A sudden relief fell on Dominique. A relief she didn’t felt it for a long. He forgive her and always. Those were the words she needed to hear. All this time, all this blame she blamed it on herself, it is gone. With those words, it is finally gone.
She smiled at him and continued walking. The happiness that covered her. This feeling that she felt it was amazing. She couldn’t describe it. It was a long time since she felt this happiness. She missed this feeling. Even though they aren’t lovers anymore, he always knew how to make her smile.
She couldn’t find a way to hide her face after she said it. He was laughing. It was a long time since she saw him like this. She kept pouting and mumbling to herself.
"I didn’t know it was Albus, he was a girl, and I was a boy. We woke up totally different. And yeah that that…."
She kept looking around, trying to find an escape.
Antoine simply smiled and nodded at her thanks, completely clueless at the reasons behind it but willing to go along any way. He then turned once more and kept walking.
Albus Potter, of all the people! Dominique sure was busy and Hogwarts was as insane a home as ever. The nostalgia sent warm chills through Antoine’s entire being and boosted his mood even more. Still chuckling softly, he looked at her again, trying to stifle his amusement, and asked in a strained voice, “How did it happen though?”
Dominique laughed a bit when he said that she was selfish. She glared a bit at him. She let a deep sigh out. She was relaxed, as if a huge burden from her shoulder suddenly vanished. Something that had to be done from a long time.
The bandage was now taken off from the injuries and everything was healed now. She hoped he would feel the same. There was only one last thing she wanted to hear,
"Can you forgive me?"
She looked up at him slowly then again down. She felt that she was at fault too. It wasn’t his fault too. She did a mistake too. She wasn’t there for him when he needed her. Instead she only added more burdens to him.
However, the atmosphere totally changed when he suddenly mentioned Albus again. And not anything, he mentioned the flirt. The box of macaroon finished already and she had nothing to stuff in her mouth.
"I was a boy okay. A boy, and some boys flirt."
She looked around, couldn’t hide her face from embarrassment.
Antoine stopped and turned to face Dominique straightly when she asked him. It was never her fault, if anyone’s at all. He could hardly understand the reason for her assumption, but it slowly began to dawn on him that she might think her inability to empathize with him back then, to make his problem hers as well, a mistake for which to apologize. He looked at her steadily and, after a minute’s time, uttered clearly and gently, “You are always forgiven, Dom.” The last thing he wanted was her feeling guilt over his own harshness.
Antoine then waited to hear the story of her turning into a boy, hoping some amusement would return to them both.He looked at her teasingly, watching her avoid all eye contact, but her reaction to his remembering that odd statement was so unexpected, so transparent, that he couldn’t help but burst into a short, but uncontrollable, spasm of laughter. Her phrasing of it! That choice of words was the old Dominique taking him by surprise and making him laugh even if he had forgotten how to. “I was a boy okay. A boy, and some boys flirt.”
Dominique paid a great concern to his words. It wasn’t only her in this relationship, it was him too. She wasn’t the only one who was hurt, but he was hurt too. It must have been hard on him more than her. He was the one who had to end it. Dominique didn’t want him to be hurt anymore, she wants him to forget too. Although, it is hard to forget. They were on the same boat together. Everyone went to their own way, but they carried the same box of thorns.
When he asked her if he disappointed her, Dominique took some time to reply. It is not because it was a hard answer, but it was an answer she didn’t even tried answering it herself. She never thought that he disappointed her. She can not answer him with the same mind of a broken girl, that yes you disappointed me. No.
"I never thought that it was hard on you too. However, I would be a liar if I said that you disappointed me. You never did and you will never do. Actually, you surprised me. You showed me a side, I never knew it from you."
Dominique was never disappointed from him. He always tried his best to make her happy, he tried his best in this relationship. The time she was walking happily every where, he was already in pain. Rather than being disappointed from him, she was disappointed from herself. She was selfish at that time, and wanted to be the only one who was hurt. Instead he was hurt more than her. She was the selfish one in this relationship.
"I was selfish…back then. You did everything, while I only stood there waiting."
Antoine beamed at Dominique —as far as beaming goes with him— when she accepted some of the blame herself; she has indeed matured farther than he deemed her capable of.
"You were understandably and rightly selfish, Dom. I expected nothing less when I decided to end it."
After that Antoine said nothing and only resumed walking, mulling over the turn their moments of truth had taken. So much has changed within and between the two of them that it might have been impossible to predict any of it. It was an ephemeral day in every second of it, as though some great god had heard and answered his unspoken prayers, and it certainly gave him much to think about. Therefore, a few minutes later he attempting to drive their ramble into a lighter tone once more.
