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Chapter 15 : The Bride To Be
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With that, again, thanks to those who have been patient with me and with a particular blonde man with an interest in Dominique. ;) Thanks for having patience and bearing with me on that as well. ;)
That said, here is chapter 15! Be sure to leave your thoughts! Especially on Callum. ;)
gorgeous chapter image by wishaway. @ TDA
"Dominique," groaned Ignotus as he stood in the doorway of her chambers. He leaned against the door frame and watched her as Jocosa did her hair for the day. He watched his faithful servant plait her hair and then twist it into an elegant bun at the base of her neck, pulling tendrils free from its pins. He tried to reason with her. "Please. You do not have to do this."
Dominique looked to his reflection in the mirror. She took in his contorted expression of dismay and sorrow. The area around his eyes was sunken with his lack of sleep. It pained her to see him in such a state, but she knew it had to be this way. He had adamantly refused to be with her, and Dominique knew this was what she wanted. If she couldn't be with Ignotus, then she would be with Callum.
"I know I don't have to," she replied back, trying to withhold any anger or frustration she may have. "I told you. I want to."
When Jocosa was done with her hair, she dropped her hands and took a step back, appraising her work. Seeing that she was done fixing up Dominique for Callum's arrival, Ignotus dismissed her. Jocosa parted with a curtsy, and she closed the door behind her as Ignotus stepped fully inside. Dominique rose from where she was perched at her vanity and turned to him. She took his hands into her own to reassure him.
While she was frustrated with him for his refusal to even try to be with her, she didn't want him to beat himself up over it. She tried to trust his judgment; she did her best to convince herself that Ignotus was making the decision he truly believed to be best. She knew he cared greatly for her; that much was obvious, and if this was the decision he made, then Dominique had to believe he made the right one for all the right reasons. So she put her anger behind her and instead tried to convince him everything was all right.
It had taken her a few days to realize that this was the best approach to the situation, but after much deliberation, she knew she was right in doing so. She was taking the highroad by consoling Ignotus while trying to persuade herself that Ignotus was only thinking of their best interests. She knew she wasn't letting her own desires get in the way of her actions.
"Please," she encouraged him. "Let it go, Ignotus. You and I can't be; you've made that decision, and you've made it clear. So I told you, this is what I want."
"Can you promise me he will make you happy?" he asked, his voice full of sorrow. She could tell he gave in to his desires, for his hands crept up to cup her face. He wouldn't hold back. Not now. Not when he was sure this would be his last moment of intimacy with her. He would drink in what intimacy they would share in these last few moments together before Dominique would become a betrothed woman.
She thought about that. She didn't like making promises she wasn't certain she could keep, but she thought harder on it. On Callum. Of the life she would have with him, and she found herself believing that yes, he would make her happy. Maybe one day she could even love him. She and Callum were too much the same person to spend their lives happily together.
She nodded honestly, and she smiled. "I promise," she encouraged, and she tried to ignore the fact that Ignotus even looked slightly hurt to hear that someone else would be the provider of her happiness.
Can't have it both ways, pal, she thought.
"He will make me happy," she said again. "Callum and I will be happy together."
With Ignotus' hands so lovingly on her face, she knew this was a true moment of clarity between the two of them. Neither of them was hiding anything from the other. There was nothing holding them back, no social norms of what was right or wrong. It was just them, Dominique and Ignotus, in their last moments alone. So she let herself act freely. She placed her hands on his hips where his trousers always hung so seductively from with his leather belt strapped about them.
She felt her fingers clench with the desire to move across his body, to feel him and explore every crevice of his beautifully sculpted frame. They crept across his stomach and up to his chest where her palms flattened against him.
"Good," he replied, and he shortened the distance between them by taking a step forward. His fingers went to push back the tendrils from her face. "Because I could not bear to see you unhappy and for it to be my doing. Even though you will belong to another man, you will always have a place in my heart, Dominique."
She felt her eyes swell with tears. A man had never made her cry before. She batted her eyes to keep the tears at bay, and she turned her face away from him to hide her weak demeanor, but she wasn't good enough.
"No, no," Ignotus moaned quickly, and he brushed away the tears that had clung to her eyelashes. "Do not cry. Crying means sadness, and you promised me you would be happy. Happy, Dominique."
