Author's Note: I debated a lot about what happens in this chapter. I wonder if I moved things along too fast or if it just seems out of place, but after much debate, I've decided to go with my gut.
You will know what I'm talking about as you read. :) Please, feel free to leave any constructive criticism you may have about the speed, pace, or any plot events in this chapter. :)
Edited and revised: 1/15/13
gorgeous chapter image by Clara Oswald @ TDA
After hours of dancing and feasting, Ignotus finally had to pull Dominique from the dance floor. She was still beaming and full of energy, but she willingly said her parting goodbyes to her new friends and let Ignotus drape her cloak over her shoulders. Together they entered the cool night and he lifted Dominique onto his horse, climbing up beside her. They set off at a pleasant trot, Dominique's laugh gracefully meeting the dark night.
"Do we have to go back just yet?"
"It is late, my Lady," answered Ignotus, but he was already grinning. He knew he would give in quickly.
"But I'm not ready for tonight to end just yet! It was so much fun. Can't we go out to the meadow?" she asked with desperation. She clasped her hands together, pleading with him, her smile bright and wide.
He chuckled and nodded. "Very well."
He wrapped an arm tightly about her waist, and he kicked his heels into his horse's side. They took on a fast pace as they raced through Godric's Hollow, the both of them laughing as they did so, and they finally reached the meadow where they had so often come to relax these days. Knowing no one was around to see her, Dominique hopped off gracefully before Ignotus could even attempt to help her, and she spun around. Her skirts delicately circled about her, the moonlight caressing her pale skin.
Ignotus grinned and hopped down, letting the creature graze to its liking. He stepped up behind Dominique, joking to her. "And you were so worried it would not go well. You were the life of the party, my Lady."
"I love it here," she said in an airy voice. She realized she wasn't just speaking of the meadow. She was talking about everything. Godric's Hollow, 1234, the atmosphere within the town, the people, the way they spoke, the way everyone was treated with such respect, the clothes. All of it. She did love it. She hadn't realized just how much until tonight.
There was something strange within her that made her feel as if she belonged here. Why hadn't she been here all along? She didn't miss the option to use the air conditioning unit when she got hot at home; it didn't bother her when the rooms became stuffy due to lack of circulation. She didn't miss being overlooked by everyone;
here, she was special. Here she was enjoyed, here she was the life and energy of those around her.
Ignotus caught on to what she was talking about. He sank to the ground and watched her move about the meadow with deep interest. "You must miss your home,” he suggested.
He just didn’t understand how she could be so relaxed about being away from home, about being in a place so unfamiliar to her, about being away from her family.
Here he was, having already lost one brother he wished to keep forever by his side, and she didn’t appear to be missing her one brother and sister in the least.
"You don't understand, Ignotus," she said to him without stopping her dancing. She moved to one of the line dances she had done with the women, the steps now known to her by heart. "Compared to here, everything is so different at home. No one...cares. Women are equals, which - don't get me wrong - is wonderful. But that's when people get overlooked. I'm just...I'm so ordinary at home. Actually, I'm less than ordinary. I'm forgotten. I have two siblings, nine cousins, and ten aunts and uncles. My family is huge, and they are all so close. Everyone except for me. I'll watch everyone at our family dinners, everyone laughing and joking, and I try to join in...but it just doesn't feel right. I feel left out, and no one seems to mind."
"Dominique," Ignotus breathed in pity. He knew Dominique had struggled at home. Why else would she be so comfortable here? But he hadn't known it to be this bad. This had begun to explain some things to him. "They must mind, and they all love you very much, I’m sure. How could they not?"
"Thanks, Ignotus," she said, rolling her shoulders, "and yes. I know they love me, just like I love them. But here...Here is exciting, and I feel selfish when I say that I feel special here."
You are special
, he thought. Ignotus felt his cheeks actually flush crimson at that, and he was thankful for the dark night to hide his blush. When it faded, he finally lifted his head to look at Dominique. She had stopped spinning, and when their eyes met, she sank to the ground before him, folding her legs beneath her skirts. Ignotus followed her by sinking to his knees.
