Graduation Beyond Naiveté

Graduation Beyond Naiveté

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Post by Dom Weasley on Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:57 am

Dom had never worked so hard.

After she came back from Ilvermorny, life had taken a little while to get normal again. She was anxious to see Declan return after his shock, and she couldn't but actively follow the recoveries of her cousins. Once everyone seemed to be relatively okay, her attention was turned back to culinary school, which she had completely dropped. She managed to explain her absences away, but the work still had to be made up and she had to catch up. She caught up just in time for the certification exams. After this, she would be a cook. Couldn't call herself a chef quite yet. She'd have to take this degree and enter a more advanced program but that all counted on her being able to pass this first round anyway.

It had been exhausting, really. Her nights were spent in her kitchen, and she wouldn't care to admit how much she had spent on food to practice... or how many dishes had been broken in frustration. But Dom was beginning to grow up, beginning to resemble an adult.

She was still relatively naive, however.

So when Aunt Hermione owled her to drop by, Dom assumed it was to return to sweater she had borrowed the night of the party. Of course. What else could it be?

Dom walked up the path, tugging the zipper up on her jacket. She had changed moments before leaving, deciding a tomato-sauce-covered frock wasn't exactly fashionable. The dress jacket combo had been convenient enough, but the slight winter chill was making her regret not choosing pants.

She hugged the grey sweater to her chest as she reached the door, knocking twice before opening the door. Hermione knew she was going to drop by and anyone who could get past the wards were typically welcome to come on in. "Hermione! Ron! It's your favorite niece!"

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Post by Hermione Granger on Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:15 am

Ever since her birthday party, Hermione had been wondering after Dom and her situation. Not half because Hermione wasn't entirely sure what that 'situation' actually was. Dom had brought a particularly charming - though undoubtedly older - male friend, and neither of them had offered any objection when she called him her boyfriend in front of Ron and Percy. So that had seemed quite settled, and Hermione hadn't brought it up again.

There was something a bit off, though, now that Hermione thought about it. Now that she understood a bit of Dom's life after speaking to a couple of people. Cooking school was a great plan, Hermione felt, because although it wasn't necessarily conventional, apparently it was very close to what Declan was doing. So perhaps that would help them. And it also meant that Dom was finding her own path, rather than choosing something that someone in the family had done. And Hermione understood that very well. She had gone through her fair share of careers, and enjoyed each of them as she had chosen them for herself, not for others or what others expected of her.

So when the door opened and Hermione heard the greeting offered, she closed her book and set a charm on the oven to alert her when the casserole was ready. Then she walked into the front entry, finding that Ron had already come from their bedroom to greet her.

"Dom! What're you doing here?" He questioned, happy though he was to see her.

"I invited her," Hermione explained, coming up beside him and offering a smile to each of them. "Go ahead and finish your report, Ron."

"Let me know when dinner's ready," he warned her seriously. He winked at Dom, though, before brushing his fingers across Hermione's shoulder and turning to leave. He paused, though, and spun back around. "You'll stay for dinner, Dom?"
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Post by Dom Weasley on Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:48 pm

Ron was the first out and, surprise surprise, he was out of the loop. She imagined he had probably exhausted himself early in his marriage trying to keep up with his wife and had finally accepted that he would always be a few steps behind. Besides, goofball of a man married to a powerhouse of a woman was the perfect recipe for the fun uncle, and Ron had perfected the role. So it was with an easy smile that she greeted her uncle. "Hi Uncle Ron!"

Before she had the chance to explain her presence, Hermione appeared and cleared the air. She offered Hermione a grin as Ron began to head off, but was caught off guard by his invitation. She already felt exhaustion in her bones and she knew she needed to work on her knifework before bed. Her cuts were finally becoming more uniform but she needed to get them to stay uniform the thinner she chopped. For once, a sense of responsibility outweighed her desire to socialize.

"Um, I'll try. I already ate-" a lie "-and I've got a lot of work to do. We'll see." She offered a smile.

