Chapter 14 : Hearts Torn
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Hopefully here is a chapter that will answer some questions and settle a few things. :)
absolutely stunning chapter image by (sol) @ TDA
When Jocosa reached Dominique’s chambers, she knocked rapidly. She knew Dominique was awake, for the faint glow of candle light was visible against the threshold of the door. "Lady Dominique!" she whispered fiercely. "Dominique, open up!"
"Jocosa?" asked Dominique, stunned.
"Yes!" she whispered again hastily.
In the next moment Dominique opened the door, and Jocosa pushed herself inside. Jocosa quickly shut the door behind her and turned to Dominique, beaming.
Dominique couldn't help but giggle at the sight of her friend. "Geez, Jocosa. What's got you so excited?"
"His Lordship has returned," began Jocosa but quickly delved into the true reason of her excitement. "And Lord Conway asked to speak with him. I listened, and I know I should not have. Please do not tell Master Ignotus, but I could not help myself. But what I heard! It was worth it, Dominique! Lord Conway...He's asked to marry you!"
Dominique's eyes went wide with surprise, and she had to refrain from shouting her response. "What?!"
"Yes!" beamed Jocosa, happy for her friend. "He is with Lord Ignotus this very minute, asking for permission!"
Dominique felt sick. She wanted to sit. She had to think this through, but she didn't want to worry Jocosa. Not now. Especially when Jocosa had put herself at such risk to listen in.
Jocosa noticed her stunned silence and quickly inquired. "But Dominique, are you not happy for such a proposal? Callum is..." she faltered as she found herself at words to describe his handsome physique.
"Oh, I am!" said Dominique quickly. Even though she wasn't. "I'm just surprised!"
"I am sure you are, my Lady," giggled Jocosa. She looked to the door, suddenly apprehensive once more. "Well, I must go, Dominique. Before Lord Ignotus sees me and questions what I am doing outside my chambers."
"Yes," she replied. "Don't get in trouble for my sake. Goodnight, Jocosa."
When Jocosa left, Dominique fell onto her bed in stunned silence. She couldn't begin to fathom the many emotions running through her in that very moment.
She was sad. Sad for Ignotus to seemingly be slipping away from her more and more with each passing day. She was angry. Angry with norms of the time, for such a vital question to be asked of Ignotus and not asked to her directly. Did she have any say in who she married? What would Ignotus say?
She couldn't find the will to make herself move, but before long, she heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. A knock came moments later and she granted entrance. Ignotus opened the door, his cape still tied about his neck and still wearing his thick gear. He looked pale, sick, and uneasy. Dominique believed she couldn't have looked much different, though. But she knew she couldn't give away Jocosa's position. She had to find out for herself.
She tied her robe tighter about her nightgown. While she wouldn't have cared otherwise, she knew it was indecent for a man to see her in her nightgown. It didn't matter to her; she would often spend the majority of occasional days at home lounging around in her sleeping attire. But for Igntous' sake of his moral standards, she tied the thing about her middle and sat down on her bed.
She noticed he reacted briefly to her attire, but he must have understood as she did. She came from a different time when such a thing didn't make a difference. Seeing her fold her robe about her middle, though, added a slight flush to Ignotus' cheeks.
"What is it?" she immediately pried.
Ignotus tried to smile, swallowing a lump in his throat. "What? No proper hello?"
"Oh," she said under her breath. "Hello, Ignotus."
His look of disappointment was inevitable, but he quickly moved past it. He rubbed the back of his neck uneasily. "I - uh...Oh God. Where to begin?"
"From the beginning," she found herself encouraging, feeling her lungs clench with lack of air. She tried to act as if everything was all right. If Jocosa hadn't told her of the men's conversation downstairs, she knew she would have greeted him with a smile and a hug, and she would have pestered him with questions about his trip. "How was your hunting trip?"
"It was wonderful," Ignotus answered as he shut the door behind him. He positioned himself in the red arm chair beside Dominique's bed where she sat. "It truly was. I did not know how much I needed time away. Away from everything."
