Chapter 20 : The Noble House of Pellinor
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Dominique had never had such a good night's sleep in all her life. In fact, she didn't wish to wake up at all from how wonderfully she slept. She stirred from her slumber the next morning, feeling the air around her beginning to warm with the rising sun. She gave a pleased smile, her eyes still closed, feeling the plush covers of her bed twisted about her bare body. Lazily she reached out a hand and felt the bed beside her, trying to seek purchase on Ignotus' body. He had held her all night, and she had loved every minute of it.
She had always been a woman who liked her space when she went to sleep; she never thought she would be the type to enjoy cuddling, but it was an entirely different situation when it came to Ignotus. She wanted him to hold her fast to his fit body. She wanted to feel his arms around her, protective and loving, and she had. She only wanted that again even as she awoke, and so she tried to grab hold of him.
She was fairly surprised when she felt his hand take hers into his own. He laced their fingers together, and then she felt his other hand brush back her hair and come to rest on her cheek. That was when she opened her eyes, and there he was, sitting on the bed beside her and giving her a loving smile. The light surrounding them was dim with only the sun rising far off in the distance for light; it must have been very early in the morning.
"Good morning, my love," he said sweetly.
She grinned and yawned. "Good morning," she said lazily and she turned on her side to better look at him.
He was pulling on his trousers, which had been thrown onto the floor without care the night before. He tied the laces together as they hung on his hips, and Dominique furrowed her brow. She didn't want him to leave. Not yet. Why did their night have to end? Couldn't he stay longer? Couldn't they just stay there all day?
"What made you change your mind?" she asked sweetly, turning onto her side and moving closer to Ignotus. She moved in against his form, his back resting against the curve of her stomach as she lay there. He twisted his torso so he could wrap an arm around her as she lay there, and he gave her the most sincere smile.
He answered honestly. "A lot of thinking with the understanding and acceptance that this situation will require delicate handling. That, and I have lost too many loved ones. Too many to not be with them as I should in my life."
Dominique smiled. She wished it hadn't taken him so long; the time she had gone wondering if they could ever be and wallowing in her sadness of never being with him as she wanted had been excruciating. But she forced that aside; none of that mattered now because he was here and with her as he should be.
"I know it will be hard for you to tell your mother. I know what this might mean to your mother and how difficult this may be for you to break the rules of 1234, but Ignotus," she breathed in an airy, dreamy voice, nothing more than a whisper, "I can't tell you how happy this makes me."
He bent down to kiss her forehead, and he let his whisper carry to her. "I know. I must go back to my chambers."
At the mention of that, Dominique latched onto him. Her arms went around his neck, and she pulled his body flush against hers. He chuckled as he was pulled back to the bed, their chests pressed tightly together as she clamped his body to hers.
"Do you have to? Can't you stay?" she whined in a teasing fashion.
He knew she was messing around with him, but his answer was honest and serious. He squirmed about on top of her to free his arms so he could stroke her cheek.
"No, my love," he said sadly. "As I said, the fact that I will love you and be with you always requires gentle handling with my mother. You must give me time. Until then - "
"No one can know..." she finished for him, almost sounding disappointed, but she understood. He had already travelled leaps and bounds to accomplish the relationship they had only just established. He was doing so much and giving so much up for her. She would be patient with him. As patient as it took.
"That would be best," he said in reply. "It is why I must go at such an early hour. I must go before Jocosa awakes and sees us."
"I don't know how you wake up this early," she commented lazily. She had never been an early riser. She always slept well into the morning. One thing she had noticed was that she did wake up exceptionally earlier in 1234 than she ever did in 2022, but that was mostly due to Jocosa awaking her when she was supposed to. She didn't know how Ignotus awoke at so early an hour on his own. He was always up before her. Despite their different chambers, she knew this. After Jocosa had awoken her, dressed her, and she would finally leave her chambers for the day, she would always find Ignotus busying himself with the day's work.
"I have always awoken early, as I must," he commented. "It is simply a habit of my body now. But, love, I must go."
"Fine," she agreed but with a huff. When he pouted at her, she gave him a smile and pulled him in for another kiss.
"Do not fear," he said against her lips. "I will return to your chambers tonight."
"Then I can't wait for this day to be over already."
"Believe me, my Lady," he chuckled as he finally rose from the bed. He finished tying the laces of his trousers and began to search for the tunic that had been abandoned. "I yearn for it as well. I shall see you in a few hours. Go back to sleep."
