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Chapter 7 : The Power of the Stone
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Michael Vartan as Cadmus
Sophia Myles as Seraphine
lovely chapter image by nymeria @ TDA
Ignotus forced aside his bothersome thoughts of his new betrothal and focused on getting ready for the Strathclyde wedding party. He shaved the new stubble that had formed on his cheeks and dressed in his best attire. When he went back downstairs, Dominique was already in the sitting room waiting for him. She rose from her chair upon his entrance, shaking slightly with anxiety.
Ignotus paused mid-step at the sight of her and blanched. He knew his mouth was agape, but he found that he couldn't budge. He was too stricken by her beauty. A lump formed in his throat as he found himself rooted to the spot. He had never been so taken by the sight of a woman before.
Dominique grasped the sides of her dress and dropped down into the curtsy she had recently mastered. "Is this okay?"
She stood before him in her humble curtsy. Her strawberry blonde hair was hanging about in loose waves, and part of her hair was pulled back and pinned. A gold band sat atop her head, pressed against her forehead, and loose tendrils fell about her ears. She wore the pink and gold dress Ignotus had purchased for her earlier in Godric's Hollow.
"’Okay?’" Ignotus choked, finally able to speak. He stepped forward and grasped her by the elbows, pulling her from her curtsy. "It is perfect."
"Thanks," she said quietly with a blush.
"Do not fear. You have been an unfamiliar face to the village thus far; this shall be your first introduction to Godric's Hollow. People will know your name after tonight, but you have nothing to fear. You are performing flawlessly."
"You sure?" she asked quietly, flustered, and she put her hands against his chest. He seemed surprised at the sudden contact, but he did nothing and only listened. She didn't seem to notice his surprise or his sudden intake of air. "Ignotus, I'm worried. I really haven't met anyone but you. What if someone questions who I am? And you simply accept anything I have done that may be deemed inappropriate by others because you know I don’t know any better. What if - "
"Oh, Dominique, slow down," he ushered quietly. He found his long, calloused fingers stroking her smooth shoulder. The scent of roses reached him as she pushed back her curled locks. "You should not worry so much. Have you always worried like this?"
Dominique gave a quiet and defeated laugh as she lowered her head. Ignotus reached for her chin, stroking the round curve of it, and he pulled her gaze up to meet his. "Even when I first saw you in that god-awful attire of yours and heard you speaking in that tongue of yours, I had no idea. People will know you are not from around here, but there is nothing wrong with that. Just curtsy when need be, try and talk like I do, call everyone either Lord or Lady, and you will be marvelous."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Domini - "
"And your dances! I don't know them! How will I - "
"Dominique!" Ignotus found himself suddenly interrupting her. He gave her a smile and shook his head. "You must breathe. You have nothing to fear. I will be there, and I will teach you. You simply have to follow my lead. What can I do to convince you that you have nothing to worry about?"
"Nothing, nothing," she muttered. "Just...Just please be there with me. Always. Don't leave me alone there."
She finally stepped away from him and rubbed her sweaty palms on her pale gold dress. Ignotus watched her pull at her hair and turn her back to him. With her eyes elsewhere, one of his hands fluttered to his chest where Dominique had touched him. It was so rare for a woman to cross the boundaries into physical contact when it wasn't necessary. If it wasn't his mother or there wasn't any dancing involved, then the contact anywhere other than hands was always so alien. Women were too worried about respect and maintaining their class to care or let these things happen, but Ignotus was beginning to understand that was what he despised. He didn't like how women of the 1200s were so reserved, so worried about how they would be interpreted, so worried about being proper.
Then there was Dominique.
And Ignotus knew it couldn't just be within Dominique's personality, but most women would be like this in the 2000s, but he loved it. He loved how carefree she seemed to be when it came to so many things, even when she was worried. He loved how she didn't fear to cross the boundaries into physical contact. He loved the spontaneity she held when she would suddenly be standing in front of him, then touching him, and then turning away from him. He loved how he couldn't predict her, and how simply different she was compared to everyone.
