but, yes, most natives looked down on foreigners to some extent, so Dominique wasn't all that surprised by his story. "May I translate for you, then? It really isn't wise to sleep on the street."

The color returned to his cheeks, but he nodded. "Thank you so much. Helping a stranger… I thought that was almost unheard of these days."

"Oh?" she prompted as she led him into the lobby.

"Yeah… I was in New York recently, and even being kind there got me the funniest looks." His tone turned wistful. "Maybe it's not the location so much as the times…"

Whatever he meant by that, she didn't bother questioning. She felt better having a clear conscience as they secured him a room. The worker at the desk took down the necessary information (ah, so his name was "Steve Rogers") and got him a room, though it would have to be for one night only as a favor, since he had no credit card number for which the hotel could use as collateral. Even Dominique and her siblings had one to use just in case of emergencies in the Muggle world (though, now that she was an adult and had been one for several years, her parents had given up on learning the confounded system and let Victoire learn it and teach her younger siblings).

"Thank you very much, miss," Steve said to her, pulling Dominique from her straying thoughts.

"It's no problem," she replied, dazzled by his white smile. Holy Helga! So they still made them like this these days.

He ducked his head bashfully. "You were a great help, really." He fidgeted. "Um, well…goodnight."

"Goodnight," she echoed with an equally charming smile. She pretended not to notice that he'd been given room 205…the one next to hers. So she gave him a five-minute head start before she returned to her own room for some real, actually well-deserved shuteye.

- ^-^3

Steve Rogers the handsome stranger was the last thing on Dominique's mind the following afternoon. Because of the late-night events, though, she'd slept in. She awoke sometime shortly before noon, and so she dressed, determined to find a fine lunch at one of the cafés she'd passed by last night before she'd reached the Champion.

Dominique pinned her hair up, tucked her wand into her sleeve, and grabbed her purse, though she still hadn't decided if she was going to leave.

The witch thought maybe one more night might be okay, and so she headed downstairs and went to the front desk before anything else.

"Ah! Miss!"

…but that voice caught her before she got to the front desk.

Steve Rogers had been sitting in the lobby, presumably waiting for her. He looked the same as last night, clean and clean-cut, but now Dominique got a good look at him. His hair was not as light as hers, but it was a strong, golden yellow. And, as stereotype would have it, he had crystal clear blue eyes. And they really were lovely. Dominique would know; her parents and her older sister all had blue eyes while she and her brother, Louis, had Weasley brown, but Dominique had never seen prettier eyes.

"Good morning, Mr. Rogers." She nodded politely to him.

He kept his hands out of his pockets—such manners!—while he spoke with her. "I never caught your name." There was that winning smile again.

Dominique debated for a split-second. Steve Rogers was good-looking and appeared timid… He looked like a good guy, as in compared to a villain, in his khakis and brown bomber jacket. Then again, she was a highly-trained witch with friends and family in high places. It couldn't hurt to tell him at least her name. "I am Dominique Weasley."

"That's a very pretty name, Miss Weasley." Yet, coming from him, she heard no taunting or teasing. He sounded as though he genuinely meant it.

Dominique felt her face grow warm and she held up a hand so that he could give her a minute. She took the respite to settle things for another night's stay. When she'd prepared herself, she returned to conversation with the American. "I apologize. I took on one more night."

"Ah, really?" Steve nodded. "I would've, had I had one of those blasted cards…"

"If I might ask, how did you ever land in France without one?"

"Well, some friends dropped me off. It's only thanks to them that I even have any money on me."

Dominique nodded. "You're a little stranded, though, without a card."

"I wasn't planning on staying long anyway." Steve looked outside. "Paris was just the easiest place for them to drop me, as they had to be on their way." His profile looked a little hard then, but his features softened once more when he faced her again. "Might I…treat you to a meal? As thanks for last night."

"Oh, no need!" She held up her hands to insist.

"Are you sure?" Something in his eyes wouldn't let her say no.

"…Mr. Rogers, do you need a translator for a day?" she guessed.

Steve deflated. "Is it that obvious?"

Dominique hesitated. She had been looking to escape her norm… "It's all right. I'd be more than happy to be your guide for the day."

"Are you sure?"

"Very."

"All right, then." He seemed surprised, though he said nothing. He went and held the door open for her. "Please. Ladies first."

Dominique giggled. This was definitely outside her norm…!

But, even considering that, she rather enjoyed the day spent with Steve. Before, Dominique had always felt like the outsider, coming and living in France and teaching at Beauxbatons. Now she had the chance to feel like a local as she told him all she knew about Paris and France in general—magical topics withheld, of course.

Steve seemed eager to soak up as much as he could, but he was an oddball. While he listened to what she said about their surroundings, he zeroed in on contemporary things, as if he'd never heard of them or maybe he'd only heard them mentioned once before. Things like cellphone use, all the updated forms of transit, and the shocking variety and number of devices the people around them were using—Dominique couldn't tell him everything because she didn't know a whole lot more than him. But it was interesting; it was almost as though he weren't a Muggle.

