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Chapter 19 : The Power of Love
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- Year 1234 -
The next few days after Callum's death seemed endless. Dominique had worn mourning clothes after Cadmus' death, but this time it was completely different. Those thick, black dresses felt different this time; she felt as if their material weighed her down for the fortnight she wore them. They were a constant reminder of what she had lost in Callum and of what she would never have.
She had attended his funeral, of course, and it had been the most painful of experiences she had ever gone through. Cadmus' funeral was the first she had ever gone to, but once again, Callum's brought on an entirely new feeling and magnitude of sorrow.
She missed him, she did. She regretted now the days when she was angry at the entire prospect of having to marry Callum. Despite the fact that Callum hadn't known she felt this way, she still felt guilty for ever wishing to not marry him. Their betrothal had been short lived, and in his death, she wished him to have only experienced happy things, and she knew her thougths - if he had known - would have crushed him, and that's where her guilt came in.
But she knew she had made him happy in their short time together. She could see it when she was with him, and he had most certainly changed her opinion on the entire matter. While, yes, her first choice would always be Ignotus, she knew Callum would have truly made her happy someday. Perhaps she even could have loved him.
Now she would never know what the future would have been for her and Callum.
The next fortnight and the week after that seemed to go on for ages when Dominique just wanted them to be over. She was grateful when she was able to shed her mourning clothes by Ignotus' standards. She knew it was a notion out of respect, but to finally be out of the black allowed Dominique to finally feel as if she could move on. However, anytime she felt herself trying to move on, she felt as if she hit a wall. There was nowhere for her to move on to. Where did she go from here? She missed her family at home, yes, and she felt lost in 1234 now with the idea of never being with Ignotus and having lost the only man who would possibly just accept her for her and no money, but it wasn't enough for her to decide to go home.
She was searching in 1234 for something else to put her mind, heart, and time in. She knew Ignotus saw this in her as well, and she could tell he was doing his best to help her. She knew he had lost a dear friend in Callum's death as well, but he was more supportive for her than she could have ever hoped for. He was particularly kind and caring towards her; he spent every waking minute of his free time with her, and Dominique thought that would have potentially made their situation difficult with the romantic tension between the two of them, but it wasn't. It was comforting to always have him there. He would take her hand when they were alone, not in the romantic kind of way, but just in the reassuring type way. He was extraordinarily compassionate to her, and while his touch always made her yearn for more between them, she was grateful for it.
When Ignotus was busy or she found herself yearning for the presence of Callum again, she would find herself falling to her knees beside his grave in the Godric's Hollow cemetery. The time she spent there in the first fortnight since his death was reasonable; people expected it of her, and so no one questioned it. But when that first fortnight of mourning was over, and then the following week was over, and then as they were approaching the end of a second fortnight, she knew people would wonder if she would ever move on from his death. Time was closing in on one month since his death, and so Dominique took to the Cloak when she entered the cemetery so she wouldn't have to deal with anyone's sympathetic gaze.
She liked it better that way. She could mourn silently, and no one would pay her any mind. It was strange in a way, how she had reverted back to her ways at home. At home she unintentionally went unheard and unseen, and now she longed for it when she was in the cemetery. She didn't like everyone's constant fretting over her and if she would ever get better.
That was why it was okay for her to be sitting by Callum's grave one rainy afternoon. The rain was only a light drizzle, but the lightning and thunder in the sky were raging their own battles. None of this bothered her, though. Underneath the cloak, she simply leaned against Callum's tombstone in silence.
She didn't know what to say to him - or the tombstone - anymore these days. In her other times of visiting him, she had found herself talking. Just talking to Callum as if he were there and listening. She had told him everything: her story, how she got here, where she was truly from, how different this all was for her. She had even told him that she had feelings for Ignotus but she had truly been excited for her life with him. She wondered if he could hear her, if he knew all of this about her since she had shared it with his grave. She had asked him what it was he had whispered to Ignotus that had made him reply 'I already do' as if she would receive some sort of answer, but of course there was none.
But now, sitting here this day, she seemed to have run out of things to say.