She watched him as he turned from her, watching the muscles in his back move as he did so. He snatched his tunic off the floor and pulled it on over his head and headed for the door. When his hand wrapped around the knob, he turned back and gave her a smile. She returned it happily and then watched him go. She grabbed her dressing gown from where they had abandoned it the previous night, and she pulled it on so that Jocosa wouldn't find her sleeping naked in her bed. More than pleased with the previous night's events, she shimmied further down into the bed, tugging the covers up over her body once more. She fell asleep with the largest smile on her face.
The start of the day came soon for Dominique. It felt as if it was only moments later when she awoken by Jocosa's cheerful greeting as she opened her drapes to let the sunlight spill into the room. While Dominique normally would grunt and turn over, burying her face into her pillow, she actually smiled and stretched this time, pleased to awake. Jocosa titled her head to the side as she appraised her friend, noticing this difference.
"Well, look at you, Dominique," teased Jocosa. "Awake and ready to face the day!"
"It will be a good day," commented Dominique in a relaxed manner. Jocosa was her best friend; she was dying to tell Jocosa of her relationship with Ignotus, but she would trust Ignotus' judgment and keep it a secret until he had spoken with his mother first. Until then, she had to hide the truth from her. She sat up and pushed the covers off of her. "I can feel it."
And it was. When she was ready for the day, she went downstairs and saw Ignotus at the large, elegant table in the dining room and eating his breakfast. He looked to her and gave her a true and knowing smile. Dominique looked quickly around, saw that they were utterly alone, and she ran to him while she had the chance. She kissed him deeply as she sat at the table; she held onto him, savoring him, and she kissed him until she heard footsteps in the hall. When she part from him, his smile still evident on his lips, she backed away from him and took her seat at the table. She was already seated and pouring herself a glass of water as Eirene entered the room. She noticed both of their pleased and happy exteriors but made no comment.
The rest of the day continued on in a similar way. They stole from each other what kisses they could when no one was around, and Dominique only felt as if the day was dragging on and on. She only yearned for it to come to an end so she could spend the night in Ignotus' arms again.
In the afternoon, Ignotus left to help Edmund build a new stable for his horses, and he said he wouldn't be back till late. Dominique ended up helping Eirene with the quilt she had been making, and when night fell, she retired to her chambers for the night. She waited patiently in her chambers for him. She didn't have a single doubt in the world that he wouldn't come; it was only a matter of time. She knew he would come to her as soon as his mother and Jocosa had retired for the night.
She felt as if the wait would never end when finally there was a knock upon her door. She sat up straight as she lay on her bed in her dressing gown. On the other side, he didn't even wait for a reply. Ignotus let himself in, shut the door behind him, and he was giving her a smile and approaching her without a moment's delay. She rose to meet him, and she lovingly wrapped her arms around him. He cupped her face in her hands and pulled her close for a kiss. She savored the touch she had been yearning for all day.
When he pulled away, he brushed back her hair and asked her sweetly, guiding her to her bed where they sat down together. "How was the rest of your day, my love?"
She watched him lean back against her pillows and settle himself in for a conversation. She did the same; she crawled up the bed and next to him where she nuzzled against him. He instinctively put his arm around her and drew her close.
“It was fine," she answered. "I helped your mother with that quilt, then not much else. How was building the stable with Edmund?"
"Enjoyable, actually," he answered, seeming fairly surprised. "I do not mind physical labor, hence why I volunteered to help him, but Edmund and I had a nice time building together and also talking. We had not spent an enjoyable time together since before Callum's death. I even stayed after we finished for an ale. Despite all that, though, it was still exhausting."
"I am really glad to hear that, Ignotus," she smiled. "Truly."
"As am I, my Lady," he said as he turned onto his side to face her.
He slid further down as he laid there, turning and adjusting so they both lay on their sides and faced one another. He reached out and ran his fingers through her hair, watching each strand of strawberry blonde hair shimmer with the light of the candle glowing on the night stand. He whispered to her, feeling utterly mesmerized. "You are so beautiful, Dominique."
She felt her cheeks grow hot as she flushed, and she gave him a smile. There was nothing more to be said after that. He drew her in for a kiss, his arms going around her, and she rolled beneath him. The night went from there, and once again, Dominique found that she had never been happier in her entire life.