She turned back to Hermione and held out the grey sweater. "Thanks for letting me borrow this. I'm never thinking ahead. I really need to start checking the weather in the mornings. I'm never prepared."
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Post by Hermione Granger on Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:34 am

Dom was rather wise, really. Not that she knew it. Or, at the least, she was wise for giving herself an excuse to leave, and the blonde would understand that shortly. As Ron shrugged good-naturedly and went back to his work, so Hermione reached out to wrap an arm around Dom's shoulders as she led her into the kitchen.

She looked down at the sweater, having entirely forgotten that she'd let Dom borrow it during her preoccupation with other things since the party. "Winter is coming on fast, you know. It might be best to start, you're right. Thank you for returning it, though."

As they stepped into the kitchen, she released the younger woman and pushed her book aside before sitting and facing her. Blunt though she could easily be, Hermione felt that it wouldn't be in her best interest to do so this time.

"How have things been since we saw you last? I hear you've been quite busy."
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Post by Dom Weasley on Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:44 am

There was no argument, no insistence that she was a starving twenty-something who needed some home cooking, and for that she was grateful. Besides, home cooking was not something she was in short demand of. Not anymore.

Hermione led her in and Dom smiled, warmed at the friendly contact of family. She knew so many people who were just... out in the world on their own. Those people who somehow found themselves doing the whole life-thing alone, and she simply couldn't imagine it. She had felt a shade of that while she had been searching for Lily, before Molly and her friends had crossed her path. Unable to reach out for help, running ragged - it had been horrible. As conflicted as she was at allowing her underage cousin to help her look for Lily, she could not help but admit that her morale had increased to have that support. People needed people. It was just that simple.

Dom took her spot, feeling closer to her aunt already when she realized... wait. The sweater was given and here they were, Hermione still looking purposeful. Was the sweater not the reason for her owl?

But the opportunity to vent about her hectic life was too juicy, overshadowing what should have been the beginning of suspicion. "Busy's right. I'm trying to pass culinary school. It's not that prestigious of a school, but it's a great stepping stone - if I get good marks. I got behind because of the whole Ilvermorny fiasco, and you probably know from my parents' griping that I'm not exactly a born pupil as it is." She heaved a breath. "But I'm managing. You know." She shrugged, before brightening a bit. "How about you? How Ron and Co.?"

Poor girl had lowered her defenses.
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Post by Hermione Granger on Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:12 am

Hermione nodded attentively at the mention of school, but that stopped when Dom put herself down to some extent. It wouldn't do to nod along with that. Of course, little did Dom know it, but she had given Hermione a perfect segue to her real point.

"Yes, things are going well. This year was... hard, with how long it's been." Hermione glanced down, bracing herself before deciding she had to be more specific. "Harry going away, that is. It was strange to celebrate and deal with Ilvermorny so near the anniversary. But.. we're safe, the rest of the family. So."

She shrugged to cover up the slight shudder that rolled down her spine. That topic was far too dark for her to feel like sticking to it. Time to get to the point.

"But, speaking of the party," she went on, smiling a little. "I was quite interested to meet Declan. Someone at the Ministry called the pair of you heroes the other day, which I imagine he might like to know, if you see him soon. That said, however.." She tilted her head, rolling her lips together as she looked for the words.

"When I met him the pair of you seemed quite close. But.. towards the end, as you were saying your goodbyes, I think, I spoke to him again." Hermione leveled Dom with a slightly disappointed expression. "I was sad to hear that you'd not corrected me, Dom. I'm afraid several family members now think the pair of you are together when you actually aren't, and that's a bit of a mess. If your mother finds out and thinks we've been making things up about you-.." She shook her head, frowning. "At least he told me so I could try and correct it a little."

At the least, Hermione imagined, Declan would appreciate the slightly minimized chance at being asked about it while at work if someone recognized him. But it was indeed embarrassing to know that she had been misled; usually she was more observant than that.
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Post by Dom Weasley on Tue Dec 06, 2016 9:39 pm

Dom's bottom lip lifted sympathetically at Hermione's words, feeling the weight of her aunt's difficulties with a newfound appreciation. Before Ilvermorny, Dom's involvement in political matters had been limited to supporting her family's decisions to get involved. Now that she knew what sort of sacrifices came with really trying to affect change, she could hardly grasp how much the older crowd must have had to sacrifice - Ron, Hermione, Luna, all of them. And the loss. She missed Aunt Ginny, sure, but she had not grown up alongside her. Where did the strength come from that got them through wars and loss?