"I - will be," she hiccupped and turned her face back into his palm. "I will be happy with him. I promise. It just upsets me to not be with you."
His lips quivered as he attempted to speak, but he found he didn't know what to say. He finally swallowed and gave a single nod. "I know," he agreed. "It upsets me too."
He faltered, and they continued to hold one another, their eyes locked as they shared a mutual and meaningful silence. When he knew Callum must be arriving at any moment, he found the will to speak again, and his words surprised even himself.
"May I kiss you? One last time," he asked.
"Please do," she breathed in agreement.
He did not delay for a moment longer. He swiftly closed the remaining space between their bodies, and he engulfed her into his embrace. He kissed her gently, yet longingly and passionately. He tried to kiss her with everything he had, to show her that he would always care for her, that his feelings for her would never go away. He kissed her with everything he could muster, and he was pleased when Dominique responded just the same. Her arms went up and around his neck. He felt her lift herself up on her tiptoes to be even closer to him.
When he thought about pulling away and of never kissing her again, he found that he couldn't. He found the passion in their kiss intensifying. He clung tighter to her hips, and he could feel her doing the same. She gripped locks of his hair, deepening the kiss, and he began to feel a dampness against her cheeks and seeping between her lips. He finally realized the wetness was coming from her tears.
He moaned into her mouth, kissing her between each word. "Please do not cry," he begged, feeling himself pained by her hurting. "Please do not cry."
He quickly resumed kissing her. He didn't want to waste a single second. He didn't have much time, and if he believed this to be the last time he would kiss her, he wanted to soak up every second of it.
She only nodded at his request, but that didn't stop her tears. She continued to kiss him, though, her kisses full of longing and full of desperation. She clung to him, and when Ignotus knew they were running out of time, he broke away to breathe into her mouth.
"No kiss with you could ever be enough to last a lifetime," he moaned, and then he kissed her one more time.
He didn't know how he could ever find the strength to stop. How could he stop kissing her when he knew his feelings for her, when he believed he would never feel this way for any other woman? How could he let go of something so special and so dear when he never thought he would feel so strongly as this? He didn't know how he was supposed to let go of the woman in his arms who clung to him, just as desperate to keep him there.
He finally broke their kiss and peeled his body from hers. When he stepped back, he wiped Dominique's cheeks with his thumb, and he adjusted her curls for her. While he straightened out her appearance, she sniffed and blinked back any more tears until any signs of her crying had gone completely. When she looked more than presentable, Ignotus tried to muster a genuine smile. He offered her his hand as he made way for the door.
"Come," he encouraged. "It is time to greet your betrothed."
She took his outstretched hand and together they abandoned her bedroom and made their way into the sitting room. They were only sitting for a minute when a knock came from the door, and Jocosa quickly scurried to answer it. Ignotus rose from his spot in his favorite arm chair, and he wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers. Dominique bit the inside of her cheek to withhold her giggle at him; she could swear Ignotus looked more nervous about the situation than she was. She was the one getting engaged, after all.
When she heard Callum's regular, jocund greeting, Dominique turned and rose to face the entrance of the room. She watched Jocosa take his cape from him, hang it up, and then lead him into the room.
When she first spotted him, Dominique could sense anxiety within Callum. She could see it in his eyes and she could see it in how he held himself. He normally walked loosely, without a care in the world, and his eyes were always full of life. Today she could tell he was nervous, for his frame was rigid with apprehension and his eyes were swimming with fear of what Ignotus' answer may be. But for some reason, all that seemed to fade when he saw Dominique standing before him. She watched all that anxiety fade from him in an instant, and his happy demeanor quickly resumed.
Perhaps he knew what Ignotus' answer would be just upon seeing her. She believed she wouldn't have attended their gathering if Ignotus' answer was no; that would have been much too awkward a situation. Perhaps Callum knew this as well, and therefore seeing Dominique at their gathering had to be a good sign.
His eyes passed over her, and he smiled, but he greeted Ignotus first as he respectfully should. He embraced his friend joyfully, clapping him on the back.
"Ignotus, my friend!" declared Callum. "What a lovely day it is, and I do hope you have some lovely news for me, as well."