The next morning came much sooner than she would have liked, so even as she felt herself begin to awaken, she allowed her eyes to flutter shut once more and for sleep to take her again. This continued for quite some time, and it was a while later when she realized she was not alone as she had expected to be when morning came. She knew the sun had risen, for she could feel its heat warming the sheets around her. Morning had come, and yet she still felt Ignotus' thick, strong frame against her back.
Gently and careful not to wake him, she turned in his arms. There he was, peacefully asleep. She couldn't help but smile as she watched him. The rise and fall of his chest as he lay on his side, one arm tucked beneath the pillow and the other resting lazily on her hip. His thin lips were slightly parted as he snored delicately, and his hair, when so often pushed back and out of the way, had a few curls that had fallen forward and rested against his forehead. The sheets of the bed rested further down against his hips, exposing his chest and stomach to her.
She couldn't believe that she had awoken before him. He was so used to waking early, but then she remembered him saying that the building of the stables had tired and exhausted him. And even after he had said those things, they had still shared a night of loving lust and passion. So she let him sleep. She nuzzled into his body, his hand already against her waist limply falling around her as she moved closer to him. She buried her face into the crook of his neck, letting his breath toy with the hair behind her ear. Pleased, she gave a satisfied sigh and tried to let sleep take her again.
She found that she couldn't when the door to her chambers opened, and it was followed by the rustle of skirts against the wood of the floor and the voice of Jocosa.
"Good morning, Dominique!" she greeted in her voice that was always so cheerful and airy, even at the early hours of morning. "Time to - Oh, dear!"
In a matter of seconds, that peaceful tranquility Dominique had been enjoying only moments ago was stripped away from her. Ignotus gave a jolt from next to her, and they both bolted up right. Jocosa jumped in shock at the sight of her master in bed with her, and she covered her mouth with her hand. She whipped around and turned away from them as to not be disrespectful; she even covered her eyes with her hand.
"Oh! Forgive me! I am so sorry, my Lord," she ranted quickly. "I can come back later."
"N-No," answered Ignotus. "Stay. I shall...return to my chambers."
Dominique looked to him. His cheeks had flushed immediately upon awakening, and she watched him take in the situation. Dominique actually found it quite amusing; she knew Jocosa wouldn't tell anyone. The only matter at hand was Ignotus risking some humility, but she loved to see him fumble around helplessly like that. It was cute. From the bed, he quickly scanned the room for his clothes. Dominique helped him by pointing in the right direction of where his trousers and tunic had been disposed of the previous night.
He nodded and looked to Jocosa to see if he was in her line of sight. When he saw that she had turned, he threw back the covers of the bed. Dominique still watched him completely; she watched him quickly scramble to his clothes while completely bare. She quite enjoyed the view, even as he stumbled into his trousers and only had his tunic successfully on his frame after a few failed attempts at putting his arms in the wrong holes.
Without another moment's delay, he headed for the door. As he passed his servant, he cleared his throat and said awkwardly. "Good morning, Jocosa."
Jocosa bit her lip, trying to suppress a flush as her master passed her. "Good morning, my Lord."
Ignotus left the room without further ado and shut the door behind him. When he was gone, Jocosa turned back to face Dominique. Her mouth was open in surprise, her eyes wide and wild with the desire for gossip. She ran forward to Dominique and sat on the edge of her bed. "My Lady," she gasped quickly, "why did you not tell me?!"
Dominique giggled and took Jocosa's hand happily. "Because he asked it of me," she said in reply. "He hasn't told his mother, and it's taking time for him to figure out what to tell her. He asked me not to say anything, but Jocosa, you're my best friend! And I've been dying to tell you!"
"I understand your reasoning," she said kindly, nodding along and quickly moving past it. "And I had no idea! None at all! How long has this been going on?"
"Oh, not long," she answered truthfully. Their relationship really hadn't; the relationship that they had denied had been going on longer. "Just two days, but I've loved him for a long time now."
At that, Jocosa's expression turned curious. She tilted her head to the side. "Even while you were betrothed to Lord Conway?"
Dominique flushed with true embarrassment. "Even then."
Jocosa only let out a heavy exhale of air. Dominique added on quickly though, not wanting her friend to get the wrong idea. "But I was happy to marry Callum. I was. Ignotus was denying our feelings for one another, and I knew that if I couldn't have Ignotus, I would be with Callum. I was truly happy to marry Callum, but Callum is - "
"I understand," said Jocosa quickly as she saw Dominique enter a slightly panicked state. She could tell Dominique was beginning to feel embarrassed, guilty, and conflicted with her feelings, but Jocosa didn't want that. She understood her reasoning, so she didn't need to explain and get all worked up. She reached out and put her hand on Dominique's shoulder and gave her a reassuring look. "I understand, Dominique. You needn't explain."