Dominique had an idea.

"I must say, though. Some people are so scary these days, obsessing over their electronics. It's like a Dementor's sucked out their souls," she said casually.

Steve turned and gave her a confused look. "Like a what?"

Dominique reddened. How silly she was! Steve wasn't a wizard at all. "Oh, sorry—like a demon's sucked out their souls."

"I guess." Steve shrugged. "It's a strange world, Miss Weasley."

"That it is, Mr. Rogers."

The day was vivid and hazy all at once. Chatting with Steve was easy, yet Dominique knew she was doing most of the talking. Still, Steve was, at least judging by first impressions, nothing but a big teddy bear.

When they returned to the Champion that evening, Dominique was reluctant to split with him. She was enjoying his company. It was a welcome change after Beauxbatons, especially considering that the school was estrogen-dominant despite being coed. "So…," she drew out. "Might I ask where you're planning to head next?"

Steve's eyes darkened sadly. "Northwest, to Normandy."

Her eyes widened. Would it be wise to reveal her own plans? Maybe… "I'm going there myself," she blurted before she could think it over further.

He was stunned. "Really? Well, I…" He shook his head. "I hope you get there safely then." He nodded to her. "Goodnight, Miss Weasley."

"Ah, Mr. Rogers—" Dominique reached out and caught his arm on an impulse. She blushed and released him. "Pardon my forthrightness…but perhaps…we could travel together?"

Steve frowned. "That's mighty generous of you, Miss Weasley. But I'll be all right."

"I insist." Her eyes darted to the front desk. "In fact, please let me convince the hotel to let you stay another night, and then we can depart in the morning."

He adamantly shook his head. "I couldn't ask for that. Nor would I even dream of it."

"It's fine." Dominique went to the front desk and haggled until Steve was allowed one more night's stay. When she returned to him, she motioned for them to head upstairs. "It's always nice to have a travelling companion."

Steve furrowed his brow, but he looked grateful. "At the very least, let me pay you back," he said, handing her a fistful of euros.

"How about I take half of that large offering, and you just pay for yourself for the rest of the way?"

He nodded. "Sounds like a deal." He paused when he realized they were outside his room. "This is me," Steve said.

Dominique went to her own room. "And this is me. Goodnight, Mr. Rogers. See you in the morning."

"…goodnight, Miss Weasley. See you…in the morning."

Dominique chuckled to herself once she was inside. She was beginning to get accustomed to the sight of Steve Rogers turning strawberry pink.

- ^-^3

They checked out early the next morning. Dominique asked for directions to the closest train station, and the duo made their way there.

"We'll take the train for most of the way," the witch told the American as they bought their tickets. "After that, well… It's the countryside. We might need to take a cab or two."

"Or we could walk. I don't mind walking," Steve said.

"And I'm sure you're very fit, but I have no faith in my own stamina," she commented with a laugh.

While they waited for the train, Steve grabbed a newspaper. But he didn't like what he read, for the next thing Dominique saw, he was throwing it away.

She glanced at him, but he wasn't looking at her. "Bad weather today?"

"Very," he answered.

For the first time since she'd met him, they sat in silence. Steve, she mused, was a very mysterious person for someone so polite. She liked to think that innocent people held no secrets, but she gave that hypothesis some more consideration. In actuality, it was absurd. It was all too easy to be innocent oneself while keeping someone else's secrets. She had experience with that; it had been no fault of her own that her older sister, Victoire, had had a major crush on their former Herbology professor, Neville Longbottom, and had tried dating him for a short amount of time a few years after school and after Victoire had given up on the novelty of being with Teddy. …this train of thought took Dominique to her sister, and she wondered how she was doing working in America. She hadn't heard from her for months. (Mentally she made a note to owl or Floo her later…)

When the train came, Dominique and Steve found their seats. Dominique insisted that he take the window seat.

"I can point out some things to you, here and there," she said.

Steve raised his eyebrows. "You really do know a lot about the country. You're from England, though, right?"

"Yes. But my mother's French. She moved to England shortly after she finished her schooling, and she actually met my father during her last year, in the short time before the war—" She froze.

"War?"

She didn't blame him for looking so confused. She had to be more careful. Of course Muggles wouldn't know about the Second Wizarding War. Still…it hurt her as she realized for the first time how hard it was to interact with Muggles. Befriending them and more was tough because she could never share all of her history. It was an awful thought, as her existence as well as the existence of her siblings and cousins depended solely on the war. All of their parents had been brought together either through the war or the events leading up to it. It was the same case with Dominique's school friends. They were all part of the baby boom in the decade after 1998… The witch struggled to explain her slip-up. "Uh, yes, a war… It was more of a local conflict kind of thing between old families"—well, it wasn't that far from the truth—"and one of my uncles actually took up arms and won." Dominique tried to laugh it off. "I guess it's such an important bit of personal history that the conflict's been elevated to the description of a war."

Steve, to her surprise, frowned. "For a minute there, you had me worried. I feel as though this century's riddled with wars, more so than the world used to be."