Considering the context, Dom was blindsided by Hermione's actual intention in bringing here there.

At first, she could not help but think she was about to receive a commendation for having found someone like Declan. Her eyes brightened and smile warmed, ready to spout off the entire story at just a moment's notice-

But that's not what this was.

Soon her smile was frozen, and then it was slipping, eyes widening as she realized the misunderstanding, realized that Declan's staunch black-and-white view of things would of course cause him to go out of his ways to correct things. Never mind that, if it really were unintentional, it was her job to make that clarification, not hers. It was her hang up, and he had made it into his own.

What an idiot.

She reached up and clapped a hand to her forehead, closing her eyes and taking in a breath for a sigh. But no sooner had the sigh begun to release itself than she was laughing. She shook her head and dropped her hand, bright blue eyes flicking open as she looked at her aunt.

"He's an idiot. I was very intentional in not correcting you. I thought he'd pick up on the fact but... he's an idiot."

It then struck her that she was telling one of Declan's heroes that he was an idiot. Maybe not the best idea.

She shook her head again. "He's not an idiot. He's... well-intentioned, almost to a fault. When we first began seeing each other, I didn't want to feel trapped or obligated. I wanted to let things happen, and he's taken it as 'we are not together' rather than the reality, which is that I don't believe in the labels. Just because I don't believe in the labels, though, doesn't mean that I..."

The weight of her statement struck her. It was a big thing she was about to say. It'd probably be best to just quit while she was ahead.

But Dom wasn't a quitter. Not anymore.

"Just because I don't believe in labels, doesn't mean I don't believe in us."
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Post by Hermione Granger on Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:01 am

"There's a difference," Hermione began slowly, "between believing in labels and believing in the idea of a relationship. I remember, when I first met the boys, I wanted so badly for Ron to like me, to want me around. It didn't develop into real feelings for several years, of course, as we grew up and came to truly understand what that sort of thing meant. But I knew, at least eventually, that I wanted him to want me, because I so sincerely wanted him in return."

Hermione smiled to herself, shaking her head, but returned her attention to the present with a look of disappointment. "I don't think you're being entirely honest, Dom. With him or yourself. Declan said he made you a promise, in order to make you happy. He said that he swore to never ask you again. Now, I don't know what you want or expect from him, but you can't ask him to figure it out if you don't give him the right book of clues and information to sift through."

It was a particularly ridiculous analogy to make, for some, but making jokes about such things was almost irresistible for her. And she doubted that someone from her family would expect less. But just as Declan's assumptions and decisions were absurd to Hermione, she knew that her way of explaining things might sound ridiculous to Dom as well.

"I'm not trying to say that you are in any way at fault for being scared. I was scared, too, when it seemed like Ron was liable to choose someone else. I don't see that with you two. Not yet. But he doesn't understand, and I think you know that could end up hurting both of you, but him in particular."
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Post by Dom Weasley on Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:10 am

Dom felt much of her argument stopped by Hermione's distinction between labels and the relationship itself. Part of her continually felt like she simply wasn't be understood in this matter, and she knew that it had to be because she herself didn't fully understand, else she would have been able to explain herself better. She didn't mind the idea of considering herself in a relationship with Declan, she supposed. That wasn't what had kept her so hesitant. She just... she just...

She didn't know.

That was the beginning and end of the problem, she supposed. She didn't know what about commitment frightened her off. At first, she thought he felt too much for her. Now she felt so strongly for him, and yet she had been content for all this time to make no distinction, regardless of how many sweaters she left at his place, no matter how many times she slept in his bed.

She chewed through all of this as Hermione's words crept into her skull, affirming much of what was now becoming all to clear to her. It was all well and fine to have hesitations, but there had to be some tangible basis, and there had to be some solution, some endpoint in which those hesitations slid away. She had let people get away with calling them a couple, but that was very different from telling him that was what she wanted.

