Chapter 24 : A Man On the Run From Death
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I had been looking forward to writing this chapter for a long time, so you'll have to inform me of how you liked it! :)
Again, if you wish you had gotten some Ignotus/Brigid, you should check out my other Deathly Hallows story, Hallowed. :)
perfect chapter image by Eponine @ TDA
Just as he had imagined, she looked as if she were in the worst pain imaginable, and it tore Ignotus apart to know he was the reason for it.
“You will never love me…?” she asked, shocked, and her eyes swimming with tears.
“No…” he finally whispered.
“I see…” she stuttered and slowly sank onto her bed, even though she didn’t.
“Brigid,” he said sternly and sympathetically. He went to sit next to her and he took her hand, an action that she may not have wished, but he found himself acting before he could think it through. “I am so sorry, but I believe it to be the truth.”
“Why?” she asked.
“Because…” he whispered, and he didn’t know if he should tell the truth. He thought on it; what did he really have to lose? He had lost almost everything. Perhaps Brigid would even appreciate the truth. So he pursed his lips and continued on. “Because I love another, and I have given her my whole heart. I have no love left for any other.”
“Oh…” whispered Brigid in reply.
“I am so sorry,” he apologized. “I – “
“It is Lady Dominique, is it not?” Brigid suddenly asked.
Ignotus blanched. He was taken aback to hear Brigid ask such a question, but then again, he told himself he shouldn’t be all that surprised. It would have been a miracle to Ignotus if he and Dominique had managed their relationship like they did for nearly a month and to have no one notice the difference. Ignotus had been surprised that his mother hadn’t figured it out; well, if she had, she never said anything or hinted to it. Edmund hadn’t known either; not until Ignotus told him at least, and then their love had also gone unnoticed to Jocosa. How their intimate relationship continued to go unnoticed to those around him, Ignotus did not know, but someone was bound to notice at some point.
And it seemed as if it finally had. By Brigid. Even though she had seen the two of them together the least. She had only met Dominique briefly before she left, and still Brigid had noticed the difference.
He realized there was no point in denying his love for Dominique to Brigid. He had already told her that he was in love with a woman, and seeing as Dominique was gone and he had nothing left to lose, there was absolutely no reason to keep anything from her now.
“Yes,” he admitted once he finally overcame his surprise. “I am in love with the Lady Dominique.”
“I should have known…” muttered Brigid under her breath. “The way you looked at her. The way she looked at you. I knew she was your ward; Tyrion had told me all about her, but I had only assumed that you had grown fond of her. Protective of her. Not that you loved her.”
“I am sorry,” Ignotus found himself apologizing again.
“Do not be sorry,” whispered Brigid. “It is I who should be sorry, and it is I who should apologize. And I do. I apologize profusely, my Lord. I am dreadfully sorry for the way I acted. Those things I said before. About wanting to be with you, wanting to be your wife. Forget I said them. That was inappropriate of me, and dreadfully embarrassing.”
“No,” he said sympathetically as he squeezed her hand. “Do not be sorry, and do not be embarrassed. You did not know. You were only speaking your mind, and I admire that. I used to think that we had to follow the rules of our parents and society, but I see the world differently now. The world is not meant for us to follow every rule, never changing. The world is meant for us to change and evolve. Every day. I know that now. It was Lady Dominique who showed me that.”
“You must love her dearly,” said Brigid as she listened to him talk. She had never heard him speak in such a whimsical and passionate way.
“I do,” answered Ignotus. “Very much, and it is my fault that she is gone now. My mistake of not informing you of my love for her, of letting our betrothal go on even after I fell in love with her. Now I will go on regretting it for the rest of my life, unable to atone for my sins.”
“Where has she gone, Ignotus?”
“Far from here,” was all he said.
“Ignotus, listen to me,” said Brigid sternly, and she turned to look at him. Even over her eyes swimming with tears, she gave him a serious look and shared her opinion with him even though she knew it would not benefit herself. “I would give anything to have a man like you love me. I would do anything to make that love work. If I loved a man, and he loved me in return, I would want him to find me. I would want him to ride to the ends of the earth to find me. I would want him to ride until heaven fell from the sky just to be with me. If you she really loves you, then all she needs is for you to find her and apologize. If she loves you, she will understand and she will know better than to let a man like you slip from her grasp. And if you really love her, you will do that. You will leave, you will ride, and you will find her. Love has a way of working itself out.”