"I'm sorry…did my term offend you?"

"Not very." Steve cupped his cheek in his palm and eyed her. "I think I'm just becoming an overly sensitive person when I didn't expect to."

His words quieted her, and his stare was uncomfortable at first. But then Dominique seized the moment and stared right back, appraisingly.

Steve smiled, and she noted a hint of sadness as the smile reached his eyes. "So…a half-French woman coming from…?"

"Cannes. I'm…a teacher. Though we're called 'professors.'"

"I see. What do you teach?"

It was a question that opened a can of Flobberworms, in Dominique's opinion. For the next hour, she stumbled through a slew of flimsy and half-original ideas to explain what she did for a living. The best she got was that she was a science teacher (Steve assumed chemistry, whatever that was, by her description of transforming things into other items) at an elite school housed in an old palace.

"I can picture that," the man remarked.

Dominique wondered what he was picturing: her the schoolteacher or her as an elegant lady dwelling in a palace? "Then tell me, since I've divulged so much to you. What does the American man do in his spare time?"

For a fleeting moment, his jaw hardened. But then he gave it some thought, and Dominique wondered if he was looking to explain his way out of a sticky situation as she had just done. Finally, he sighed. "I'm a soldier," he confessed.

"Oh?"

"I've been one…since forever, it seems. And I doubt I can escape that life."

The witch sat back in her seat and watched him out of the corner of her eye. "You've only ever been a soldier?"

He nodded. "I'm on leave, though," he added as an afterthought, as if he wanted to assure her that he wasn't being hunted as a deserter.

"It's hard," she agreed. "When you've only ever done one thing. It's hard to escape it, because you don't know what else to do."

Steve nodded again. He leaned back in his seat, too, and glanced at her. "You know a lot, for a schoolteacher." He paused and blushed. He hadn't meant for that to sound so rude.

Dominique chuckled. "It's all right. It's my job to know a lot. I plan to be headmistress of my school someday."

"That's an admirable ambition."

"We all have one, don't we?"

He was so quiet, she had to check and see if he'd fallen asleep. "You'd think so…"

Their conversation died down then. Dominique hadn't meant to let him sink so far into his thoughts, but she was at a loss as to how to pull him back out again. In the end, she closed her eyes and dozed, hoping that they'd both be in a better mood when she awoke.

- ^-^3

She ended up napping much of the ride away. The times when she was awake, she checked to see how Steve was doing.

Sometimes he was lost in thought, staring out the window as the scenery flashing by them. Other times he twiddled his thumbs in his lap. Still other times she woke to find him having dozed off. Several times his head had fallen on her shoulder, but she didn't hold it against him. She was guilty, too: She'd woken with her head on his should three times already. But he didn't seem to mind.

They chatted some more, too. Well, she chatted, and he listened. He was curious about her, and he liked listening to stories of her family. "That's a mighty big family."

She rolled her eyes. "You have no idea. It's enough of a handful with Victoire and Louis alone. Then you add in all the cousins and aunts and uncles and family friends close enough to the family that they feel like more aunts, uncles, and cousins—it's insane."

He chuckled. "Must be nice, though. Where I grew up—in Brooklyn, New York—everyone knew everyone, too. So there was no escaping the consequences when you got into a fight halfway across the neighborhood; your mother was bound to know his mother. It was the same when I went to school; you think you make a friend using your own connections. The next thing you know, you go home together and your parents are chatting and planning a shared meal."

"Sounds nice."

"Yeah, I liked it, too."

Not long after, the scenery became flatter, the foliage less dense. Dominique reached across him and pointed. "Look at that. I bet if we were outside, we could already smell the water."

"Really? Interesting." But he said it in a distracted way, and he fidgeted in his seat.

She peeked at him…and backed off. She'd invaded his personal space. Even as she sat back down, her arm brushed across him. She quickly brought her arms down on her armrests and double-checked that her legs were in her own space. Handsome and kind though he was, Steve Rogers was still an unfamiliar face. (Though that, she realized, was becoming a lie; Steve Rogers had an unforgettable face.)

The train took them as far as Rouen, but then they were on their own. Dominique asked around and tried to find a cab to take them farther, but she had little luck. They managed to get one cab, but they were dropped off somewhere she didn't recognize. It was almost as frustrating as getting her students to focus in class when the weather got warm.

"We should try looking for shelter, as it's nighttime again," Dominique told Steve. "Hard to believe we spent almost two days on a train."

"It's not so bad. I kind of enjoyed that," he commented as they walked to a small village down the hill.

The village was modern, but it was also fairly empty. They managed to find a kind of bed-and-breakfast, and they booked two rooms without any trouble. It seemed the further out they went, the further standard cash could take them, so Steve didn't feel as much of a burden.

Being in a bed-and-breakfast was another nice change of pace for Dominique, too. Waking up only a little later than she normally would for school and going downstairs to find breakfast awaiting her—Dominique was almost homesick for Beauxbatons. But then Steve came downstairs minutes after her, and that feeling went away.