He suddenly realized his heart was racing, and he forced the rapid beating to come to a slow. He didn't know how long it had been since he had spoken. So he finally cleared his throat and said as he followed Dominique's rapid pacing. "I promise, Dominique."
And now he was following her. Chasing her. She was so captivating that he would follow her about his home, so fearsome that she would leave without him. It was yet another part of Dominique that made him so enthralled by her.
When she finally stopped by the window and peered out, he came to stand behind her. He looked to the smooth skin of her upper back that was exposed and the curve of her shoulders. If she could touch him without questioning it, then could he do the same? Uneasily he lifted his hand and gingerly let it splay out across the curve of her shoulder. Her skin was warm and soft, and his touch ignited a flame in the palm of his hand. It was so different to have such freedom in exchanging physical contact without having to ask permission or seem uneasy about every touch.
Dominique didn't even react, which Ignotus believed to be the bes. Sucking a deep breath, he let his hand trail down her arm until his hand dropped to his side once again.
Standing up straighter, he cleared his throat and went to pull on his cloak. He fetched Dominique's from the rack and urged her towards him. When she finally came to a stop in front of him, he draped the deep purple cloak over her shoulders and brushed back one of her curls. He was aware of the flush that reached Dominique's cheeks, but he tried to not let it affect him. "Do not fear. We will have a marvelous time."
She gave him a genuine smile, and then they were out the door. Dominique was careful to follow Ignotus' every move and order. While she was nervous for the party, she was beyond excited. She couldn't wait to discover more about the ways of his time. Something about it drew her in and captivated her.
Instead of taking two horses, Ignotus lifted Dominique onto his horse. Like she had been taught, she sat side saddle with her back straight and head held proud. Then Ignotus climbed on behind her and the horse began a steady trot towards the center of Godric's Hollow. It did not go unnoticed to Dominique how Ignotus had grown exceedingly more comfortable with how he held himself around her. Upon their meeting and until now, he had always been so formal. Then again, that was the way of his time and he was formal with everyone, but she could see that their differences were beginning to collaborate. She grew more formal while still maintaining her care-free enthusiasm, and he was beginning to adapt that same comfortableness she always carried with her.
She could feel it in how he moved around her and how he spoke. She felt it when he touched her back, something so unheard of in this time with ones of such high class and respect. She felt it once again as they rode to the pub with one of his hands positioned lightly on her hip, the other holding the reins. It was obvious to her that he was trying to play it off as holding her securely on the horse in fear that she would fall, but she knew the truth. The delicate rubbing of his thumb along her dress was proof enough that he just couldn't resist touching her.
They didn't speak as they rode. They found no reason to. They were perfectly content, and their silence was quite enjoyed. It didn't matter that they weren't talking; they both felt comfortable enough to just ride in silence.
They approached the pub where the window shutters were wide open, allowing a breeze to roll in. The light from the torch lamps gave the open pub a warm, golden glow, and a happy tune was emitted from the depths within. Dominique could feel her anxiety and juxtaposed excitement as they closed their distance. Ignotus climbed off and tied the reins to the wooden post outside the pub before helping Dominique off the back.
He whispered one more encouraging thing to her before offering her his arm. She took it with ease, sucking in deep breaths, and they turned to enter the pub.
People were everywhere, drinking, dancing, laughing, chatting. Everyone was having a grand time, and the carefree atmosphere quickly washed over Dominique. She let it engulf her whole, and she soon found herself beaming. Before Ignotus could even lead her further into the pub, a young man with copper locks to his shoulders strolled forward. He had a wide grin, and sweat was beading along his temple from all the dancing. A mug of ale was in his grasp, and he had disposed of his jacket, now wearing just his white tunic that was coming untucked.
"Why, Lord Peverell! It has been far too long, old friend," the young man beamed.
Ignotus grinned back at him, and he let go of Dominique's arm just long enough to embrace him. "Callum! It certainly has been too long."
"You must tell me who this mesmerizing beauty is," Callum said with much enthusiasm as the men let go of one another and turned to Dominique.
Her cheeks flushed, and while she could already tell Callum was a man of little care of respectful exchanges, she still dropped down into a quick curtsy.