“You do not understand,” moaned Ignotus, even though he loved Brigid’s words of encouragement. “Where she has gone, I cannot follow.”
“No, Ignotus,” said Brigid again, shaking her head as if he did not understand her. “If you really love each other, you will find her. Find a way to follow her. Find a way.”
“Find a way…” he muttered under his breath, thinking of what he could do to ‘find a way’ to see Dominique again.
It was so much more complicated than that, and he wished he could tell Brigid, but he had told Edmund, and that was story enough. Perhaps he would tell Brigid another time if he were to ever see her again, but he did not have the will nor the motivation to share his entire story of Death and Dominique’s time travel once more.
What could he do to find a way? He had no idea how to get to 2022. He only knew how Dominique made the travel due to her talking about it in passing; he never questioned it too much, as it was a touchy subject for her in the beginning, but as time passed, it mattered less and less how she came to him. The only important thing was that she was there. He knew she had come to 1234 with a mixture of her blood, a tear in the cloak, and a vial of a potion that was unknown to him. Without knowing what that potion was, it would be impossible to go to 2022, and perhaps, even if he did have the potion, his blood wouldn’t even work. Maybe it was only Dominique’s blood that allowed for time travel.
In his opinion, he felt absolutely lost on the matter. He had no ideas as to where he should go from here. Finding a way would require more thought, and it wouldn’t be as easy as Brigid made it out to be.
“I do not know how…” he whispered.
“Think, Ignotus,” encouraged Brigid. “I cannot help you any more than I have. I do not know the whole tale of Lady Dominique’s disappearance. I respect your privacy; however, if I do not know, I cannot help you. Only you know, so only you can help yourself. Only you.”
The tale. The simple word reminded Ignotus of the conversation he had had with Edmund the day before and the title Edmund had given to the Peverell brother’s story. The Tale of the Three Brothers. The tale that revolved around Death and his trickery. Then that made him think.
He remembered it as if it were happening right that very moment, the day when he rode out to the valley in anger and confronted Death. He remembered Death’s words. I am Death; I know all that has come to pass and all that shall ever be.
All that shall ever be.
Did that mean Death knew what would come of Dominique? What would come of him in the end? Ignotus believed that those words meant exactly that. He knew it would be reckless and foolish, but what other option did he have? He could seek Death out once more and demand to know Dominique’s fate, whether it be that she die in the 21st century or that she comes back to him. Death would know the answer.
And most certainly, if Ignotus did confront Death, he would be fighting for his life all the while he was in Death’s presence, but for Dominique, it would be worth it. If he discovered Dominique wouldn’t return to him, then he wouldn’t have much to fight for anyways.
Yes, he could do it. It would work as well. He could learn Dominique’s fate.
Ignotus felt his eyes widen with the epiphany, and he knew he couldn’t delay.
“I know what I must do,” he said quickly and rose from his spot beside Brigid.
Brigid let a smile reach her face as she saw that ambition and drive to find Dominique return to his eyes. She envied the woman he loved; she had only hoped to marry him and love him, but she was a woman, and love meant the most to her above all things. She only wanted to love a man and have him love her in return, so she knew she couldn’t be so rude and heartless as to deny a man his own love.
Before Ignotus made any further moved, he swiftly turned towards Brigid. He dropped to his knees in front of her and squeezed her hand.
“Thank you, my Lady,” he said breathlessly. “Thank you so much. I cannot express to you how much this means to me. Your kindness in this matter. Your encouragement.”
“Of course, Ignotus,” smiled Brigid, trying to hold back her tears as she realized that this moment was probably goodbye. She pulled one of her hands from his embrace and stroked his cheek. She knew it was inappropriate of her, but she was weak in that moment. She had loved his eyes, his smile, and everything about him since she was a young girl. He was her childhood sweetheart, she had always hoped for the best that one day he would be her husband, and now she was letting him go.