"Will you return home?" asked Ignotus. He feared the answer. He didn't want her to leave, but he was curious as well. He awaited the answer patiently.
She bit her lip as she debated her future. "I don't know. I know going home is the right thing to do. I have told you that we have time turners where I am from. There are strict rules when they are used. You can't be seen, and when they are used, you return to the same moment you left. The thing that confuses me, though, is that I didn't use a time turner to get here. I just...showed up here. So I don't know if time is still moving forward where I'm from...or if it's just sitting still. I wonder if my family is missing me; I wonder if I've been sacked from my job for not showing up for my mission, and worse, I wonder if they have even noticed...Or if I'm just here, and no one will ever know the difference because time is standing still. Because I didn't use a time turner to get here, I simply don't know how to go back."
"I see," he muttered. He didn't understand some of the things she spoke of, such as 'getting sacked' and things like that, but he didn't question it. He knew now wasn't the time. "Do you want
to go back?"
She took a moment to think his question through. Then a look of sheer guilt spread across her face, and she lifted her gaze to him. "No, I don't. Not yet, at least."
His heart was racing, and he wanted her to stay, but he did wonder about her family. What if time in 2022 was moving forward while she was in 1234? Her family was certainly missing her then, worried for her safety and well-being. Could she really give that all up? He wanted her to stay, but was it right? He tried to work this from her with his next question.
"But your family...?"
"Will make do without me," she answered under her breath. "They always have."
"I am so sorry you feel this way, my Lady," he answered, feeling her pain.
"I used to regret it," she commented under her breath. "I used to wish for something different. To be like the rest of my family. To be normal, to feel like I fit in. Then I came here, and then...Then that all changed. Do you think things happen for a reason?"
"Yes," answered Ignotus. "Most of the time. There are the things that I find hard to convince myself have happened for a reason, such as Antioch's death. But I try to tell myself these things happen for a reason we cannot understand but let go because we have faith in the destiny that has been laid out before us. Life will lead us down the right path. Do you think you were sent here for a reason?"
"I don't know..." she whispered her answer. "Maybe."
"What reason do you believe?" he asked. He wanted to hear more from her, he realized. He wanted to hear her say that yes, she believed she was here for a reason and that he
was that reason. As he came to this realization, he wondered how he had grown so fond of Dominique already. How had this come about without him realizing it?
He inched closer to her, desperately awaiting her answer.
"I have a few ideas..." she muttered, embarrassed as she hung her head low.
Ignotus reached out and grasped her chin between two fingers. Slowly he lifted her gaze to his. Her beautiful blue eyes were alive with the moonlight, and he urged her further to share with him.
"Sometimes I think I was sent here to find my home. I finally feel like I've found my home. I think I was sent here to find you..."
He swallowed and froze. His wish had been spoken, and now he didn't know what to say in return. He took a deep gulp of air and parted his lips, suddenly feeling parched. "I think I was meant to find you that day..."
Dominique noticed he had yet to let go of her chin. His thumb was stroking the skin there, and she aware that he was slowly working his way up closer and closer to her lips. She knew she tested his boundaries. What they did together when no one else was around was already so different from what he was used to. She could feel it in his actions, his anxiety and yet full excitement to reach out and touch her. He wanted to, despite what was considered appropriate.
He shifted, his eyes moving down from hers. She watched his grey eyes move downward, analyzing her nose, her cheeks, and down to her lips where he couldn't seem to look away. She then knew what he wanted. The desire was alive within her as well. She wondered if he would do it. She had already worked him out of his ordinary actions, but would he go so far as to actually do it? Or would he need more convincing? Did she do it first? Would he be angry or refuse?
Unable to tolerate the wait any longer, she whispered to him, breathing against his thumb. "Are you going to kiss me?"
It took him many moments to finally answer.