"So what was it that you said about flirting with Albus?"
Dominique didn’t blame anymore. When she looks back at herself, she thought maybe she shouldn’t shout at him like that. She should’ve heard him first. Maybe the word, I’m leaving you blocked her ears that she couldn’t hear anything else. She thought about what happened every night. It was an experience that she will never forget, a beautiful experience with some thorns.
"You didn’t cause me pain Antoine. Maybe when I knew that you will leave me that what hurt the most, and I believe it hurt you too. Things do happen and I guess that sometimes what we plan for, don’t always happen as we want."
Dominique couldn’t believe what she was saying right now, it is like as if her heart healed completely. He didn’t cheat on her or anything. He was a perfect boyfriend anyone could wish for.
"May I ask the same question to you?"
Dominique wanted to know his opinion too, she wanted to know how he felt about what happened.
As Dominique detailed her feelings back then, Antoine couldn’t help but feel a rush of gratitude and increasing respect for her heart that had always been kind and for the maturity that he just now discovered within her. He smiled at her once more, not affectionately, but tenderly, as though trying to convey the peace that she had instilled in his soul. He had no words to express this mingled appreciation and thanks, and so he uttered none.
"M-me? I… It pained me, yes… But as I had prepared for it, that day was certainly less traumatic for me. And my life here… it makes me forget. As if feeling that, feeling any guilt or nostalgia, were a luxury I can never pursue. I wonder… Have I disappointed you with my incomprehensible answer?"
Antoine replied without looking at her. The question had been too personal for him —he never did divulge his feelings to any living human— and he knew his feelings to be less flattering than hers. Everything he said was an embarrassment in itself, and he smiled helplessly with his last sentence. Though he was without question relieved to finally discuss this openly with her, he never reminded himself that he too would talk. And Antoine did not welcome challenging surprises.
"I don’t what happened, but our genders were swapped. I was a boy , and I flirted with Albus and I didn’t even knew he was Albus."
She suddenly stuffed a whole macaroon into her mouth after saying that. She was so embarrassed from what she said. Sometimes her mouth speaks before her brain. She felt his silence for awhile, at the same time, she didn’t know what to say or she should question first. However, when she heard his question, she was surprised. She never thought that maybe he would open the subject again and it would be him. She didn’t thought that he would maybe care again. Moreover, she felt that it was her chance and everything should be cleared now. She was nervous at the beginning, she didn’t know what to say at first, but she let her feelings speak for her.
"Well, I cried and was hurt and you know this and that, but then time start to heal everything. It wasn’t your fault after all."
Every one of Antoine’s tense muscles relaxed and fluxed with Dominique’s last sentence, for the relief that she had given him exceeded every hope of his own desperation. It was no small wonder that he had waited for this encounter, this answer, for so long.
"It wasn’t my fault…" He softly repeated her words, more in whisper to himself.
Coming slowly out of his trance, Antoine raised his lowered head and muttered to her, “I’m glad to hear that, Dom. Though I do —of course— regret the.. pain… that I have cause you.”
"Maybe because it had been a long time since I left, you should’ve seen what happened to us in Hogwarts. A lot of crazy things happened, am not sure if you heard about it or no?"
Dominique wanted to tell him about everything that happened, from Gender Swap to everything. She started to remember what happened during the gender swap and how she accidentally flirted with Albus, which till now she couldn’t tell anyone about it.
Dominique at the same time had so many questions for him. She felt that there are things that should be wrapped. It is like they met for a reason, and maybe the reason is to wrap everything.
"I will stay here till the 15th of July, only for 10 days, then my trip shall start."
"No, I haven’t heard; I hardly keep up with any news lately. But ten days… It’s a short time, indeed."
Antoine was silent for a while, as was she. Neither had much else to say, nor had he himself tried to extend the little details. He didn’t have to notice the dead end that their rants had reached, for it was inevitable that they should eventually come to the one question they both yearned to ask. He knew he at least pined for its answer.
Stuttering nervously once more, he suddenly stopped and turned to her with a hope for just ten seconds of bravery. Enough time to ask. "D-Dom? How… how was it? I mean, how was it… after I left?"
No, he thought, how were you? Antoine was truly surprised at his own curiosity, that he never ceased to care, that such an old guilt could still claw at his insides. He could only wait for her reply now.
Dominique then took the box and saw him waiting for her outside. She walked slowly toward him. The wind wasn’t that strong, but it was that beautiful breeze that give you some refreshment.
"Paris changed a lot, did they changed a lot of things?"