When he released Ignotus, Callum turned back to Dominique, and he gracefully took one of her hands into his own. He dropped into a low bow and kissed the back of her hand. "My Lady," he said in a low voice.
Dominique curtsied in return. She couldn't help but smile at his charm. "My Lord," she greeted in reply.
"Yes, indeed," Ignotus replied to Callum's previous statement. Dominique was aware of Ignotus sucking a deep courageous breath, for he was giving her away for good. "We do have lovely news for you."
Callum beamed. "Oh, you do?"
"Certainly," nodded Ignotus. "Callum, it would be my honor to give you the Lady Dominique's hand in marriage."
Callum beamed. His smile grew to the biggest Dominique had ever seen. Dimples formed in his cheeks, and she could see how happy he was upon this news. He still maintained what respect for Ignotus he knew he should in such a situation, so he addressed Ignotus first. He grabbed his hand and shook it thankfully.
"Oh, Ignotus!" burst Callum in happiness. "Thank you, my dear friend. Thank you!"
Ignotus actually chuckled, and Dominique forced herself to tear her gaze away from Callum's expression and to Ignotus'. She wanted to see if his laughter and attitude was true, and as soon as she looked into Ignotus' eyes, she knew his emotions were real. His smile was just as real as Callum's; perhaps he was able to set aside his bitter attitude due to seeing just how happy this news made his friend.
When Callum released his friend's hand, he turned to Dominique. She stood before him with a big smile on her face as she watched him. To her, he looked like a happy child on Christmas morning. She knew this could very well be the happiest Callum had ever been in his entire life.
She didn't know what to expect from him as he turned to her, so she just stood there with her bright smile, and she was pleasantly surprised when he took two long strides to reach her and he scooped her up into the air. In a quick flourish, he held her by her arms and he spun her around. As her skirts fanned out, she couldn't help but giggle. She placed her hands on Callum's shoulders for support as he spun her.
Just after the world began to spin around her and she felt her heart's beat quicken, he set her down and embraced her. Dominique returned it as she wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her cheek to his chest.
Maybe she didn't have to lie to Ignotus anymore or put on a brave face, she thought. She hadn't known how a future with Callum would be, but she saw how happy the prospect of her being his wife made him. He was thrilled beyond imagination. And it was all because of her. All because he would have her. The thought of her finally making someone so unimaginably happy thrilled her.
She had never been the source of someone's pure happiness. She had always gone unnoticed at home. She was just a person in the background. Another face in the crowd. She had watched as other members of her family made each other happy, and all she could do was sit and watch the happiness unfold that she hadn't been a part of.
Now it was different. Now she was finally the one and true source of someone's happiness. And she may not love Callum, but perhaps that would come in time. For right now, though, making him so happy was all she needed to reaffirm her decision to marry him.
The next few days went by in a quick flurry of things for Dominique. It was a strange idea: to be preparing for her wedding, to be the village's next bride.
The news had been announced the moment Callum Conway left Ignotus' home the day he was told of the good news. Callum had departed with a bright smile and had rode throughout the town, sharing his excitement with everyone he passed. Dominique was congratulated for the betrothal, and Godric's Hollow was quick to throw together an engagement party for the young couple.
It was only three days later when Dominique and Ignotus rode their horses down to the village's local pub. Dominique had only been to the pub one other time for the Strathclyde wedding party she attended. She realized it was the first time she met Callum as well, and how appropriate she thought the entire thing seemed.
She found herself truly smiling as their horses trotted side by side down to the pub as the sun set in a distance. She and Ignotus shared a mutual silence as they came upon the pub. He helped her down from her horse, as they were careful to not tamper with her dress in any way before the evening had even begun. She wore a light-gold dress Ignotus had made specially for her. The collar and edges were embroidered with a deep gold thread, and the front part of her dress where her corset was underneath had been stitched with gold needles to create an intricate pattern of vines and flowers.
Jocosa had done her hair carefully. She had worn it plaited all day to give it extra waves and volume, and when it was time to get ready, Jocosa took them out and made a braid on each side of her head. Gold ribbon was weaved into them, and the braids were pinned back with white flowers at the back of her head.