"I'm pleased to hear that. But then why do you look so...disturbed?" she asked.
"Because I just..." he faltered, rubbing the stubble along his jaw in anxiety, "I had the most surprising conversation with Callum just now."
When he stopped speaking, she gave him a look for him to continue on. "He..." began Ignotus, and his brow furrowed with the pain of the conversation. "He asked to marry you."
Dominique seized up at hearing the words from Ignotus' mouth. She knew what he was going to tell her, but it was like a surprise all over again. She felt her breath catch in her throat, her head grow fuzzy. "He what?!"
"He asked to marry you..." whispered Ignotus painfully.
Dominique sat still for many moments. While she didn't know what persuaded Ignotus to act one way or the other, she found that she was truly grateful to see him be saddened by this proposal. This was proof to her that his feelings were still there and very real.
"And what did you tell him?" breathed Dominique after she had gathered her bearings.
"I told him I would think about it."
"You told him that you would think about it?!" she gasped in shock. She looked to Ignotus, reproachful and with her mouth agape.
He looked to her humbly and seemingly lost. "Well, yes," he groaned. "I knew I could not give him a solid answer. Not without consulting you. It was the most polite thing to do."
Dominique found the faintest sense of anger reach her. She rose from her spot on her bed and begin to pace about her bedroom. She gnawed on her nails to give her hands something to do, and Ignotus watched her with a pained and curious expression. She wrinkled her nose, exasperation entering her voice. "Oh, well, thank you very much for including me in the decision of my future!"
"Dominique," Ignotus gave a heavy sigh and shook his head, "do not mock me."
She rolled her eyes and continued to pace. "But what about me? Do I not have a say in my own future?!"
He grew speechless at that. He only continued to watch her. What was he to tell her? He understood that their times were different, but she was in 1234. What could he possibly do about the entire situation? He had to act how he normally would in this situation if Dominique were truly his ward because of the loss of her family. It pained him to see her like this. In many ways. He didn't want to see Dominique marry Callum. He didn't want to see her marry anyone but him, but he couldn't have her. He knew he couldn't be with her. But that didn't make anything any easier.
It upset him, also, to know how much this bothered Dominique. Perhaps not so much the prospect of marrying Callum, but having no say in her life.
He finally worked up the courage to be forthright with her, despite how much he wanted to tell her she could do whatever she wanted, she could be with who she wanted, and she could do it of her own free will. "You can't," he whispered. "Not here. Not freely. I will do what I can for you."
"But - urgh, Ignotus!" she groaned. She didn't remember the last time she had truly been angry. She was a more passive person when it came to arguments, but now? This was different. This was about her getting married, for Merlin's sake! She couldn't be passive in this situation. "Where I come from, Ignotus, we don't marry just because we fancy someone! Nor does anyone else make the decision! We marry when we love each other and know we want to spend the rest of our lives together! I may be in your time, but I will not let you make such a pivotal decision for me! This is my decision to make. I will make it, and you will just have to come up with an excuse for Callum."
He pursed his lips. Was he seriously being bossed around by Dominique? He knew he should have been appalled, offended, and he would have it if were any other woman, but Ignotus found himself even more fascinated by her courage and independence.
"Very well," he passively answered. "I know I cannot stop you. You are a headstrong woman."
At his comment, she folded her arms across her chest and nodded her head with pride.
"Why is it your decision to make, anyway?" she asked. She was scornful but also truly curious as to why the right was Ignotus'.
"Because you have no family here," he answered truthfully. "If the marriage is not arranged by the parents beforehand, permission is asked of the father. But you have no family and have no higher authority over you. I am your ward, and because it is my responsibility to guard and protect you, as well as care for you and give you a home, the responsibility falls upon me."
"That's just - " she burst, but faltered, as she didn't quite know what to say. She pressed her palms into her eye sockets as she paced. "It's just ridiculous! Ridiculous, Ignotus, and it isn't fair!"