Ignotus spoke for her, and for that she was grateful. "Callum, this is the Lady Dominique. Her parents are acquaintances of my mother, and she was passing through and is paying a visit. Lady, this is Lord Callum Conway."
"Oh, please, Ignotus. We brawled together as boys, and I am hardly one for such formal pleasantries. Just Callum, my Lady."
"I am so pleased to meet you, Callum," said Dominique, careful to not use any contractions in her words.
Callum pulled her from her curtsy by latching onto her hand and bringing it to his lips. There he placed a chaste kiss on the back of her hand, and Callum said in a husky undertone, "Delightfully enchanted."
Ignotus retrieved Dominique from Callum's grasp with his lips tightly pursed. While Callum Conway was one of his oldest and closest friends along with Edmund, he was quite the womanizer. In the past Ignotus hadn't cared who Callum courted or slept with in his free time; Callum had the right to do as he pleased, but something about his promiscuous friend made him worry to have Dominique in his presence. He didn't want her being enticed by his charms.
Ignotus' arm went protectively about Dominique's waist. Callum's eyebrows lifted in recognition at his actions, yet Dominique remained unaware of the exchange. Seeing his friend willingly pull a woman into his side was new. Callum new Ignotus to be humble and more cognizant of the emotions and physical actions he shared when it came to women, so to see him be so protective over her gave Callum an idea of how important she truly was to him.
"Yes, well," Callum said, clearing his throat. He didn't want to draw attention to the situation, nor was he about to question Ignotus there in that moment. He wiped his curious look from his face, took another large gulp of ale, and his expression was once again jubilant. "I must return to the party."
Ignotus and Dominique both nodded their goodbye and turned to one another. Ignotus turned to Dominique and explained how he was childhood friends with Callum, and as they scanned the pub, he would point out his friends or those of noble class and inform Dominique of their names and such. Occasionally an acquaintance of Ignotus would come and introduce themselves to Dominique, but they would quickly dismiss themselves and leave the two of them to enjoy the party.
They had a great time dancing, and Ignotus had a few cups of ale. While Dominique wished she could try the ale and asked Ignotus if it was appropriate for her to do so, he turned down the request. He explained to her that ale was not a drink a woman of high class should drink at a party, but wine was perfectly fine. Dominique wrinkled her nose at this; she was never fond of wine, but perhaps the wine in 1234 was different from that of home. She would try it later, but for now she stuck with sipping at her water gingerly when she and Ignotus weren't dancing.
She caught on to the dances quite fast. Most of them were line dances consisting of the men and women, or just the women. While they didn't know her, the other women treated her with respect, knowing she was of high class. She danced happily with them while the men watched, grinning as they gulped down their ale. Ignotus enjoyed watching Dominique dance. She moved gracefully and with joy. Her smile was bright, and her curls bounced as she moved. She was the center of attention inside that pub. Her happiness radiated from her, and it spread like wildfire until everyone was smiling and laughing. He enjoyed it even more when he got to dance with her. He was able to touch her without those around him looking at him in deep questioning or wondering if she was actually a whore pretending to be one of wealthy class. When they danced, he was able to hold her close and feel her against him without anyone giving a care.
When he was sweaty from all the dancing and Dominique continued to dance in the next women's only dance, Ignotus downed his ale and disappeared onto the porch of the pub, desperate for some fresh air. Ignotus sighed as the cool air washed over him. He breathed it in, relaxing after so much dancing and feasting in the stuffy ceremony hall. He believed himself to be alone, so he strolled about the porch, just letting the breeze greet him pleasantly. When he went to step off the porch, he nearly tripped over his brother.
"Cadmus," Ignotus gasped, turning to face his brother, sprawled out along one of the steps. How had he not seen him before? There he was, lying on the steps with the end of his un-lit pipe hanging off of his lips. "I did not know you were here."
"Still here," Cadmus answered, and Ignotus believed his answer had a whole different meaning to him. Cadmus wasn't just speaking of being on the porch.
"Are you drunk?" questioned Ignotus quietly.