"Thank you, Jocosa," said Dominique quietly with a humble smile.
"Besides," Jocosa said, piping up with enthusiasm, "now that I know, I can help you both with keeping your secret. I can help keep it from Lady Eirene if I must."
And she did. For the next three weeks, Dominique and Ignotus stole away to one another's chambers at night. Jocosa was helpful; she gave told them when it was safe to go to one another, when Eirene would be leaving or where she was so they could share their romantic moments together. When Dominique first decided to surprise Ignotus by coming to his chambers instead, Jocosa helped her to prepare for that. She helped dress her in her most beautiful dressing gown and fix her hair. Ignotus had returned the surprise when one night Dominique expected her bath to be ready for her in her chambers; instead, Ignotus had told Jocosa to not draw her a bath that night, for she was to bring Dominique to his chambers where they would share one.
One afternoon, Eirene had disappeared to her chambers and Dominique and Ignotus both felt like venturing out for the day, so they took the horses and rode down to the river. They followed along the path of it, just talking happily and enjoying the other's company. The brush and trees along the banks of the river finally cleared out, and they reached an open clearing where the water flowed into a small lake.
Dominique had never been down here before. She hadn't known there to be a lake. There certainly wasn't one in 2022 either; it must have dried up by then.
They abandoned their horses, leaving Caspian and Fay to graze and nip at the grass. Ignotus took her hand and led her to a dock that rested on the banks of the late. Tied to a post on the dock was a small wooden boat. With her hand in his, he guided her out onto the dock and together they stepped into the boat. She settled down comfortably on a seat in the boat, and Ignotus took the paddles. He rowed them out to the center of the lake, the sun beating down on their backs and necks on the lovely autumn afternoon.
She smiled as she watched him. She never thought she could be so easily fascinated just by simply watching someone, but Ignotus proved her wrong when it came to that. She loved watching him do the simplest things, such as what he was doing now: rowing them out to the middle of the lake. There was something wonderful about just watching him be. She assumed that was how the mind of a girl in love worked, for she had never known before she met him.
She found herself itching to ask him the very question that had been eating at her since the first night Ignotus had declared his feelings for her. In their tranquil silence with nothing but the churning of the water on the oars, she found herself asking him before she could stop herself.
"When will you tell your mother?"
Ignotus looked up, his jaw tight and his expression suddenly different at the mention of his mother. Dominique could tell she had perhaps ruined a perfectly wonderful moment, but she couldn't help it. It had been three weeks; what was he waiting for?
"Soon, my love," he reassured her and released the oars as he became satisfied with the boat's position. He moved across the small boat then to reach her. Kneeling in front of her as to steady himself as the boat rocked with gentle waves, he took her hands into his own and kissed them. "I am sorry for the delay. You must understand that I do not know what to do in my position, but you also must believe that I want nothing more than to be with you with my mother's approval."
"All you have to do is tell her you're in love," she said slowly and desperately. "Surely she will understand. You said yourself she loved your father dearly. I don't think she would intentionally keep her son from the woman he loves simply because I am not of noble blood."
"Yes, well," he said in a reply, swallowing the lump in his throat, "my mother is a complicated woman."
There was so much more to it than that, though. He believed Dominique to be right. Perhaps if he wasn't betrothed this would have been a much simpler matter; but that wasn't the case. Ignotus was betrothed to the daughter of his mother's lifelong friend. That complicated things, and when Edric Pellinor - the dearest friend Yrion and Eirene Peverell had ever known - was thrown into the matter, Ignotus believed Eirene would always do her best to please him.
In a way Ignotus wanted to tell Dominique all he knew. About his betrothal to Brigid. All of it, but he knew at this point that was an unnecessary evil. Dominique didn't need to know at this point if Ignotus believed he could talk to his mother under the right circumstances and ask her to call off the engagement. Finding out that Ignotus has been betrothed all this time would only hurt Dominique, and Ignotus didn't want that.
"1234 is complicated!" huffed Dominique in an exasperated tone, and she gave a hefty sigh, feeling her shoulders drop.