She didn't know how long she had been there for, but surely Ignotus, Eirene, or Jocosa would come looking for her soon.
As if on cue, she raised her head to the sound of boots sloshing about on the muddied ground. She saw Ignotus opening the cemetery gate and letting himself in. He wore a somber expression, and she wondered what he was doing here, but when he began to move about very slowly and cautiously - as if he could run into something at any moment - she knew.
He was there for her. He had figured her out a long time ago. When he couldn't find her for hours on end and knew the second Cloak to be gone from her chambers, he knew what she was up to and where to find her.
He walked to Callum's grave very slowly, his hands slightly outstretched in front of him. Finally he reached the grave, and Dominique only watched him from beneath the cloak. She watched him scan the area around her, and then his hands more confidently moved towards her. They moved very slowly, very gently, and finally she felt one of his hands on the top of her head. When he knew he had made contact, he let out a heavy sigh, and he allowed himself to fully let his hand rest on her. He knelt down, and when he had situated himself, with his other hand he pulled back the hood of the cloak.
When her face was exposed, she looked to him.
He gave her a sad look. "My Lady," he said despairingly, "will you not come inside?"
Dominique didn't answer him. What was she to say? She had no reason to go inside. What would she do in there that she couldn't do out here with Callum?
When he saw that she wouldn't answer, he shook his head disdainfully. "It pains me to see you hurting so."
Yes, she was hurting, but she didn't know if that was truly the right word. It wasn't the fact that she was hurt that weighed her down and kept her out here; it was more the fact that she was lost. She was lost now in 1234. What was she to do now for the rest of her life? She couldn't be with Ignotus; he had made that clear, but what was she to do now? She knew Callum was dead and he wasn't coming back, and of course she missed him - she always would - but she had come to terms with the fact that he was dead. When she had shed her mourning clothes, she had truly begun to move on, and in a way she already had, but it was just the fact that Callum was the man who gave her a reason to stay in 1234 before he died. Now he was gone, and it was that aspect that was she was still clinging to. He had been that reason to stay, and now that he was gone, she was hoping he could somehow show her another reason. Guide her in the right direction.
She found herself blurting out a question before she could think twice about it. "What was it Callum told you before he died?"
Ignotus seemed surprised by her question. He set his jaw in a tight line, and Dominique could tell he was having an inner-debate about what to say. Finally he shook his head in refusal. "Perhaps I shall share another time."
She looked away from him and fell into silence once more. When she said and did nothing further, Ignotus finally prompted her. "Please come inside."
She debated saying something, moving in some way. In fact she was actually about to rise to her feet when there was a particularly loud clap of thunder, and then in the next moment, lighting struck the ground only feet away from them. The light was blindingly bright. They both let out a yelp; Ignotus fell back onto his bum and into the mud, and Dominique covered her head with her arms as if that would save her from anything.
When the moment had passed and they had both recovered from the sudden shock, Dominique whipped the entire cloak off of her body. She stood quickly and draped it over Ignotus' shoulders without a moment to lose, pulling it over his head. She knew what that lightning strike was about. What were the chances that lightning striking so close to them would be nothing more than a coincidence? It wasn't. Dominique knew it was the work of Death.
"The cloak, Ignotus!" she begged. For the time being, she felt like herself again, worrying for Ignotus and his safety, wondering when he would have to lead a life under the cloak. "When will you start to listen to me and wear the cloak?!"
Dominique couldn't see him anymore, but she knew he had risen from the ground, for she could see footprints form in the mud on the ground where his feet were as he moved from sitting to standing. He said nothing, though, and Dominique only shook her head in exasperation.
"You're on Death's hit list! He wants you dead. You have to be careful!"
"How could I have possibly known he would try to kill me by lightning?!" he said, his voice floating to her from where he stood. He seemed frustrated with her, but Dominique didn't care.
"You can't! That's why you need to wear the cloak!"
"And do what?" he questioned, mortified. "Live the rest of my life as an invisible man?!"
As he finished his question, he pulled the cloak off of him. This cloak was Dominique's, or her Uncle's, the one that was 800 years old, and so Ignotus quickly handed it back to her, for he didn't want to hold it any longer. He didn't like what Dominique was saying; he didn't want to believe that he would have to live his life under an Invisibility Cloak.