“You mean so much to me. More than you know,” she whispered, blinking back tears. “I can see how much you love her. I could not possibly keep you from such a love.”
“I only wish I could do something for you in return…” he said under his breath, his eyes sad as one of his thumbs went to wipe the tears from her cheek.
“There is nothing you can do for me,” she said. “Nothing over than live your life with a heart full of love. Live happily, and knowing that you are happy will be enough for me.”
“Brigid,” breathed Ignotus whimsically, “you are the kindest woman I know. I will live happily, and I shall have you to thank for it. Always.”
Brigid only nodded as her vision blurred from her tears. Seeing her cry broke Ignotus’ heart, so he found himself desperate for words of encouragement.
“I may have loved you,” he said in a soothing voice. He brushed her tears away with her fingers. “Truly. I may have loved you, Brigid, if it were not for Dominique. In another life, in another time, I may have loved you. I may have been happy with you; I may have been your husband as well.”
“In this life, or in any other life,” hiccupped Brigid, “I love you now, and I always shall.”
Ignotus winced. Her words were kind and loving, but they were painful to hear. He didn’t know what else to say, so at that, there was nothing more to say. “I must go,” he swallowed.
With her vision still clouded, she expected him to pull away and for that to be it, for him to fade from her life forever, but he gave her a parting gift. She gave a small jump and a gasp when she felt Ignotus press his lips to hers. She was surprised and amazed beyond belief, but she took a moment to take in that kiss. She knew why he was kissing her; her feelings for him were obvious, and as a thank you and a parting farewell, he was giving her a kiss to leave behind.
So she pushed aside all codes of conduct, of what was appropriate and what was not, and she focused only on him. Only on Ignotus and his kiss. It was better than she could have ever imagined, and while no one kiss would ever make up for the lifetime of kisses with him she was giving up, it was better than none at all.
Her hands escaped from his grasp in her lap, and they jumped up to his face. She placed them along his cheeks, loving the feel of his stubble against her palm. She stroked his cheeks, kissing him deeply. Before her response, Ignotus’ kiss had been very still, but as she held him and pulled him closer, he loosened up and welcomed her actions. They shared a mutual understanding for why they were kissing. A thank you from Ignotus and something for Brigid to hold on to. So he did his best to truly give her a kiss to hold on to. His hands moved to her hips, up her back, and into her hair. He ran his fingers through her long, brunette curls and breathed heavily against her lips.
When he pulled away, he pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead. “Thank you,” he said, attempting to catch his breath.
Brigid tried to open her mouth to speak, but no words came out. She clamped her mouth shut as to not choke on her cries, and so she nodded. Ignotus rose from his knees before her and turned to leave. He knew this was their goodbye; he would never see her again.
As his hand closed around the knob of her chambers, he gave her one parting farewell. “Find it in your heart to love another. Goodbye, Brigid.”
Then he left her. He closed the door behind him as he left, and then he was quickly moving down the hall. He couldn’t stop and waste any time. If he slowed down his pace, he would feel the pain and guilt for Brigid that he was currently forcing himself to not feel at all. If he didn’t focus on Dominique and what he had to do, then all those emotions would come rushing to him and he would never find the courage to truly leave Brigid behind.
He rushed down the stairs and moved through the dark house. It was evident that Lord Pellinor had retired to his chambers while Ignotus was with Brigid, and for that, Ignotus was slightly grateful. He didn’t wish to have to see Lord Pellinor’s sad expression or have to relay the events of what had gone down between he and Brigd in her chambers.
He moved swiftly to the kitchens where he took the bread that Edmund said he could freely take when he departed on his journey. Then he made for the door, where he took his cloak from his hanging spot and swung it over his shoulders. He picked up his belt with his sword and hilt and strapped it about his waist. Then he picked up the bag he had packed hours before and slung it across his shoulders.
He was already stepping over the threshold of the house when a small voice from within Edmund’s home startled him.