The next several days were like this, hopping from little inn to little bed-and-breakfast. Two of them were hard to leave, as the owners each had young families, and the families didn't want to see them leave. The children loved Dominique, and she could handle them because she remembered the time when she and Louis had been younger, and she remembered when their cousins had been young, too. The children loved Steve, as well, but in a similar way that the adults did—it was rare to get Americans in this part of France, and so even if they didn't ask him much of anything, they did enjoy staring at him.

Despite the difficulty in finding transport to the coast, the duo managed to pass the week and distance by alternating walking, hitchhiking, and staying at those kinds of places. In that time… Well, Dominique felt comfortable in Steve's company. Once, she noticed that having him at her side kept leering men away, but that wasn't really a worry in her mind. When talking with Steve, she kind of forgot about her surroundings.

And that was understandable. When talking with her, Steve's attention was wholly on her. His eyes never strayed. He always stayed on topic. Dominique was thoroughly impressed. She admired a soldier's focus. She wanted to test it. "Do you ever get distracted?" she asked him suddenly, interrupting him for once as they walked at early sunset to yet another hamlet.

"Huh?" he said. Ah. Maybe he could be distracted. "Uh, well…" Whatever their previous topic had been fell away as he stroked his chin. "I've never noticed whether I get that way or not." He glanced at Dominique. "Why? Have I said something?" He frowned.

Dominique's chest tightened and her face flushed. "No, no, you're fine!" she emphasized, dismissing his worry with a wave of her hand. "I'm just impressed by your ability to converse. I mean, you don't see that these days." She grinned brightly. "You're such a gentleman, Steve."

He smiled…and, for the first time, Dominique saw more than sadness in his eyes. She saw age.

She tore her eyes away, seizing the comfortable moment of silence between them. Age? Steve? But she was sure he was barely older than she was. Still, she couldn't shake that look in his eyes, as if he'd gone a round or two with Voldemort himself…

When they reached the hamlet, they went right to the café for food and directions to a place to stay. The café reminded Dominique of the Leaky Cauldron, since it turned out there were a few rooms in the back. Of course, there was only one free room, and they'd have to share…but at this point Dominique no longer minded. Convincing Steve that she'd be all right was another matter, and so she let him dither about the wrongness of it while she went and found a newspaper to distract her. Thinking about The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler, she realized she'd never gone so long without the news. (She rather wished she had either publication on her right now, too.)

She flipped through the sections, skimming the local news. Judging by what it said of surrounding communities, she and Steve were only about a day out from the coast. Their little journey together was almost over. …she tried not to grimace at the idea.

Towards the back of the paper were a few international topics. One was interesting, and the pictures were so vibrant that Dominique rather expected them to move on the page, like in a Wizarding paper. The main article concerned the Avengers—America's newest superheroes—and what they were doing now. Dominique had heard of them (hadn't everyone?), but she'd never thought much of them before, not with living in the Wizarding world. She'd only ever wondered if they were flashy wizards and witches in disguise.

Still, the article's few photos were pretty good. The face of the thing called the "Hulk" was distinct, and Iron Man's shiny face a little blurry. The article said that Iron Man's civilian side, Anthony Stark, was keeping a low profile somewhere in New York while his former secretary, Pepper Potts, ran his company from their D.C. office. It said nothing of the Hulk, Black Widow, or Hawkeye, and the most it said about Captain America was that he'd been heading east, and the article mused that maybe that meant Europe.

Dominique paused.

The photo of Captain America… It was almost as good as the photo of the Hulk. Which meant that, though Captain America wore a mask, his face was rather prominent… It would be easy to miss the resemblance if no one knew him…

Dominique's gut twisted. Because she felt she knew him.

But was Steve Rogers really Captain America, the superhero?

- ^-^3

Somehow, Steve reconciled with himself and shared the remaining room with Dominique. When Dominique retired to the room for the night, he'd already showered and put his outfit back on. Right. They'd come wearing only the clothes on their backs. (Well, Dominique had more in her purse, but she certainly couldn't wear them without making him suspicious of her.)

"It's still early," she said to him, as he was stretched out on the bed. But he was clinging to the edge in an effort to make himself as small as possible, she guessed.

Steve rubbed a hand over his face. "Sorry. I think the travelling's finally caught up with me."

"It's fine." Dominique fidgeted in front of the floor-length mirror in the room. "Would you like me to get the light?"

"I can sleep with it on, no problem."

She frowned. "Right." She walked over to the bed and turned it off anyway. Then she lay down on her side of the bed, her mind buzzing.

The room was quiet, except for their breathing. She listened to his breaths for ten full minutes, but she still didn't feel tired. But what to do? Walk around the café? Walk around the hamlet? Go for a night fly? No, no, and no.

The witch bit her lower lip. Normally she prided herself on having the manners in her family, as Victoire could be pigheaded and Louis was standoffish. But all she wanted to do was to ask Steve straight out about the Avengers.

"Can't sleep?" he said quietly.