"I am so sorry..." he apologized sincerely, his eyes growing sad as he watched her. When she said nothing more, he asked after a few minutes, slightly unsure if he was taking it a step too far and if Dominique just wished to let the conversation go for now. "What would you decide? If it was your decision to make."
"I don't know..." she answered truthfully.
And she didn't. She knew she wouldn't give an outright yes. But she found herself believing that she wouldn't give an outright no either. This surprised her. She knew her chances of returning home were very unlikely. She had long ago accepted that 1234 was her home now. Despite her trips into Godric's Hollow when she would by supplies bit by bit so she had the ingredients to concoct what potions had spilled and mixed with her blood to bring her here, she didn't think she would ever be successful - even if she decided to leave one day. She had been happy here. She hadn't wanted to leave.
But with a decision such as this, what was she to do? She couldn't ignore her feelings for Ignotus. How could she marry his best friend when her feelings for him were the strongest she had ever felt for a man? But how could she also marry a man that - yes, she found perfectly charming and got along exceptionally well with - she didn't love?
But if she weren't to be with Ignotus, then she realized that Callum Conway would be her second choice. She didn't want to wander around 1234, forever alone, and Ignotus was right. She had no family, no money, and no title to her name. With nothing to offer her husband other than the love of a wife, there was a very small chance that she could ever marry any better in 1234. Ignotus was what gave her a chance for a successful future. If she wasn't to marry Ignotus, then this would be the best offer she would ever receive, and she knew she couldn't rely on Ignotus for the rest of her life.
Ignotus seemed appalled by her answer, for his passive state finally left, and he asked in great surprise, his mouth dropping. "You do not know?!"
"Well no!" she cried out horrifically and grabbed onto her head, spinning around to look at him. "Ignotus, you...I...I would be lucky to marry a man such as Callum, so it gives me an incentive to say yes! But then...Ignotus, our fee - "
She broke off. She didn't know how to say it. But Ignotus seemed to know what was on the tip of her tongue. He rose with anticipation and walked to her. He caught her hands and pried them away from her head, and he held them between their bodies, his thumb pressing gently into her palms. He looked to her hopefully. He knew it was wrong; he knew he couldn't admit his feelings for Dominique, nor could he be overly physical with her. But something pulled him to her. He couldn't resist her anymore, and he didn't want to.
"Yes?" he encouraged.
She was troubled. She shook her head painfully, squeezing her eyes shut and looking to the ground as he held her hands. Finally, she didn't hold it back any longer. Her thoughts came forward in a quick flurry of angry accusations. "I can't take it anymore! How you treat me! What you do to me! Do you fancy me, or not?! We kissed that night after the party, and it was wonderful. To me at least, dammit! And ever since then I can't tell what's going through your mind, but you're driving me mad with the way you disregard me completely and then are suddenly touchy with me and jealous in the next! You have to be honest with me. What are your feelings for me, Ignotus?"
He dropped her hands, choking on a heavy swallow. "I c-cannot say," he said painfully.
"No," she begged and this time she was the one who approached him. She placed her hand against this cheek, and even as Ignotus verbally refused, he turned his cheek lovingly into her palm, his eyes fluttering. "Ignotus, please. Be honest with me. Just tell me." He raised his head to her, his eyes glistening with tears of frustration. His breath was heavy as Dominique looked to him with anticipation, waiting for the moment when he would finally speak again.
He didn't know what to say, but he wanted to do as he asked. He wanted to be honest with her. But he found that no words would come.
Abandoning all words completely, he let his actions speak for him. He took one bold step forward and kissed Dominique full on the mouth. His hands went to cup her face as his mouth moved against hers, and Dominique was quick to respond. Her arms shot around his neck as she savored the kiss, rising up onto her tip-toes to be even closer to him. She pressed herself full against him, and his arms trailed down the length of her arms and to her hips, where they snaked around to her back and held her flush against him.