Ignotus gave a jump and whipped around. He strained his eyes to finally make out the silhouette of Jocosa at the end of the hall. Ignotus gave a sigh of relief and straightened up.
“Jocosa,” he said in greeting. “What are you doing at this hour?”
“I was just finishing the last of the cleaning in the sitting room, my Lord,” she said honestly. “I heard something from this hall and thought it best to check to see what it was.”
“Oh,” said Ignotus.
“Where are you going, my Lord?” asked Jocosa curiously. She knew it wasn’t her place to ask questions, but his bag suggested he was leaving for quite a duration of time and believed she had a right to know.
“Away, Jocosa,” said Ignotus in a weak voice.
“When shall I expect your return?” she asked loyally.
Ignotus bit his lip and thought hard on what to tell her. Finally, he knew what was best. “I shall not be returning, Jocosa. I am going away. Permanently. I – “
“But!” she gasped in surprise. “My Lord! Am I not to come with you? I – “
“No, Jocosa,” answered Ignotus. “You are to remain here.”
“I-I,” rambled Jocosa, and she knew she was making a fool of herself, but she couldn’t help it. “Did I do something wrong, my Lord? Have I not served you well? I do not understand. I – “
“No, Jocosa!” gasped Ignotus in shock, and he only then realized what Jocosa must have been thinking. He moved back into the home and approached Jocosa. He actually grasped her by the shoulders and rubbed them encouragingly. He felt Jocosa try to recoil from him, for she was surprised from such contact, but Ignotus didn’t let go. “I am sorry. Forgive me. I should have phrased that better. You have served me wonderfully, Jocosa, but no one can follow where I go. I must go alone.”
“But…” she began, but faltered. She knew it wasn’t appropriate of her to voice her fears of what she would do not if she were to no longer be employed by Ignotus. How would she earn her living? Where would she live? What would she do? She felt panic wash over her, but she was thankful when Ignotus continued to speak.
“You have been the best servant one could have hoped for. That is why I have left a large portion of my family’s fortune with you and with Edmund. My money is yours, and I may have no home to offer you, but you may make a home here at Edmund’s if you like. He has already agreed. You are no longer my servant, Jocosa. I relieve you of your position.”
Jocosa was speechless. A portion of his family’s fortune? She had never heard such a thing. She had never heard of a servant being left her master’s fortune. Or offered a home with a man of a higher class. She was overwhelmed, and while she would truly miss serving Ignotus, she was beyond thrilled.
“Oh, thank you!” she gasped. “Thank you, my Lord!”
“You are more than welcome, Jocosa,” Ignotus said kindly.
“But Lord Strathclyde,” she said in concern about living with Edmund, “he – “
“Is perfectly happy to offer you a home,” said a third voice.
Both Ignotus and Jocosa gave a start and turned to the voice. Edmund stood in the doorway between the hallway and the library, leaning against the frame with his arms folded across his chest. He straightened and approached them.
“Jocosa,” he began, “Ignotus and I have already had this discussion. The portion of his family’s fortune is for you and I to share, and you shall continue to live with me. Not as my servant, not as anyone’s servant. But a free woman. If you so desire.”
“I do very much desire it,” she whispered.
“Then there is nothing more to discuss. That settles it,” smiled Edmund.
“Oh, thank you, my Lord!” beamed Jocosa.
“You may call me Edmund now,” he said in correction to her. “I am not a lord. It may have been demanded of you to call me Lord while you were Ignotus’ servant, but you are not his servant anymore. I am not a lord. Just Edmund now.”
“Oh,” said Jocosa with a blush. “Thank you…Edmund.”
Edmund smiled at her before turning back to face Ignotus. “Now go, my friend,” he encouraged. “I see a fire and desire in your eyes that was not there before. You seem to know how to find her.”
“I hope,” said Ignotus with a nod. “I only hope with will work.”
“Then go,” said Edmund. “Go, find her, and live well, my friend. And perhaps, one day, you and I shall meet again.”
“I do not doubt it,” said Ignotus. He knew he and Edmund would cross paths again one day.