"I want to, my Lady," he whispered. And he did. More than anything. But Ignotus knew nothing about what was acceptable in Dominique's time. He only knew his own time. He shouldn't kiss a woman that he wasn't betrothed to; even further, he was
betrothed. Did women from 2022 kiss men simply because they had the desire to do it in the heat of the moment? Or was that frowned upon as well? It was too difficult to tell. He anxiously awaited any further notion from her.
"Kiss me, my Lord," she finally whispered.
Ignotus did so gladly. He kept his hold on her chin, and he gently drew her towards him. He pressed his lips against hers, breathing into her mouth. He jumped when he felt Dominique's hands at the back of his neck and sneak into his hair, pulling at it with her long fingers. She pressed herself against him, and her lips were suddenly moving against his in a way he had never experienced before. Then he felt her tongue.
He abruptly pulled back and looked at her in surprise. The feel of her lips had been exhilarating, a thousand times better than when he had kissed the few women he shouldn't have in his past, but now was different. He had loved it, but Dominique moved in a way he had never heard of before.
"What's wrong?" she asked, surprised by his sudden retraction.
"You...What did you do?" was all he was able to manage.
"I kissed you..." she answered with curiosity. Finally she gasped and sat up straight, retracting her arms from around his neck. "I'm sorry. Is that not how you do it here...?"
"I..." he faltered again. "It was very different, to say the least."
"I'm so sorry, Ignotus," she found herself apologizing. Suddenly she feared if he had enjoyed himself or not. "Did you not like it?"
“Oh, Dominique, I loved it. I have just... never been kissed like that."
"How have you been kissed then?"
"Much more...plainly," he answered, unable to phrase it any other way. "There is no using of the hands like that or...moving of the mouth like that."
"I'm sorry," she said quickly, hiding her blush.
"Please do not apologize," he said. He reached out and entwined their fingers. "I loved it."
She grinned at that, and she looked to their hands, his thumb moving sweetly against the back of her hand. He wished he hadn't ruined the moment; he wished he had just let Dominique move the way she wished with him without showing his surprise. He was curious to know more of how different their kissing was, and he wished she would kiss him again. He hoped he hadn't killed the moment, for he wanted to feel her and taste her like that again.
"Will you kiss me like that again?” he asked, urging her on. It was becoming clear to him that perhaps, yes, women did kiss men however they wanted when they wanted to rather than only kissing your betrothed or your spouse.
"You will let me? It will be very different. Please don't think me as unlady-like," she muttered.
"I would never think that of you," he answered. He knew he wouldn't. He could never think Dominique as unlady-like. She was a woman and a beautiful and classy one at that; all he had to do was understand that they came from different times, which he completely did.
She smiled to him and let go of his hand. This time she moved closer to him with full confidence. She pulled up her skirts just slightly to position herself better. She pulled herself into Ignotus' lap, straddling his hips. He remained still as he let Dominique move her body as she pleased. Her arms went around his neck, and this time she pulled him to her. She kissed him gently. After he grew accustomed to her actions, she began to move against him. Her hand stroked the back of his neck, and her lips moved against his. She would take it step-by-step. She could feel his rigid form growing looser and looser by the second. His hands moved to her hips, grasping her dress, and his lips slowly began to move against hers as well. When his breathing grew heavy and she knew he wanted more, that was when she opened her mouth and let her tongue dance across his closed mouth.
She could feel his surprise once again as her tongue stroked his lips. He seemed to recoil in shock temporarily, but he did not break the kiss. Despite his shock, she could feel his excitement in the rapid beating of his heart. She knew he felt confused, unpracticed, and unknowing of what to do. She knew this was new to him, for he had kissed women differently, more reserved and respectfully. So she broke their kiss just long enough to encourage him. "Just do what your heart tells you."
He nodded against her, and when he felt Dominique's tongue against his closed mouth once more, he listened to desires. He wanted to taste her, to feel her tongue with his own, so he opened up his mouth, and Dominique let out a pleased and satisfied groan as he did so. Their tongues collided, an entirely new feeling to Ignotus, but instinct took over. His tongue roamed the inside of her mouth, desperate to learn it by heart. His hands moved up her hips, sliding along her torso until he slid them into her hair, running through her long locks. He let out a whimsical sigh as she fidgeted in his lap, and they continued to kiss for minutes.