"Call it what you will," he slurred, waving his free hand around as the other caressed his pipe. "I like to call it negligent. For once."
"What is wrong?" Ignotus huffed, sitting opposite of his brother on the steps.
"Oh, where should I begin?" snarled Cadmus, and his younger brother flinched at his outburst.
Ignotus wondered what had brought this on from his older brother. For the first month after Seraphine's death, Cadmus had turned into a drunkard until he realized how much Tyrion needed him without his mother around anymore. Cadmus had shaped up, and therefore Ignotus and Antioch had gotten off of his back about it, but now, Cadmus seemed to have gone backwards. If Ignotus didn't know better, it appeared as if Seraphine had just died yesterday to Cadmus. This wasn’t just about Antioch and their loss; it was about Seraphine.
"You miss Seraphine," breathed Ignotus for an easy start.
"I do not miss her. I pine and yearn for her," hissed Cadmus. "Do you know what it is like to love a woman? Not infatuation. Love."
Ignotus pondered the question, and for some reason he couldn't quite place, his mind immediately went to Dominique. He shook the feeling off, and consciously answered his brother's question. No, he didn't know what it was like to love a woman. But there was no need to answer Cadmus; he had turned it into a more hypothetical question.
"Of course you do not," muttered Cadmus his own answer. "You are just a boy."
"Cadmus," Ignotus whispered, a warning as he grit his teeth, "I am not a boy. You know that very well."
Cadmus didn't seem to hear him, and he continued to rant on. "A boy, Ignotus! You know nothing! So do not attempt to lecture me or console me when you cannot sympathize."
"I may not have loved, Cadmus," he began uneasily, "but I have lost. You and I have both lost Father and now Antioch. I can sympathize when it comes to the loss of a loved one."
"Oh, take your pity elsewhere," snapped Cadmus. "Go, and dance yourself to Lady Dominique's side! Enchant her with your boyish charm and innocence!"
Ignotus made a soft hum under his breath. For a moment he believed he had hit the root of it all. Knowing he was entering treacherous waters with Cadmus, he began his question gently. “Lady Dominique. That is where all of this is coming from?"
Cadmus didn't answer, and Ignotus was the one to snap that time. “Are you jealous that I am dancing with Lady Dominique?”
Once again Cadmus didn’t answer. He only pulled his lips into a grimace and faced elsewhere. Ignotus gasped in shock. "My God, you fancy Lady Dominique!"
"She is a beauty," Cadmus answered indirectly. "And you must be stupid to not know that you fancy her as well! Everyone can tell; you have been blinded by her beauty, as have I."
Ignotus grunted under his breath. Yes, he knew that much to know that he had begun to fancy Dominique throughout the evening, but what he didn't need was other people knowing it as well. Not with the news his mother had given him earlier today. Luckily that news still remained a secret, but for how long? Eirene had been bursting with excitement that afternoon; surely she would share the news with the public soon, and then it would be deemed inappropriate for Ignotus to be seen with her in such a fashion as tonight.
"What?" Cadmus sneered. "For once in your life you seem to be positively love-stricken and you cannot even manage a smile. Why is that?"
"Mother had news for me today," he began. "I am betrothed to Lady Brigid Pellenor."
"Ah. My baby brother. Betrothed," sighed Cadmus. He appeared reminiscent for the slightest second, and then his expression turned to that of detestation. He wrinkled his nose and grimaced. "Why you?"
"Pardon me...?" gasped Ignotus.
"Why you? Why you and not me? Me, with a son with no mother. Me, who is desperate to love a woman again. If it be not Seraphine, then give me a woman I can imagine is Seraphine. And here you are, just a boy and torn between two women."
Ignotus blanched. He blinked multiple times before he was finally able to recover from his brother's harsh words. They left a bitter sting in his heart, and Ignotus wondered if it was just the ale talking or if Cadmus was speaking from his heart. He hoped it was the ale.
"You are drunk. You know not what you speak," encouraged Ignotus.
"I know what I speak, and I declare you to be an ignorant, spoiled boy!"