Dominique sighed. "You're a mind reader," she murmured.

"No, but I know of one." His tone was hard for a second. Then she felt the bed shift as he swung his legs off and sat up. "I'll sleep on the floor."

"No!" She blushed; she'd been louder than she'd intended. "I mean," Dominique continued, rolling over so that she was on her right side and facing him, "that's not bothering me."

Silence settled for an insufferably long moment, but Steve eventually returned to his old position on his back. With their eyes adjusted to the dark, he looked her way, and she could see his eyes. "Something is bothering you," the American remarked.

She bit her lip again. "…yes. But—I honestly don't know if I should ask you."

"Go for it. I've been fine with everything you've asked me so far. So have you, with what I've asked you." He smiled. "I don't remember the last time I had a…a… Well, I guess 'confidant' would be the best word here."

That made it all the harder to ask, because she felt the same way. There was something inherently trustworthy about Steve—of course, if her suspicion was right, then it'd make sense. He was the ultimate boy-next-door. "Steve, I… I was reading the paper earlier…"

"And?"

She closed her eyes. She couldn't look him in the eye while she continued. "It was about the Avengers"—ah, she could feel him tense—"and there were photos and I normally don't read that type of story but it hypothesized what some of them were doing now and—" She stopped. "Are you—"

"Dominique." His voice was water on the flames of her anxiety. "I…am. I'm Captain America." His voice was quiet, but it sounded so loud in their small, empty room.

Dominique wasn't sure what she'd been expecting. An avoidance of the topic? A change of topic? A complete shutdown? Him yelling at her? Even this honesty was still stunning, despite the evidence she had of his honesty with her so far. But…things made sense now. He wasn't just a soldier—he was a super-soldier. The super-soldier. She opened her mouth and closed it. Then she looked at him.

He was looking at her once more. "I've gotta say, it's the first time I've said it and really realized it."

"Oh?"

"Well, all those times the government sent me overseas to cheer on the troops…" He looked away.

Ah. Right. By "troops," he didn't mean the Americans in the Middle East. He meant those in Europe, during the time of World War II. …her hunch had been right. Steve was… Steve was old. No wonder he'd said he'd seen a lot and had fought so much. No wonder he compared this century with the last. No wonder technology befuddled him. …no wonder he had manners.

"I don't think I'm really supposed to talk about it, even if I want to…for once," Steve continued.

Dominique reached out, hesitated, and then touched his arm. "You can't talk about it?"

He faced her again, and his expression was that of surprise. After the revelation, she presumed he thought she would be disgusted and horrified. Her encouraging him—it must've been nice for him. "I…" And then he told her.

It wasn't a whole lot. He simply talked about how he'd spent last summer. Waking up not only to a new century but to a new world… Meeting his teammates and what it took to make them a team (she slipped her hand into his when he mentioned Phil Coulson's death, and he gave it a squeeze—Steve had felt the weight of being someone's idol)… Fighting Loki, making friends of his teammates, deciding on the solo life of a soldier…

"It's a lot to swallow," he confessed.

"Yet…you seem to handle it so well," Dominique commented.

"I just don't think I've had the time to process it yet." He frowned. "I think… The worst part wasn't knowing what science had done to me."

She squeezed his hand again, and hugged his arm to her. He didn't mind in the least bit.

"The worst part… I think it was learning about Thor and Loki. I mean, I like Thor. Nice guy, if a little brash. But Loki, I could do without. Learning magic is real and then seeing both sides of that coin…" He ran a hand over his face. "I'd be fine if I never saw magic again."

Dominique's heart skipped a beat and almost stopped. Now she wished she hadn't asked. Befriending Muggles and more was hard enough as it was, with having to keep the Wizarding world a secret.

But to have someone know about magic and reject it? Especially Steve.

She wanted to cry.

"Now it's no longer early," Steve mumbled, and he tilted his head on his pillow so that it was closer to Dominique's. "We're both tired, so… Goodnight, Dominique."

She could only whimper in response.

- ^-^3

She woke first the next morning. She blinked a few times and massaged her facial muscles; they felt sore. And no wonder: When she pulled her fingers away, she could feel that filmy coat of dried tears on her cheeks. She'd cried herself to sleep.

Dominique swiped at her face and went to stretch. But she stopped. Steve's cheek was on top of her head, and he wasn't yet awake.

She watched his sleeping face. Was she being selfish? Was it wrong to cry at the thought of never sharing the most personal part of herself with Steve, who had shared the most personal part of himself already with her?

No. That wasn't the question. The question was this: Why should she care about her attachment to this man whom she'd known for little more than a week?

Dominique closed her eyes, scolding herself. She knew it was ridiculous to get this close to Steve. To any man, really. For the next time she set foot in England when it wasn't Christmas…Lysander Scamander would be there once again. Her childhood friend. Her first crush. Her unspoken fiancé. Dominique had been unsure that it would happen, but Lysander had made her promise before she'd gone to teach at Beauxbatons and before he'd gone to teach Care for Magical Creatures at Hogwarts—if they next saw each other outside of Christmas, if their schedules lined up, if work was still the first love in their hearts, then they'd marry. It was more like a "Why not?" kind of situation than a romantic one; it was just another bit of her planned life to cross off her checklist. And some part of Dominique had begun scolding her years ago, saying that Lysander was waiting for her at home, that she'd left him behind at home.