She took the cloak and gave a defeated sigh. With that, she stalked off from him and towards the exit of the graveyard.
"Dominique!" Ignotus called after her desperately. "Wait, my Lady. I just...How am I supposed to live a life under a cloak?"
Dominique didn't know what course through her veins then, but she found herself giving him a solid answer on that question. She quickly turned around and took a few bold steps towards him, her eyes piercing his with the intensity of what she had to say. "I don't know, Ignotus!" she began sarcastically. "Death wants you dead, and this cloak will hide you from him! We know he's making attempts on your life. He just did it only a minute ago! He may end up taking someone else's life to get to you! Collateral damage. People could get hurt, you will constantly have to be alert and aware of the threat you face! So I don't know, Ignotus, but protecting the one's you love seems like a pretty good incentive to me!"
"He would not..." breathed Ignotus in surprise. He understood completely what Dominique was saying, but he hadn't looked at it that way before. Now that she had taken away his ignorance on the matter, he suddenly saw it in a different light. "I never looked at it that way."
"Well, you should," she said sourly. "Because I could have been hurt just then. And who knows what he'll do next? Maybe he'll take Edmund down too if he has to. Or your mother. Who knows, the bandit incident could have been his entire doing as well! He tried to take you down in the ravine. Myself or Edmund could have been that collateral damage. And perhaps that's what Callum's death actually is. Your collateral damage."
Ignotus blanched, and then in that moment, he found himself truly angry. He would not allow her to make him feel such guilt. "Do not say that!" he shouted horrifically. "Callum's death was not my fault! You cannot blame me for the death of your betrothed!"
"I don't blame you for it, Ignotus..." she whispered, her angry and hurtful tone finally leaving. She knew she had hurt his feelings, and she hadn't intended to do that. She had only wanted to make him see the potential possibilities of what Death could do. So now she spoke lovingly and forgivingly. "I know his death isn't your fault. You just need to understand the unprecedented danger that you face. And I just...Ignotus, I can't lose you too!"
She found herself breaking down in the end. She collapsed against his chest, and he quickly caught her. His arms went around her, and he held her to his chest as she clung to his waist. She pressed her cheek to his chest and held onto him. She hoped she had made him understand now. She had lost Callum; she couldn't lose Ignotus too. He was all she had here, and she knew if she lost him in any way that she would leave, but that was beside the point.
At some point she had fallen in love with this man, and he was the only thing keeping her now.
For the rest of the day, Ignotus couldn't stop thinking about what Dominique had told him in the graveyard. About Callum's death. He knew she had said it as a mean for drastic measures, but he couldn't help questioning if she had been right. What if she was? Was Callum's death truly his fault? Was the bandit attack in the ravine generated by Death in order to get Ignotus into the ravine and into a danger with a possible death scenario? What if Callum's life really had been collateral damage from the choices of his brothers that day at the valley?
He hated himself for it now, and what he hated most was the fact that he would never know what would have been if he and his brothers hadn't crossed that valley and met Death. He could never know.
He did his best to force it from his mind. He already missed his friend enough; he didn't need to feel the guilt of Callum's death as well.
He could tell Dominique felt guilty for what she said to him afterwards, for once they went back inside the house, she was unusually sweet and talkative with him than she had been since Callum's death. They spent the rest of the day together when they had so often spent them apart since Callum's death. They would each steal away to their respectful chambers when they weren't busy, despite the fact that Ignotus would always console her in some way when they were together. But this day was different; the conversation in the graveyard changed things. Eirene spent the majority of the rainy day sewing a tapestry she had been working on for months now in her chambers, and so Dominique and Ignotus were free to spend the day together as they pleased but also take each other's hands when they desired without having to wonder what Eirene would think.
The day ended much sooner than Ignotus would have liked, considering the progress he and Dominique had made in the day, but he only hoped their relationship would continue to be the way it was this day.