"Cadmus!" shouted Ignotus. He rose from the ground quickly, pained by his brother's words once more. His fists balled against his side. He was used to his brothers - now simply brother - releasing their frustration on him; he had learned to accept it and not take it to heart, but this was too much for Ignotus. Instead of entering silence like he normally would, Ignotus rounded on his brother with ferocity. "I am not ignorant! I understand as much as you! You were once twenty, as I am, and Antioch never spoke so unkindly to you as you have done to me! You were once twenty, and you know that I am not ignorant! Nor am I spoiled. Even if you were the one betrothed to Lady Brigid, you would disgrace yourself by imagining her to be Seraphine! Lady Brigid deserves as much respect from her husband as any other woman. Seraphine is gone, Cadmus, and she is not coming back! You must let her go and move on if you are to ever love again or give Tyrion the mother he needs! And I will never let you court Lady Dominique, for she deserves more than your selfish imagination!"
With that Ignotus whipped around and stalked back into the pub, leaving Cadmus to wallow in his thoughts. He gulped down the rest of his ale and threw the mug at the ground nearby. He sat still for many moments, desperately wishing to be with Seraphine, the woman he loved so much. He found himself rising and leaving the party shortly afterwards. He wandered down the road, leaving his horse still tied to the post. He walked about aimlessly, stumbling here and there.
He finally fell to his knees under a tree by the river where he fished out the Resurrection Stone from his pocket. He turned the dark, cold stone over in his hands. He grew furious that he had yet to understand the Stone. He had seen his brother put on the Cloak of Invisibility; he had seen its power and truth with his own eyes. And Antioch had killed the one wizard he had ever lost a duel to. All of the other gifts from Death worked flawlessly, but the stone...
He couldn't figure out just what to do. What was he doing wrong? Why hadn't Seraphine returned to him? Had he been cheated?
He clutched the thing tightly to his chest, rocking back and forth as tears threatened his eyes. Alone and knowing no one would find him, he allowed himself to cry. He forced his eyes shut and squeezed the thing tightly in his palm, the tip of the stone digging into his flesh. As he squeezed and rocked, he muttered her name endlessly.
Nothing again. Why wasn't he hearing her voice?
He opened his eyes, and shock took over him.
There she was.
Seraphine. In all her beauty. She looked as she did shortly before she had grown ill, only she appeared translucent. Cadmus could see the bushes surrounding him through her stomach. Her long black hair was pleated with loose tendrils about her face, and she appeared somber. Her expression was that of remorse as she looked upon Cadmus with her lips pursed and eyes wide.
"You are here..." whispered Cadmus with a sharp intake of air.
"Yes," Seraphine's voice was almost metallic, a soft push of air from her throat.
"Where have you been? I have needed you. More than ever," begged Cadmus. He quickly stood and outstretched a hand. He prepared himself for the touch of Seraphine once more, but utter disappointment filled him as his hand swiped clearly through hers, as if moving air. He couldn't touch her; he couldn't feel her.
He tried again, moving his hand quickly back and forth where hers motionlessly rested.
Seraphine finally whispered. "I do not belong here, Cadmus. This you know."
"No. You do belong here! With me! With Tyrion!" cried Cadmus.
"I have come every time you hold that stone in your hand. I find something pulls me from the afterlife to here, and then I see you. You always close your eyes and wait. Never have you once looked, yet I have watched you every time, unspeaking. I did not want you to know of my presence; however, you opened your eyes before I could leave this time."
"Why did you not want me to know of your presence?!" Cadmus demanded an answer.
"I have told you. I do not belong here. I will never return to you as I once was. Those who are dead cannot be recalled from the grave, even from such a stone given to you by Death. There is a time for dying, Cadmus, and mine has long since passed. You must accept this."
"You belong here with me. I have given you my whole heart."
"I give it back to you, Cadmus. Your heart is kind and generous. Another woman deserves your love; give it to her and she will cherish it. You must let go of me. Know that I love you and Tyrion," she spoke as if she were parting from him.
"You cannot leave me here!" he cried.
But it was too late. Seraphine disappeared from him, leaving only a soft layer of mist where she once stood. Cadmus sank to the ground and let out his loudest scream.
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