When she was steady on the ground, Ignotus took the reins of their horses and tied them to the post along with the other horses of those who were already at the pub. With a smile he offered her his arm, and she took it enthusiastically. He led her up the steps of the pub and inside.
When the doors opened, Dominique was overwhelmed by the pleasant atmosphere. The pub had the same yellow glow she had remembered from the first time she was there. Hanging from the rafters were white fabrics, draped from rafter to rafter with flowers weaved in between them to give the pub a joyous atmosphere. She beamed as she looked to the decorated place and then to the people of Godric's Hollow who were already dancing and drinking merrily.
Upon her arrival, the room seemed to pause. The music subdued itself and the people turned to look at her. They smiled and clapped upon her entrance, and Ignotus gave her a grand introduction. Then the crowd parted from the dance floor and Callum stepped forward.
She couldn't help but let her smile grow. He looked splendidly happy, with his hair swept off to the side and his smile ever-growing. Ignotus released her arm, only for it to be taken by Callum, and he led her to the center of the dance floor where they began to dance.
The pub quickly resumed its joyful atmosphere. The music was once again loud and over-joying. People danced, laughed, and drank as the evening went on. Dominique had a splendid time chatting the night away with Callum and dancing with him. She took part in the majority of the ladies line dances, and she enjoyed catching up with the friends she had made throughout her stay since the wedding party. Everyone was enjoying themselves; Dominique even spotted Ignotus drinking a few ales with a few of his other friends and appearing to be having a grand time.
The evening went by in a flash, and she was actually sad to see it coming to its end.
She had just finished a line dance with the other women when Ignotus approached her on the dance floor for the next song. He asked for her hand, and she graciously accepted. She let him lead her back out onto the floor, and he pulled her close as the music began.
He grinned down to her as they swayed. "You appear to have had a marvelous night, my Lady," he suggested in a husky voice.
"I truly have," she replied with a smile.
"I am pleased," he said, and Dominique found his words to be true. She could see it in his eyes still; he was pleased to see her happy, despite the fact that she could sense the underlying sorrow in his words that he had given her up.
They danced in silence for quite some time until Ignotus finally spoke again. "I wanted to inform you that I shall be departing for the night after this dance with you. I have already spoken to Callum. He will accompany you home when you choose."
"Oh," she said, surprised. "All right then. Are you not enjoying yourself?"
"I am very much, Dominique," he said in a quiet voice, adding on her name in an undertone so no one else would hear him address her in such a way, "but the night is late, I have tired myself, and I have reasons that I shall not share, for I do not want to dampen your mood."
She pursed her lips. That was enough for her to figure it out herself. He was hurting. Hurting from watching her happily celebrate the fact that she would spend her life with another man. She gave a disgruntled sigh, but said no more. She didn't trust herself to say anything wise, so she left it at that.
When the song ended, he grabbed her hand to give it a gentle kiss. He then dropped into a small bow and departed, leaving her to watch him turn away from her, and that was the first time all night when she had felt not a trace of happiness. She felt her happy exterior quickly fade. She knew she would see him tomorrow and that he would always be in her life as a protective figure, but there was something about seeing him treat her with such formality and then turn his back on her. She felt her heart sadden and grow heavy.
She didn't want him to turn from her. In fact, she wanted to be with him solely and irrevocably. Him and only him.
But she couldn't have that. And she knew that. But she wouldn't leave 1234 either. She belonged here; this was her home now. She was happier here than she ever had been at home, and she reassured herself that Callum would give her a lifetime of happiness.
As if on cue, she felt his large, strong hands at the small of her back. She gave a small jump as she was pulled out of her thoughts, and she turned to him just as Ignotus slipped out of the pub. He cupped her face in his hands and smiled down at her.
"You are a beautiful and kind woman, Lady Dominique," he began, and she found herself surprised at his sudden declaration. "You shall make me a happy man by spending your life with me."
"And you shall make me a happy woman, my Lord," she responded, and she turned her face into his hands. Feeling his palm against her lips, she pressed a gentle kiss there. She could feel Callum's surprise. She had yet to kiss him anywhere, hand or cheek included. His surprise seemed to be in the fact that she had kissed his palm in public before their wedding, but she could tell that he hardly cared. He was too happy, and Dominique knew him to be a man of little social discretion.
He dropped his hands from her face, only to take one of her own into his.