She wanted to walk more and talk with him more. No one for sure can forget their love suddenly, but there was this friendly atmosphere between them that she felt that she needed that.
"Hm. Paris is always Paris to me…"
Antoine walked slowly by Dominique’s side, taking care to shorten his steps and match them to hers. He still smiled at the comfort that had overtaken him and, through their stroll, looked at her from time to time with perfect ease.
"So how long do you plan on staying here?"
Dominique couldn’t hide her face from embarrassment. It is not something you can say to anyone, but she felt relaxed telling anything to him.
"I don’t think I will get drunk in the near future, except if I want to try a new wine in South America. My food loves me, they will never get jealous. They are lovely and cute."
Dominique couldn’t hold her excitement back, when he wanted to go out for walk. It was such a great opportunity and maybe they can recall some nice memories.
"I can eat cake while walking, or maybe I can take them out. I know, the weather today is so wonderful, and I guess I know why now. Just wait for me to go and take some cake."
Dominique went to order more cake and some macaroon. She ordered another box, so she can give it to Antoine later.
Antoine, as thrifty with his words as ever, hardly uttered a word and restricted his replies to Dominique to nods and shrugs. He was not stiff, but half smiled at her little wine joke and her now trademarked epicurean habits. Then, once she got up to buy more food, he got up from his seat and walked out into the fresh air to wait for her. The recent warmth of their interaction at last reached that point of friendly intimacy that dismisses all formalities. And for that he sighed in relief.
Dominique realized how he ignored her question. She started thinking how he is still the same. He didn’t change, he still kept some secrets. Maybe not secrets, but things he doesn’t want to share it. He grew up before his age. She kept looking at him deeply. He is not the same as before. She started to think again about the broke up, maybe it wasn’t his fault. She then whispered to herself, it was the fate and life. She is not better than him in anything too. He started smoking and she started drinking. She couldn’t judging him for that. Even though, their fate didn’t cross together, but it seem as if they are walking in the same road.
"Well, you started smoking and I started to drink. You should see me drunk, I flirt."
She somehow paused then laughed a bit. She liked how they are talking smoothly with each other. They still know each other.
"Oh who doesn’t like food. It is women’s first enemy, but her best friend too. Plus, it is not my fault that they make new ,delicious food everyday. You feel as if you are in heaven."
"Then you should be jealous too, because I can ignore you and order again."
"Your warning is much appreciated; I’ll never let you get drunk again. Otherwise, your food will be mad with jealousy."
Antoine couldn’t help but notice the change in Dominique. He couldn’t really pinpoint it, but, despite her ever so consistent gluttony and carefree attitude, there was a new decisive maturity about her. Her undertaking this trip to South America all by herself is straight enough evidence of it. This did not disturb him in the least, however, for it gladdened him incredibly that she had so changed for the better.
Antoine hadn’t smiled this much recently, and this surprise only got better now. "You’ll still eat more cake? I’d thought by now we could take a walk outside. There’s a wonderful summer breeze today."
Dominique didn’t try to force him to eat it, but slowly tried pushing the plate to his side. Whenever he wants to eat it, he would find it there. Dominique wanted him to eat it or else she would take it without being shy and eat it. Food was always her soul mate.
"You will regret it later…" Dominique said jokingly.
She couldn’t stop herself from being surprised when she saw him taking out his cigarette. It looks like that a lot had changed, and she didn’t know about it. She couldn’t stop him. It was his choice now. Dominique kept thinking what she will do if they were still together, maybe she could try and stop him or hide it from him.
"So you started smoking?" Dominique couldn’t help herself, but ask about it.
She didn’t know why she was excited to her about his life and his stories. She wanted to know what he had done with his life and what happened.
"She wasn’t beautiful or not a good cooker? Yeah, it is true. Well, I guess food and I are on good terms right now. I couldn’t find anyone, nope no one."
As Antoine got out a cigarette and lit it with his muggle lighter —which he only used for secrecy’s sake—, he merely shrugged his shoulders in response to Dominique’s question. Indeed, what other reply is there? He smokes now and he had heard every criticism there is, nothing more or less to it. This defiance in character, however, would not extract much from him on his relationships. It was not that he preferred it remain a secret, but Antoine was not one to reveal much of himself or his history. And so it was that he now chose to ignore her invitation to divulge all.
"You’ve always been on commendable terms with food, Dom. I daresay any guy you date would be jealous of it."
He couldn’t help but smile at the easy commonness that their conversation had taken, the subtle teasing that they had both gotten so used to and had found impossible to forgo even after this long.