Kissing him this time was different from the first. That time he had been slow and unsure while kissing her with delicacy. This was entirely different. This kiss was full of lust and want, desire for all those weeks they had gone since their first kiss. Ignotus was sure of himself as he moved; he kissed her the way his heart told him to as his impulsive act coursed through his veins, setting his skin and soul on fire, sending his heart into a rapid rhythm.
"Oh, Ignotus," moaned Dominique into his mouth when they both took a deep breath.
Ignotus made a satisfactory grunt of agreement as he pressed his mouth to hers once more. She stumbled back with the force of his mouth on hers again, but Ignotus wouldn't let her fall or even separate her body from his. Instead, he stepped back with her, holding her tight to him, and he continued to walk back until he knew Dominique was pressed against the wall of her bedroom. With her pinned there, he pressed his body tight to hers, their mouths moving in perfect unison.
Her hands travelled up his chest, around his collar bone, up his neck, and into his hair. As she tugged on his long, raven locks, she brought his head closer to hers.
He responded with great interest. His hands moved from her face and down her neck. His long, fine fingers tickled her skin, and his worked their way down her shoulders, pushing her robe down with them. When her robe punched up around her middle, she helped him by untying the thing from about her waist, and she pushed it down her wrists, letting the intricately made thing fall to the floor.
When Ignotus grasped her hips again, he seemed to slow down, and in the next moment, he was jumping away from her as if she were fire. He stumbled back, his hands moving to his mouth in surprise with himself.
Dominique gasped in shock and surprise. "Ignotus?"
"I-I am sorry," he whispered, gasping for air. He turned away from her, embarrassed. "I should not have done that. That was rash of me."
"What?!" she blurted out, appalled.
She thought everything was finally going right. She thought he was finally kissing her because he was admitting his feelings for her. She thought she could finally be with him. What the hell had he meant by kissing her then?!
He latched on to his head and groaned.
"What do you mean it was rash?!" she demanded to know. "Ignotus, I thought...I thought you wanted that! I wanted it!"
"I do, Dominique," he admitted, and he raised his gaze to her, pained, "but I just cannot."
"And why not?!" she shouted horrendously. She was tired of playing this game with him, of going back and forth on where they stood in whatever relationship they had with one another.
"I just can't," he moaned. He wasn't ready to tell her that he was to be married. Not yet, and not like this.
"That's not a reason, Ignotus!" she groaned painfully. "I'm tired of you acting this way with me! Do you fancy me or not and will you be with me or will you not be with me?! Stop leading me on and then pushing me away!"
"I am so sorry," he moaned again. He knew he must have been causing her stress and confusion, but hearing her voice it was just a reminder of how truly selfish and inconsiderate he was being in this situation.
"Tell me why you're doing this to me!" she begged. She had never been so hurt or confused by a man.
He nodded, but when he looked at her, he closed his eyes and turned his head away. He humbly asked of her, "Will you please put your robe back on?"
Huffing, she bent down to snatch the thing up off the floor. When she had pulled it on over her shoulders and covered the revealing nightgown with the fine fabric, she went over to Ignotus and sat beside him on her bed.
"Come on, Ignotus," she urged, this time more calmly. She decided anger wasn't perhaps the best way to approach the situation, despite how frustrated she may be. "Tell me."
It took him a good while. For many moments he just stared at the floor, biting his lower lip, until finally he looked to her. "Please do not take offense to this," he began. "I do have feelings for you. Very strong feelings; I do, but I just cannot be with you. It is not right. It is not appropriate. I am a Lord. You are..."
He faltered; he didn't know how to put it politely.
"I'm a nobody..."she spoke for him, looking to her hands in her lap. She suddenly felt as if she was beginning to understand the magnitude of the situation. She had gone through her days thinking that her class didn't matter. She was had no title to her name to the people of Godric's Hollow, but that had yet to make a difference. The people loved her, and sure, she was addressed as a lady, but she had no title, no money, and no claim.
She had been able to charm her way into the hearts of those in Godric's Hollow, but she hadn't realized that that would only get her so far.