"Shall we depart?" he asked in a quiet voice. His free hand went to toy with one of the locks of her hair. "I should like to spend the rest of the evening just you and I."
This surprised Dominique to a certain extent. She didn't blame him for wanting to spend the rest of the evening just the two of them, but she had learned what was acceptable over the few months she had spent in 1234. It wasn't custom for a man and a woman to be out too late, together and alone, unless they were married. Perhaps they would be an exception though because they were not betrothed, or perhaps Callum had no intention of them being seen at all. This, however, had no effect on Dominique at all.
So she found herself nodding, and she let him lace his fingers between hers. They quietly slipped out of the pub, going unnoticed to the few of those who remained. Callum went to untie her horse's reins from the post, bringing back her white horse in toe. Dominique smiled and patted her horse's belly, then looked to Callum in questioning.
"And your horse?"
"I shall fetch him later," he answered carelessly. "I promised Ignotus I would see you home safely."
Dominique didn't understand why that meant he had to leave his horse at the pub and return for it later, but she didn't question it further. She simply rolled her shoulders.
"Shall we walk or ride?" he asked.
She shrugged her shoulders again. She had no preference. The night was lovely; the breeze was cool and it rustled the trees, sending leaves dancing down the cobblestone streets.
"Very well," he replied with a chuckle and a smile.
Dominique was caught off guard when Callum grabbed her about the waist and heaved her up onto her horse. He set her upon her saddle, and when she had herself situated, she was even more surprised to see Callum climb up behind her.
She tried to hide a smile, for now her questions were answered. Callum was a clever man, and he clearly had his ways to inadvertently get what he wanted. He was leaving his horse at the pub for the sole reason to physically be close to her.
She giggled. She couldn't deny it was a smooth move.
When he was situated behind her, he gently kicked his heels up and they set off at a slow walk. He kept one hand on the reins and the other he settled around Dominique's waist to hold her steady and fast against his chest. His hand was warm on her hip as his palm was pressed firmly against her side, wrapping around to her stomach. He moved his fingers gently in smooth circles, and she could feel his breath against her ear.
They rode in a comfortable silence, and when they reached Igntous' home, Callum helped her down from her horse and took the creature into the stables for her. He returned a few minutes later and took her arm with a smile, leading her up to the front door.
As they walked, Dominique couldn't help but feel just how similar the situation was to her and just how little such a situation had changed over the course of 800 years. She felt like a teen again being walked up to the front steps of her home to meet a curfew after a date. It was all very familiar to her.
When they reached the door, he turned to her with a gentle smile, and his free hand went to brush back her curls, his palm coming to rest against her cheek.
"You know I am not a conventional man, but when it comes to you, I have the utmost respect for you and what is expected of me," he said.
She was fairly confused by his words. What exactly did he mean? Why say it now?
Then she seemed to work it out herself. She knew that look in his eyes she knew what the heavy breathing, the rapid beat of his heart, and that stern gaze meant. He wanted to kiss her, and she realized that she would let him.
She knew it probably wasn't the most acceptable of actions in 1234, but what did it matter? They were alone and they were betrothed. They also knew the other to be fairly unconventional, just as Callum had said, so she found herself persuading him further before she could even think twice.
"You know that I am not a conventional woman either, Callum," she said gently, and she placed her hands upon his chest for further persuading.
His lips separated in a grin as he understood her meaning, and she could see his admiration for her in the gleam in his eyes. He didn't need any more persuading after that. She pulled herself up on her tiptoes when she saw him lean in.
His kiss was gentle and soft, not at all how she had expected. She had expected a sort of raw passion from him, but this was pleasantly different. She was certain that that passion was in him somewhere, but as he said, he had the utmost respect for her, and understood that. Especially when he was kissing her before they were married.
His hands moved from her cheeks and into her hair, down her shoulders, and to her hands where he laced their fingers together. She kissed him back gently and sweetly, pleased to feel her own heart accelerate.
After a few more moments, he finally pulled away from her. His breath seemed to escape his lungs, and he found himself struggling to gain it back.
"The happiest day of my life shall be when you and I become husband and wife," he said gently, and then he sweetly kissed her forehead. Then he turned from her and bid her goodnight.
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