They had bid goodnight to one another near an hour ago, and Ignotus lay in bed after he had shed his day's clothing and replaced it with a simple loose, white tunic and baggy trousers. He lay in bed with his arms above his head, his fingers laced together, and hands behind his head, staring hopelessly at his ceiling.
As much as he wished to fall asleep, he found that his mind would not obey. It was full of thoughts. Thoughts of his guilt about Callum, about a simple conversation with Dominique had improved their actions with one another, but most of all, he couldn't stop thinking about his feelings for her.
He had been able to choke them down once Dominique had accepted Callum's proposal. It had hurt him greatly to see the two of them together, and now that Callum was dead, Ignotus felt guilty for ever wishing to deny Dominique or Callum from one another. He had done well in forcing down his sexual desires and had been pleased to see that he could still love her in a strictly platonic way, but this day seemed to demolish all that progress he had made.
He couldn't take his mind off of her. Off how he felt when he was with her, of how beautiful she was, how kind and sweet, gentle when she wanted and fierce in the next. He loved how simply unpredictable she was at times because, even after five months, he was still trying to learn her ways. He loved her, and he knew it.
But he hated the fact that he couldn't be with her. He had to marry Brigid, and he wondered daily when he would find the courage to tell Dominique, but he knew the day was approaching. He couldn't keep it a secret for much longer. The planning would begin soon, and it would be inevitable then. He wondered if she would hate him for his lies, but he hoped she wouldn't.
He didn't want to marry Brigid, and he wished he had it in him to be the strong and defiant person that Dominique was. He wondered how he could find it in himself. He wanted to be with Dominique more than anything, so how could he find a way?
How angry would his mother truly be if he were to break off the engagement with Brigid? Fairly angry he knew, yes, but wouldn't she understand it was because he was in love? She was a woman, and Ignotus knew she had loved his father. Eirene knew what it was like to live without the one you love, so wouldn't she spare her son that same fate? Ignotus hoped she would...
Brigid and Edric would surely hate him for breaking it off, but what did that matter...? Did it really?
Ignotus found that it didn't. It wouldn't matter. At all. Because he would be happy and with the one he loved. And that was the power of love; so many things could be lost because of it, but it would be worth it. All the sacrifices would be worth it. Just for love.
And he had lost so many people so quickly. His brothers, and now Callum. If their three deaths had taught him anything, it was that life is too short to not make it worthwhile.
So what the hell had he been doing denying Dominique for so long?!
In the next moment, Ignotus didn't know what came over him, but he felt it arise from his heart, and he followed Dominique's advice from so long ago. Just do what your heart tells you. He found himself rising from his bed. He tossed back the covers, extinguished the light in his room, and made way for the door. He padded down the long hallway and to the other side of the house where Dominique's chambers were.
He could see a faint, golden glow coming from the crack beneath her door, so he knew she was awake. He found himself anxiously fiddling with his tunic. He briefly wondered if he was doing the right thing. Was this respectful? He knew if she were a woman of 1234, it would be anything but respectful to show up at a woman's chambers, but Dominique was not your average woman.
He forced away any and all thoughts that could turn him away from her chambers. It had taken him long enough to muster the courage to finally approach her and share his feelings with her; he couldn't allow himself to back away now.
He was just about to raise his fist and knock on the door when it suddenly opened beneath his hand. He gave a start, but Dominique was startled by his presence more than he was by the door.
She gasped in surprise and quickly covered her mouth with a hand to subdue herself. Ignotus blanched, and he felt his throat grow dry as he suddenly became parched with his loss of words.
Why hadn't he thought this through? When he left his room, he realized what he was doing, but what would he say?! Why hadn't he taken the time to figure out what he wanted to say? After so long of denying her, all he wanted was for every moment to be perfect with her.
"Ignotus," she whispered, "what are you doing?"
Dominique inspected his attire. She had never seen him in his sleeping attire before, and so she felt her cheeks grow pink. She wasn't a stranger to the form of a man; she had been with men and seen their figures, but there was something about the fact that it was Ignotus before her that made her blush. His trousers were looser than normal, as he wore no belt to hold them up. They hung loosely from his hips, and he wore a plain white tunic, untied at the neck, so it fell open across his chest, exposing much of his chest and abdomen. It was the most she had ever seen of him.