"In the social sense, yes, but not to me. You are not a nobody to me, Dominique," he answered. He turned to grab her hands, and he held them between his own. "You have become...everything to me."
"Then why can't you put aside whatever it is to be with me? If I'm really everything to you. Who cares if I'm a nobody? I know it may be a lot to ask, but why, Ignotus? Why not? Are you embarrassed of what people will think of me?"
"What?" he gasped. "No! I...Godric's Hollow loves you. It...It would be my mother," he came up with a quick excuse for Brigid Pellinor.
"It would disappoint her if I were to marry anyone but a noble," he said gently. "I am her only son still living. I must not disappoint her."
"I see..." she replied painfully, turning her gaze away from him.
"I am truly sorry," he said. She could feel his gaze scorching her, setting her on fire. "I apologize for being the way I have been with you. For letting you think I could be with you. I was not thinking. I had yet to sort my thoughts. I was constantly fighting a battle whether to be with you or not. I had not decided, but I know I cannot now."
"So you really can't?" she murmured painfully.
"No..." he said, his voice barely audible. He still did not let go of her hands, though.
With that, she yanked her hands free of his and rose. She began pacing about her bedroom once more, her arms folded across her chest, and her brief spurts of anger beginning to return. "Why did you even let this go so far? Were you ever going to tell me? You should have told me before - "
She faltered. She didn't quite know what she was going to say, or if she was prepared to say it. Even if she was and knew it to be true, she didn't know if she could admit it to Ignotus. Not now. Not when he said he couldn't be with her.
"Before what?" he pressed. He looked to her, his eyes swimming with something she didn't quite understand from him. Anticipation? Desire for her unspoken words?
"Before I started to fall in love with you, Ignotus!" she blurted.
When the words came spilling out of her mouth, she clamped her hand over it and let her eyes grow wide. She hadn't meant to say it.
"No," he moaned, his head tilted in misery and his eyes swimming with sorrow. "No, Dominique. Oh please tell me you don't. Please."
He cringed and latched onto his head. Humble Ignotus hated the idea of a woman he couldn't be with loving him. Especially Dominique when all he wanted to do was be with her. He didn't want to make her unhappy. There was no coming back from love, and Ignotus knew better than anyone that living without the ones you love was one of the most painful of life's endeavors. And she had already lost her family. She didn't need to love a man who couldn't return it.
"It's too late," she said sternly. She had admitted it to him, so she might as well stand by her word. "I'm falling in love with you."
"Oh, Dominique," he breathed painfully. "I am sorry. So sorry. You are everything to me, and if I had my way, I would be with you until the end of my days. But it isn't my decision to make. If I was in your time, I would be with you. I would...But...I have no control over the matter."
"Maybe your mother would understand," she said quickly. She began to rant; maybe she was even speaking nonsense. "Cadmus was going to marry Seraphine, wasn't he? She wasn't a noble, right?"
"Seraphine was an exception. She was carrying Cadmus' child, and Mother is against the idea of a child born out of wedlock within her family."
Dominique felt her shoulders slouch in sadness. She fell onto her bed beside him once more. "And we can't even try to...be together," she tried to put it delicately, "until you're engaged?"
He turned to her sympathetically. "Would that not make it all the harder to end it when the time came? I believe that, if I discovered what it would be like to be with you, I would never want to leave you."
"Then be with me," she breathed, and crawled to him. Her hands went for the tie around his cloak. She had untied it with her long, fine fingers and it had fluttered to the bed before he could even stop her. She breathed against his neck and let her hands move to his cheeks, feeling the stubble that had grown during his hunting trip. She liked the way it tickled her skin. "Be with me, and never leave me."
"You are making this so bloody difficult," he moaned even as she moved closer to him. She crawled into his lap just as she had done the night of their first kiss, and she kissed him again. Slowly, drinking him in.