What hurt more was the part of herself that was scolding her for being so honest with Steve, whom she'd only known for days, as compared to Lysander, whom she'd known for years.

"No wonder I never took a sabbatical before—it hurts to think of anything but work," the witch muttered under her breath.

Quiet though she was, Steve roused, and his eyes slowly opened. He noticed the proximity of their faces and quickly picked up his head, but he didn't remove his arm from where she'd trapped it between hers last night. He gave her his signature smile. "Good morning."

Her heart melted, and her worries ran to the back of her mind as she returned his smile. "Good morning."

"Do you have the time?"

She looked at the watch on his left wrist. "It reads eight thirty-nine." She released him and sat up. "We should probably eat and head out."

They blitzed through a breakfast of cold croissants and overdone eggs before securing a ride to Caen. A businessman was visiting there for work, and he assured them that they'd easily find a ride from there to the coast. He seemed surprised at how determined Steve was about visiting Omaha Beach, but he said nothing of it. He only mentioned that his father had arrived at Normandy, but at Gold instead of Omaha.

Steve tensed beside Dominique in the backseat, and reached for her hand without looking. He drew comfort from it.

It turned out the businessman was right. No sooner had the duo been dropped off in Caen than they found a ride to the beach. This time it was a fisherman who was leaving to set sail for job that he expected to last two weeks.

"Your friend," he said to Dominique in French. "He is muscly. Is he looking for work?"

It was official: Dominique was becoming selfish when it came to Steve, for she replied "no." The fisherman shrugged and Steve wondered what had been said, but she didn't translate for him. Knowing Steve, he was the type of kindhearted person who really might offer his help to a complete stranger. …no, there was no "might" about it. Didn't he do that every time he donned his red, white, and blue uniform?

At last they reached the beach. It looked like a fairly normal beach to Dominique. She would know; Shell Cottage was right on the beach, so she'd grown up knowing it.

But the effect on Steve was obvious. He halted when they first stepped onto the sand, and she walked four steps ahead of him before she turned around and saw him frozen where he was. It was mid-, almost late-spring, so the weather wasn't rooting him to the spot. Only history was. And so she waited until he caught up with the present.

"The beach looks the same to me," he told her. "There might not be any Panzers here and the barricades are gone…" His face was a palette of emotions: grief, anger, frustration, respect, guilt. His blue eyes smoldered and his brow was creased as if he'd been carved that way. His posture was that of a soldier's until he bent down and touched the sand. "It's still the same," he said, and Dominique almost missed that over the wind that suddenly picked up.

They neared the water, but they had to be careful. Decades had passed since World War II, but still shrapnel could be found on the beach and washing up in the water. It wasn't terribly dangerous, but they kept their shoes on.

Steve pointed in front of them. "We landed there. Dozens of us. Americans were also at Utah, west of here. The English were at Gold, east of here. The Germans," he added, gesturing behind them, "had the coast well-protected, anticipating an attack. But I don't think they were expecting us. We did a number on them, and the invasion of Normandy turned out to be a valuable win. Still…"

Dominique admired the hardness of his set jaw and his profile. For all he'd been frozen and had lost time, Steve actually was still a young fellow. Too young to have to know war. It gave her perspective regarding her parents and her aunts and uncles; they, too, were too young to have known war. Yet, things happened.

The sky was bright blue as Steve stood up straight that day and said nothing more. He simply saluted the waters of the English Channel as if his life depended on it. It was not the salute of a hero. It was the salute of a man who knew what real heroes looked like.

- ^-^3

After they left the coast, it was like travelling in reverse.

They were smarter about pacing themselves as they carved their path back towards Paris. Dominique didn't know if they'd end there or not, but it simply seemed the place to go. The place where they'd met, they'd part.

Steve must've sensed it, too, because the remainder of his guardedness disappeared. Each time they had to stay at an inn or bed-and-breakfast this time, they'd share a room like before. But they'd sleep little and talk mostly. Well, he did most of the talking now.

He told her about his life, before being awoken and fighting in Manhattan. He told her about the war. He told her about Peggy and the army. He told her about Bucky.

His eyes always crinkled when he talked about Bucky. "He would've liked you, I know," he'd say wryly.

"Oh?" Dominique would ask with her head on his shoulder and the stars peeking in at the companions from outside in the night sky.

And he'd never elaborate, but Dominique liked to think that there was an implied "Because I like you" following that.