He finally straightened and cleared his throat. "Where were you going?" he asked in order to allow himself a moment more to gather his thoughts.
Dominique's blush grew even more with his question, and that did not go unnoticed to Ignotus. He knew what her answer was after that. He didn't need words to clarify. She had been heading for his chambers. Perhaps to do the very same thing he was doing.
She diverted the question to ask the same of him. "What are you doing at my chambers?"
He rubbed the back of his neck anxiously. He had never made a declaration of love to a woman before. What was he to say?
Finally he came out and said it. The words rolled off his tongue in a quick declaration.
"I love you," he breathed.
She seemed temporarily surprised, and silence took her, but she quickly recovered. She blinked rapidly, and then she smiled. Her reply escaped her in a quick rush of air. "Ignotus, I love you too."
"Then forgive me for being so foolish," he said quickly.
Then, before she could reply or hardly take in his words, he embraced her and kissed her full on the mouth. His kiss was full of longing and passion, and she responded quickly by wrapping her arms around his neck and drinking him in. They kissed like that for many moments, and Dominique wondered if he would pull away. So many kisses with him had ended with Ignotus changing his mind or refusing her. She hoped this time was different, but just to give him the time and encouraging he needed, she let him be the one to take it further.
For minutes, their kissing was heated and passionate. Then finally, his hold on her finally changed. His hands travelled from her back, to her side where they slid down her hips. When he had a firm hold of her, he took a step back. She followed his lead and continued to walk back with him. They disappeared into her bedroom, and when Ignotus knew they had cleared the threshold, he kicked the door shut, refusing to let go the woman in his arms for a single moment.
They continued to kiss in her room for the longest time, each kiss a new and exciting one. They finally moved once more, and when Dominique felt her bed at the back of her knees, she willingly complied. She gracefully lay back against the plush mattress, pulling Ignotus with her. He climbed on top of her and settled in between her legs as they continued their kissing. She felt his hands roam along her body and his breath grow heavy and heated; this pleased her. She was glad to see him doing what he wished and doing what felt instinctive and natural instead of worrying about what was considered proper or respectful. That didn't matter to her. Not in the least. The only thing that mattered was that Ignotus had finally admitted the truth of his feelings to her, and he was here, kissing her with enough love and passion to prove it.
He was slow and gentle, his touch romantic and spurring a fire deep within her. His hands moved up and along her stomach, across her chest and to the top of her dressing gown. When he pulled his lips away to kiss her neck, her hands went for the bottom of his tunic. She gently tugged at it to get her message across, and as he kissed a trail along her jaw, he arched his back so he could help in removing the thing piece of clothing from his body. He set it on the bed next to their bodies, and before they could return to kissing, Dominique took that moment to take in his form.
She had never seen him like this before with his chest exposed. His chest and stomach alone - sinew, hard and laced with muscle from years of wielding a sword and practicing archery - would have been sight enough to make her heart skip a beat, but seeing him with his chest heaving from their kissing and lined with a thin layer of sweat that coated his chest made her shiver and lose her breath. He smiled at seeing her reaction to seeing him, and so he took one of her hands and placed them delicately on his chest directly over his heart. His flesh was warm, and she could feel the rapid beating of his heart beneath her palm. She let her hand trail across his chest and down his stomach where she took the time to carefully analyze the feel of each raised ab. Her hands finally travelled back up his chest, and when she wrapped them around his neck once more, she pulled him down to her again and began to kiss him.
He settled happily on top of her again, their mouths moving in perfect rhythm. His fingers fumbled with the ties of her dressing gown, and she helped him free the thing from her chest and then pushed it down her shoulders. Before he did anything else, though, he slowed and came to a stop, his hands cupping her cheeks. He gave her one long, loving kiss before he spoke.
"Just tell me when to stop," he advised, for he didn't know how far she was willing to go with him and he didn't want to overstep their boundaries.
She gave him a wide smile, and she ran her fingers through her hair. "Oh, Ignotus. I'm not stopping you from anything."
He grinned and gave her a chaste kiss. “I love you, my Lady.”
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