She could feel him giving in to her touch. At first he seized up when she kissed him, but he was slowly responding. First his lips began to move against hers, and then his hands went to her hips. She gave only a slight amount of pressure to his shoulders, and he willingly lay back against her bed.
When she pressed her body against his, though, he was his adamant self once more. Instead of pulling her closer, he gripped her hips tight and picked her small form up from his body. He set her on the bed, and he jumped up from beside her. He was the one to pace this time, and he gnawed on the nail of his thumb, shaking his head.
"No, no," he said quickly. "I want to, Dominique, I do, but I cannot taint you in such a way! I cannot be the one to make you impure for any man you may marry!"
"I'm already impure!" she blurted, using his delicate term. He looked to her in horrified shock, but he seemed to quickly move past it. Dominique knew it would be a big deal to him, of course with the standards of 1234, but in her time, it would not have been such a big deal. She had been dating the guy for quite some time when it happened, but that didn't matter now. Luckily, though, Ignotus' look of shock quickly faded and he was back to his self-loathing ways.
"I am sorry," he said again. "Truly. I cannot and will not be with you."
She felt tears reach her eyes at that. As if he had truly said the final word. This was his final and last stand on the matter, and she had accepted it.
"Fine," she said quickly as she sat on her knees. She fidgeted with her gown to give her something to do, and she pushed down her hair that Ignotus had distorted, and she adjusted her robe. "Fine then."
"W-What will you do?" he breathed, seeming surprised at her surrender.
"If I can't be with you, then there's only one thing I will do," she said sternly, and she swiped the tears away from her eyes. "I'll marry Callum."
"Dominique..." he moaned with a sympathetic look.
"What, Ignotus?!" she snapped and rose from her bed. "I understand the situation I'm in! I will never get a better offer than Callum, and if I can't be with you, then I will be with him."
"Do not marry Callum because you are angry with me! Do not marry him out of spite!" he shouted arduously.
"I'm not marrying him out of spite, Ignotus!" she retorted, and that was when she had had enough discussion for one night. She needed time to herself, time to think things through. "Now, go and leave me alone. Goodnight."
He stood there in silence for many moments, his mouth pursed as if debating his words. When he didn't budge, Dominique pointed to her door and said with a stern harshness. "I said goodnight!"
His eyes moved downward in sorrow, and he finally moved for the door. He let himself out without a word, and once he had shut her door, he felt his knees give out. He slid down the door of Dominique's bedroom, his eyes squeezing shut to force away his tears. On the ground, he took his head into his hands and moaned.
He couldn't believe the situation he had put himself in. He was such a people-pleaser, and he knew that that was ultimately his issue. He wanted to please Brigid by giving her the chance to marry her childhood sweetheart; he wanted to make his mother and Edric Pellinor happy with their union. He wanted to make Cadmus happy by letting him marry Dominique, but more importantly he wanted Dominique to be happy. He knew her happiness would coincide with his own, but why did their happiness to come at such a price? Why would their happiness have to cause everyone else so much sorrow?
It wasn't fair, and he truly didn't know what to do. He knew abandoning his promise to marry Brigid was the wrong thing to do. Marrying Brigid would be the noble and the right thing to do, but could he really run away from his heart like that?
He had always been a man to follow his instincts and to follow his heart, wherever it led him. It had never led him astray, and luckily for him, it had always coincided with the path of moral and obligatory righteousness. So why did he now have to face such a difficult choice?
But by refusing Dominique just now, had he ultimately made up his mind? He believed he had. He would have turned to either of his brothers for advice if they were still alive, but Death clearly had other plans. He couldn't ask his mother for her opinion, though, for Eirene would find out the woman was Dominique and she would most surely have Dominique sent elsewhere, to be someone else's ward, but Ignotus wouldn't have that. If he couldn't be with her, he at least wanted her close so he could keep a watchful eye on her.
He groaned for how his life had unfolded, and he prayed for a sign to lead him down the right path. Because one thing was for certain that Ignotus had tried so hard to not admit: he, too, was falling in love.
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