As Hermione closes, Dom found a point of contention that she couldn't help but bring up. She glanced up, chewing on her lip as though trying to keep it back, but her eyes were widening with urgency and she felt her lips slipping.

"It's not him I worry about," she admitted. "I know myself well enough to know how often I screw things up, how violently my heart changes course and I..." She shook her head. "How do you deal with the responsibility of someone else's heart?"
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Post by Hermione Granger on Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:25 am

Hermione wanted very badly to frown questioningly at Dom's wording. It was one thing to fall out of love and another to suddenly change one's mind. Perhaps Hermione had misjudged. Perhaps he loved her, but it didn't go both ways. Merlin, she needed to spend more time with the extended family, didn't she? Everything seemed to just keep changing on her.

"Well, let's look at this differently," she began, rather than asking what she really wanted to. If she was lucky, she'd get the same answer anyway. "Right now, when you talk about learning to cook, you light up. It's clear that you're passionate about it, and that's wonderful."

Hermione really did smile at that, and tried to hold onto that mood as long as she could once she began to change the topic back to her destination.

"One day, just as I have changed careers, you may decide to do the same. Maybe you won't have a passion for cooking anymore, or perhaps you'll hold onto it forever and in the end it'll be retirement that steals cooking away from you - at least professionally. Now, Declan?" She went on, quite serious again. "He has a great deal of passion for what he does, that much is evident. But he's also incredibly passionate about you. He wouldn't have spoken to me about it if he wasn't. He wouldn't be so afraid of upsetting you. Maybe he's scared he'll frighten you off. Correct me if I'm wrong, but he hardly seems like a fighter. I can't imagine him putting up a fuss about this, even if he's scared. So, reasonably, that would mean he's trying to give you whatever you want so there won't be any arguing."

Hermione shrugged, as though that equalled a verbal admittance of the fact that she'd only spoken to him twice. "Maybe he won't fight it if you suddenly change your mind, as you've suggested you might. But that obviously doesn't mean he doesn't care. You... You've got to consider it like this, Dom."

She held her hand out, seeking out Dom's so she could cover it and hope to keep the blonde's attention despite the uncomfortable topic. "One day you may wake up and realize that no matter what he does, you'll never learn to love him. And that's okay, even if it doesn't feel like it. Because it isn't your job to save him if you don't love him. What kind of man would he be if his entire happiness relied upon you? He was fine before you met him, surely? So why would anything change besides the fact that he'd now have a little pocket of sadness in his heart, at least for a while? Those things go away, and they can be mended. Right now, though? It's imperative that you do something. That you say something or give him something, Dom. Because actually, one day he may wake up and discover that someone else is there, willing to love him and to picture a family with him because she can't bear to go a day without him and whatever level of passion he can give her, instead of you. And you know what? He might just agree with them. Not because he doesn't care about you or he wants you to be upset in any way. I don't think he's cruel like that. Doesn't seem it.

"But there will come a day when you'll see someone flirting with him and even though you notice, he won't. Or worse, he will. And it'll hit you much too late, and in that one moment you'll realize that you've given him no reason to stay. Because hints and comments may seem like nothing at first, but that's always the case. If you aren't blatantly his.. if he has no reason to think you ever will be..." Hermione released Dom's hand with a sympathetic frown. "He'll lose his passion for you just as quickly.

"It comes down to whether or not you can imagine a life without him, or his life without you. If he wants a family, if he wants something stable, he won't wait forever. Why would he believe he could have the woman he wants if you keep reinforcing the idea that you change your mind with the wind? That just proves to him that he's inadequate, as he seems to believe. He wouldn't settle for this if he didn't think otherwise, would he? I may not be brilliant with men, but I know that look. I wore it for far too long. But unlike me, he seems content with it for now, because you haven't given him a reason to change. Imagine how strange it must feel to watch you grow and achieve, knowing that he's stuck at work, waiting to see if anything will get better. The longer you wait, love, the more it'll hurt him in the end. I know you know that. You can't keep doing this if you're aware that you don't love him."
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