Only when they were both breathless did they finally pull away. Ignotus did not let go of her, though. With his hold on her hair, he brought her forehead to his lips and placed a gentle kiss there before their foreheads rested against one another's. He could smell himself on her breath, and he loved that.
When he faltered, unable to find the words, Dominique nodded in return. He was right; it was exactly what he said it was. There were no words for it. She had kissed boys and had her fair share of experience, but she had never enjoyed something as much as that. Nothing had felt so right and so good until she had kissed Ignotus.
She fidgeted on top of his lap, retracting one of her legs from his hips. When Ignotus worried she would pull away from him, his hands desperately went to her hips, squeezing delicately to keep her there.
She smiled at that, and she traced her fingers over his wet and parted mouth. She whispered before kissing him chastely. "I'm not going anywhere."
With her reassurance, his grip loosened and he let her do as she pleased. She grabbed his hands and maneuvered their bodies so they were lying side by side on the grass, facing one another. Ignotus smiled, outstretching his arm for her to use as a pillow. She lay close to him, the heat of his body radiating about hers and keeping her warm. She placed her head on his forearm, and she reached out to touch his cheek, kissing him once more.
"Now I know I came here to find you," whispered Dominique.
"I am glad I found you that day, and no one else." He reached out to stroke her hair, and in that moment he felt more at home with Dominique than he had ever felt in his entire life with anyone.
"I am too. At first, I was always trying to find a way to go back. I wanted to; I felt like I was intruding. Especially while you and your family were mourning Antioch. I felt like I was a bother. I've loved it here from the beginning, but when I met your brother, I knew I had to leave. I didn't want to be here for what was to come, but now I don't want to leave you. Now I want to stay here and be here for you," said Dominique. She reached out to play with the tie on his tunic. She was unaware of how much she had disclosed. Her words left her mouth unguarded, and she didn't even think about how she could have just given away more of Death's plan. When she felt Ignotus grow still under her touch, she knew she had said too much.
"When you met my brother, you knew you had to leave? Why?" he questioned in a soft voice, his thick brow pulling together in confusion.
"Oh," she squeaked. "No reason."
"Dominique," Ignotus then quickly pressed. His voice grew stern. "Do not lie to me."
She said nothing and only looked hopelessly into his eyes. What was she to say? Was she to share what she knew? Would she change the future? Had she already?
"It has to do with our encounter with Death, does it not?" inquired Ignotus.
"Yes," she finally whispered, her voice jumping an octave.
"Please tell me what you know," he encouraged.
She pursed her lips. She felt like she was in a rather vulnerable state. She had already voiced to Ignotus that she believed she may have been sent to the year 1234 for a reason. If there truly was a reason, was that reason to share what she knew with Ignotus? Would it change it? Or was the silver lining the fact that the future would be the way it was because
she told Ignotus? What was she to do?
But with Ignotus' desperate face, she found herself giving in.
"Please don't be angry with me, okay?" she asked quietly. "There are rules to time travel. That is why I haven't said anything. When I knew both of your brothers were alive, I knew I had to leave because...I didn't want to be here when they died."
"What?" breathed Ignotus in an airy whisper. "You knew Antioch would die? And you know when Cadmus will die?"
"Not the exact day or time. But yes, I knew. I have told you that your encounter with Death becomes known to everyone. It fades into legend and becomes nothing more than a mythical story. Ignotus, the story tells you to be a humble and clever man. That's why you had no desire to ask for anything other than what you did from Death. You knew something was wrong when Death offered you those gifts. You can't deny that you didn't."
Ignotus stumbled over his words, blanching in surprise. "H-How did you...How did you know?"