"My dear," said Ignotus encouragingly, and one of his hands went up to cup her neck and stroke her cheek. "It is all worth it, though. We can be together. You and I are only together because you were sent here. You must have been sent here for a reason. Believe that that reason is me, and remember that."
She nodded. He was right. She had never been one to believe in fate or destiny, but many a time had she run that moment in her flat through her head. Such a strange combination to result in time travel: her blood, the cloak, and the potion she finally remembered and deciphered to be Veritaserum through the process of elimination when she visualized the moment over and over. It didn't make sense that such a combination could send her back nearly 800 years, so she had believe that something had a greater plan for her, and that plan resided in 1234. She had long ago decided Ignotus was a part of that plan, and when she had been so desperate in the beginning to be a bystander and not meddle with time, she firmly believed now that she was vital to setting the events in motion for all the years to come.
They continued to have a good float on the lake, sharing kisses here and there and exchanging romantic declarations until Ignotus rose to his feet as he stood in the middle of the boat. Dominique did so as well, and with her weight shifted to one side, Ignotus stumbled on his feet, and in the next moment, he was falling into the water. He went with a yelp, hitting the water with a splash, and he broke the surface moments later and spat out a mouthful of water. His hair clung to his forehead, and he gave Dominique an exasperated look.
"You did that on purpose!" he declared as he waded in the water.
Dominique laughed at the sight of him, how adorable he was and how enjoyable it was to actually see him in a moment of clumsiness when he was also so agile, light, and talented on his feet. She kneeled down on the boat and leaned over the edge, folding her arms along the edge of the boat as she looked to him in the water.
"I did no such thing," she giggled.
He gave her a teasing smile, and before Dominique could move away - even as she caught the snickering smile from Ignotus - he grabbed her by the arms and hauled her into the water. She went in shouting, toppling in, the skirts of her dress fanning out in the water around them.
"Now that was on purpose!" she accused and she splashed him.
She couldn't be mad though. The water felt lovely on a day like this, and instead of climbing out and back into the boat, Ignotus swam over to her and wrapped his arms around her as they waded. She put hers around his neck and pushed a few locks of his raven hair away from his eyes. He smiled and said nothing more, drawing her in for a long kiss as the water moved between them.
Dominique didn't know how long the splashed about in the water together, but she knew evening was approaching when they finally climbed back into the boat and Ignotus rowed them to shore. When they climbed out, Dominique dried them both with a wave of her wand, and climbed atop the horses once more and rode back to the house. They left the horses in the stable once they reached their destination, and they emerged from the stables, hand in hand and in happy conversation.
He gave a chuckle at her as she skipped along beside him and he squeezed her hand. She thought they would continue on the conversation as they reached the Peverell home from leaving the stables, but that didn't happen. Ignotus stopped mid-stride and froze.
Dominique gave him a frown of confusion and watched him as he paled.
"What is it, Ignotus?" she asked gently, stroking his arm with her free hand.
That was when he jerked away from her, rejecting all physical contact as if her skin set his on fire. She blanched at his actions and prepared to prompt him again with what was the matter, but he spoke this time.
"Look to the house," he said, his voice so quiet it was almost inaudible.
Dominique did so, and she beamed at what she saw. She immediately recognized Dax, the horse that had been Cadmus' and was now Tyrion's, and Arrow lapping at a bowl of water. There were also two horses tied to the posts out front that she did not recognize.
"But that's Dax and Arrow!" she said excitedly. Did that mean Tyrion had returned to them to visit after being gone for so many months? Would she finally get to see that sweet boy again?
"Yes, said Ignotus slowly, "it is."
"They must have come to visit! So why aren't you happy?" she asked uneasily.
He swallowed a large lump in his throat and tried to manage a smile. He was sure it looked more like a grimace. "I am happy," he said, but he wasn't.
This was the last thing he needed. Sure, indeed he was happy that he would see his nephew again after so long, but with Tyrion's visit came others, and that meant complications for Ignotus.
Dominique shrugged it off and turned back to look at the horses she didn't recognize. "So if that's Tyrion's horse, the other two must belong to the Pellinors."
Ignotus choked. It looked as if it was finally time to reveal the very thing he had been hoping to abolish before he would have to reveal it. It appeared that he had been too slow in doing so; now came a difficult matter. Now came something that made him uneasy and made him hope that Dominique would still be by his side after it all.
"Yes, they belong to the Pellinors."
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