Sometimes his honesty hurt. Sometimes she'd listen to his stories and wish that she could be a better person. Compared to Steve, who had tried to enlist countless times before the super-soldier program found him, Dominique felt as though she'd done nothing with her routine of a life. And it was worse when she thought that she'd never disclose her being a witch to him. It was tempting to tell him, more so with each passing day. But reason always reminded her that knowing someone for little more than two weeks was not long enough to entrust what was not just her secret but the secret of her family and of the entire Wizarding world…

Steve really was a mind reader, though. Any time her worries caught up with her, he'd tell her a story instead, or he'd ask her about wherever they were. Now more than ever, her France commentary kept him rapt.

Yet the closer they got to Paris, the harder it was to stay happy. Steve was a very cheerful person, but Dominique…was a realist. She hadn't even noticed it until she'd met Steve. The witch chocked it up to being magical and…at that age…where most people…began to settle down. One of her classmates even, fellow Hufflepuff Grace Wolpert, had married Deimos Midgen two years ago. And Dominique wasn't getting any younger. At least living in France, she didn't have to listen to her mother chide her every now and then about becoming Beauxbatons' next spinster headmistress.

And any time her thoughts would stray like this, she'd look to Steve and see nothing but a big, blue-eyed puppy.

Oh, who was she kidding? She was attracted to him and wanted this adventurous tour of France to last forever.

Steve appeared to agree. Two towns outside of Versailles, they ate at a restaurant and tried some wine when Steve asked, "So, how's a schoolteacher able to enjoy this time off?"

"Oh, I didn't say before? I took the rest of the year off—there's only about two months left, anyway."

He smiled, but it was halfhearted. "This has been fun."

Dominique felt panicky, but she managed slowly, "I've…still got loads of time to spend before I go back to work."

His smile widened, just slightly. "There's still lots of France to see."

That put her at ease. "Yes, there is." And she couldn't help but wonder…with his insistence of going back all the way with her…maybe he was attracted to her, too.

They ended up heading back to Paris by way of Versailles, which provided (oh, the irony, she noted) a romantic backdrop. Yet she was more than content to enjoy a long stroll with him. They even visited the palace there, hand in hand. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, Dominique imagined coming back here and meeting a handsome blond stranger once more. Of course, in her reverie, he wasn't a stranger.

(And, glancing at him, she saw a similar thought playing in his eyes.)

"Tomorrow we'll be back where we started," Steve said as the palace faded into the background as they left.

"Yes." Dominique pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. "It's a little hard to believe—"

"Rogers."

Dominique frowned at having been interrupted, but she and Steve both turned around to find the speaker. Dominique didn't like seeing an attractive redheaded woman dressed all in black staring steadily at Steve. Expensive-looking black shoes, black tights, black dress or skirt and trench coat—it was like Paris sending a posh escort to bring them back sooner rather than later.

Worse, the woman seemed to ignore Dominique's presence as she spoke to Steve. "It's time to come back in for training."

Dominique looked up at Steve—and her heart shrank. He didn't look happy but resigned and resolute. "Steve, does she mean…?"

Steve nodded, and Dominique thought she glimpsed annoyance flicker on the woman's face. "Dominique," he said, "this is…well, one of my teammates."

She knew which one, too: the only female, Black Widow. "…Steve," Black Widow said lowly, "how much have you said?"

"Nothing more than can be learned from the papers, apparently," he fibbed. He gave Dominique's hand a squeeze, but she knew not to reveal what he'd confided in her. She didn't have to be told that.

While Black Widow eyed her up and down, possibly assessing a threat, Dominique kept her eyes on Steve. Seeing Black Widow and knowing she was back to reclaim Steve for the Avengers, Dominique fretted, but not because she might not see him again. She had seen the effect of being a soldier on Steve. It was all he'd ever known—he'd even said as much! But she'd seen it clearly when they'd visited Omaha Beach.

So…she decided to give him another option. After only ever knowing one life to lead, she finally understood what it meant to take chances and do the amazing. She understood why her parents' generation had done what they'd done. She even understood why her older sister had left to work in America, and why her brother had joined the Chudley Cannons and turned that Quidditch team around. If she risked things at the right moments…she could change more than just her life. Dominique looked up at Steve and turned his face her way, shutting Black Widow out of their own little world. "Steve, you said there's still lots of France to see. So why not see it?" She paused for breath and to make sure her voice wouldn't crack. "See it with me. It'll…it'll be like magic, living the life of a non-soldier."

But those had been the wrong words. Steve rested his forehead against hers and he covered her hand on his cheek with his own hand. His smile was sadder than ever. "Ah, Dominique…"—she liked that he didn't do nicknames—"I…" He locked eyes with her. "I'm sorry, but I don't want magic." When her face fell a little, he cupped her cheek, too, catching some of her hair in his hand. He rubbed little circles on her cheekbone with the pad of his thumb. "I think you're swell, but…let's be honest, one last time. A schoolteacher and a soldier? I'm not from your world…and you're not from mine."

She didn't want to hear it, but she knew he was right. That didn't stop her eyes from getting wet, though. "Yeah…yeah, fair enough." She chuckled, wetly, as he began to straighten up—but she did not let him get off that easily. Dominique hooked her hand behind his neck and drew him back down for a kiss, a kiss that was not delicate or ladylike or elegant at all. But she'd never considered herself an elegant woman to begin with.