"It's written in the legend, Ignotus," Dominique sighed, shaking her head. "Your brothers were too consumed in their own thoughts to notice the peculiarity for Death to offer gifts for being cheated. You...You were smart. You knew in the way you worded your request to not be followed by Death. Death wasn't about to let the three of you get away with what you did after being so accustomed to taking lives at that water crossing. He planned to give you anything you wanted and take your life later. The Elder Wand...He gave it to Antioch, but Death knew Antioch's ways. How he desired power. He knew in the end your brother would die because of that wand. Antioch was murdered for the possession of the Elder Wand and nothing more. And then Cadmus...No one can be recalled from the grave. Not even Death can do such a thing. So he provided Cadmus with something that would only give him the illusion that his fiancée is alive. Death knew it would drive him mad. Death knows that...Cadmus is not too far along from Death's grasp."
"Cadmus will die?"
Dominique pursed her lips. What was she to say? How could she tell a man that his brother's death was imminent? How would he take it? She hated to be the bearer of bad news.
"Yes," she sighed. "Sooner than you think."
"Oh no," he breathed as he was struck with an epiphany. "H-How...?"
"Ignotus, I - "
Sensing her retraction once more, he urged her further. "No, my Lady. Please tell me."
"He kills himself, Ignotus," she said before she could back out once again.
Ignotus grew stiff as he lay on the ground beside her, his eyes wide as they suddenly filled with tears. "H-He takes his own life...?"
"Yes, Ignotus," she sighed. She reached out and stroked his cheek, loving the rough stubble as it rubbed against her fingers as she did so. She drew his head towards her chest and held it there as she consoled him, aware of him trying to hold back his tears. "I'm so sorry. The woman he loved. Seraphine, right? Cadmus loved her too much. He can't stand to be apart from her."
"He wants to join her," Ignotus cried.
He could only recall two times in his life when he had cried like this. When his father died and then only weeks ago when Antioch had died. He had let his guard down then in front of all of Hertfordshire, and after that day, he had promised himself it wouldn't happen again. And it hadn't. He had cried before everyone that one time, and since then, he had saved his tears for solitude. He had spent countless nights crying himself to sleep just so no one could see how truly vulnerable he was.
Why did men have to be so strong all the time? Why was it they had to always appear fearless in front of others? If Ignotus wasn't fearless all the time, then certainly not all men were either. How could so many people lie so blatantly? All the time? He wondered if men had to behave like this in Dominique's time. Did they have to put on a brave mask and pretend like everything was okay?
Even if men had to be just as brave and courageous, this was something he loved about being with Dominique. It didn't matter what was the custom of now or of Dominique's time. It didn't matter who was supposed to be brave or who was supposed to be ladylike. They did what felt natural, and they accepted each other for who they were, regardless of what customs they didn't wish to follow.
"Tonight makes sense now," he whispered as the dots all connected. "He was drunk at the party, going on about love and how much he missed her."
Dominique said nothing. What was she to say to that? Instead she only continued to hold him against her chest, running her fingers through his hair. Before tonight she had felt so guarded around Ignotus. She had been prudent of what she said, how she acted, how she touched him, but now she didn't pay it any mind. She realized it didn't matter how they acted around each other; what mattered was how everything seemed to fall into place when they were together.
"But how can he?!" he suddenly cried against her chest. "He has Tyrion here! And me! And Mother! H-How can he, Dominique? How can he? I...I have to stop him."
"No, Ignotus!" yelped Dominique quickly, jerking him away from her so she could look him in the eye. "You can't. I know it must be difficult...To hear this and let your brother die, but...you can't change history. And no matter what you say, Cadmus will do what he wants. No one can bring her back from the dead; it's what he wants."
"But he's my brother!" he fought weakly.
"I know he is," she cooed to him.
Seeing he had calmed down, she pulled him back to her, holding him there and soothing him with her talented fingers in his hair. She continued to stroke his long locks until he was breathing easy once more.
Ignotus may have firmly believed that he could stop his brother's suicide, but something within him said differently. No matter how hard he tried to convince himself - or despite the fact that he had only spoken to his brother hours ago - something told him he was already too late.