At last he was allowed to straighten up, and he was strawberry pink. Good Merlin, Steve Rogers was at his cutest when he was strawberry pink.

Dominique held on to his jacket collar for a minute more. "This is not a goodbye kiss, Mr. Rogers," she said, holding on to him to demonstrate her reluctance. "It's a come-back-because-we've-more-of-France-to-see kiss." She mustered a slightly playful smirk.

Though still pink, Steve smiled, but it wasn't his sad smile or his innocent smile. There was something akin to mischief in it now. "Understood, Miss Weasley." He almost said it teasingly, but then she let him go and he tipped his head to her as if it were 1940 once more, and then he left, heading for the car Black Widow pointed out several yards behind her.

Then there were two.

Black Widow eyed Dominique once again. "Dominique…Weasley, you said?"

"Yes," Dominique replied, curtly. "Why? Have we met?" she added, her curiosity winning out over her jealousy.

Black Widow shook her head. "No. I just know the name."

Now Dominique was really curious. "You do?" But Black Widow wasn't a witch…was she?

"Yeah. You're related to a Victoire and a Molly, right?"

The blonde gaped at the redhead. "How did you…?"

"It's S.H.I.E.L.D.'s job to know everything—or at least try. And I have a feeling you'll be seeing us again." And then Black Widow surprised her and offered her a kind smile, as if she knew how Dominique felt. She jabbed a thumb in Steve's direction. "…all of us, Dominique."

The witch felt her face grow warm, but she nodded. They had an understanding, and Dominique rather wished they had the time to exchange pleasantries and more. Instead, she watched Black Widow return to the car, and the car pulled away. Eight minutes later, Dominique heard the sound of a helicopter, and a black one rose into the sky far behind Versailles Palace and headed west. Dominique waved anyway.

When the helicopter faded from sight, Dominique frowned and looked around her. Her hand went to her purse, and—for once in her life—she knew only what to do next. She would find a secluded place, she would mount her broom, and she would fly across the Atlantic.

But first she'd warn her sister and cousin with an owl to let them know she was coming. And she had questions.

- ^-^3

OH, so much to say! You already have a hint of the other side if you've read "unwarranted variables" and "The Last Light Left," but it's so much fun building things up for future Confundusverse (Confounded Heroes universe) fics. -w- As for this fic, some noteworthy things: Gabrielle/Oliver and Victoire/Neville are M&MWPs (see my profile for details)… Grace Wolpert and Deimos Midgen are OCs of mine about whom I'd like to write more in the future… Poor Lysander is friendzoned (but I have a plan to make him happy ;3)… "Grandma Apple" is the grandkids' nickname for Fleur's mum, Apolline Delacour… Also, pardon any liberties taken regarding the setting; I've never been to France, but I did my research, so I hope it's believable. The same regarding the Normandy info; what Steve says is factual, but the descriptions aren't off too much, I hope… Also, I think it was right for these two to develop an attraction, and doing so by becoming travel buddies seemed to work out, especially considering the short amount of time in this fic. "unwarranted variables" and "The Last Light Left" compressed months instead of weeks, but I can see this happening because of Steve's rather innocent, trusting personality and Dominique's strong presence (there's a reason why Maxime would groom her to be the next headmistress!). The last thing I can think of is something I corrected in here that "unwarranted variables" misses: In that, Tony does a background check on Victoire and can't even find a credit card. Here I mention that Dom and her siblings have them because it's easier that way to get by in the Muggle world. The bottom line is that Vic, Dom, and Louis do have them in this universe, and so may some of the others… Molly prolly does…hmm… More an interesting point than something really important, but I just wanted it cleared up. As I thought, this was not as long as the 1st 2 Confundusverse fics, and I'm not sure about the length of the next ones either, but the 4th and 5th—"Fake Arrows Through The Heart" and "More than smoke & mirrors," respectively—will be released SIMULTANEOUSLY because they are DIRECT companions to each other. But that is all I'll say about that. Also, PLEASE DO NOT FOLLOW THIS; THIS ONESHOT IS COMPLETE. All Confundusverse fics are posted separately, so you'll just have to come back sometime and check to see when the next ones are up (or you can subscribe to me just for that—it's up to you; I'm just noting what some readers have done; I'm also fine with you reviewing and asking for a PM when the next ones are up. :3). Lastly, these fics are all post-Iron Man 2 and post-Marvel's The Avengers, ignoring the events of Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

So while you're awaiting "Fake Arrows Through The Heart" and "More than smoke & mirrors" (which are set directly after this), REVIEW! Tell me that you've read this! Don't just favorite! …guess which Avenger and which next-gen come next? ;3 (Though guess all you want, because I have the next 8—EIGHT—fics planned, pairings and storylines matched some time ago.)

Thank you very much for reading (especially if you've read the others), and I'd love to see your thoughts in a review! See you in "Fake Arrows" and "More than"!

-mew-tsubaki X}