The two friends embraced, and with that Ignotus left. He mounted Caspian and rode fast. He rode swiftly through the dark night, across the plains and through the forest he had ridden through too many times for comfort. He rode for one purpose and for one destination. To the valley to speak to Death.
The sun was rising when he finally reached the valley, and Ignotus gave a start to see Death already waiting for him. The chilling creature hovered over the valley, its black cloak swaying with the wind, its bony fingers laced together in patience.
Caspian neighed in protest at the sight of it and tried to back away, to run in the other direction. It was evident that Caspian remembered their last encounter with Death as well as he did. Ignotus patted his horse’s neck to calm him down, and uneasily, Ignotus dismounted and approached the edge of the valley with his chest puffed out in bravery.
“Ignotus,” said Death in its chilling voice. “I have long been expecting you. I knew you were coming.”
“If you knew I was coming,” he said with an unwavering voice, “then you know what it is I seek.”
“Indeed,” answered Death, “information on your beloved, but tell me, Ignotus, why should I inform you?”
Ignotus grit his teeth and set his jaw in a tight line. He did his best to keep his temper with Death. He had seen Death’s reaction when Ignotus acted out of anger towards him. Death had tried to take his life as a result, and Ignotus would much rather not fight for his life another time. He had to keep control of his temper.
“Because,” said Ignotus in reply. “You have taken everything from me. My brothers, my home, and now my mother. You owe me this much.”
“I owe you nothing, Ignotus Peverell!” snarled Death, and Ignotus recoiled in fear. It seemed that even speaking with a calm and collected tone wouldn’t be enough to control Death’s next attempt on his life. “Nothing! I spared your life when I gave you that cloak, you ungrateful swine! That was payment enough! Now you come to me and talk as if I owe you a favor when it is your life that you owe me every second you continue to breathe!”
“You know when my life ends!” declared Ignotus. He hadn’t analyzed Death’s words so carefully before, but after sitting with Brigid and thinking on those words, he did know. Now he knew. He just hadn’t realized it. If Death knew all that would ever come to pass, then did Death know when he would die? If Death truly knew, then his efforts were constantly for naught until the right moment. “You said yourself you know all that shall ever come to pass! If this is so, then you know when I shall die. Your efforts are wasted if not at the right moment.”
“Your death is unknown to me,” said Death. “The date was fixed. You were to die April 18, 1281 before you met me. Then we crossed paths at this very spot six months ago. Since that moment, the date of your death has faded from my knowledge. You and your brothers were supposed to travel the long route home; you were never supposed to meet me. You changed history when you decided to take the short cut through this valley. That is what happens when humans meet me; their history changes. Forever.”
“So you know not when I will die?” asked Ignotus, slightly fearful. He didn’t like the answer. He liked it better when his death date would have been April 18, 1281.
“Exactly,” answered Death. “I do not know when you will die. So you see, Ignotus, my efforts are not wasted at all. They are only wasted each time I fail, and I promise you this, boy, I shall not continue to fail!”
“You will fail,” snarled Ignotus. “You will fail indeed! You will fail until you tell me the fate of my beloved! Without the knowledge of her fate, I will always strive to live and to best you and watch you fail! So tell me!”
“And what will you do with the knowledge of her fate?”
“If she returns to me, I will always and forever fight against you to keep my life,” said Ignotus in a cool voice. “However, if she does not return to me and I am to never see her again, I shall let you take my life. Right here. Right now.”
“What a proposition, Ignotus,” chuckled. “What a proposition.”
“What say you to it?”
“I agree to your proposition,” said Death. “However, it is truly unfortunate for me that Dominique Weasley dies in the year 1291.”
“She dies in the year 1291?” asked Ignotus. “What am I supposed to make of that?!”
He truly didn’t know what he was supposed to make of that. What did that mean? Did that mean that Dominique had a mishap when she left him and travelled to the wrong year? What if she only jumped forward 50 years and was to die soon? Or did it mean that she travelled back to 2022 where she belonged and would then decide to return to him? Did it mean that she would return and live out her life as an old woman till the year 1291? With that simple piece of information, so many things were possible. Ignotus didn’t know what to believe.
“Make of it what you will,” chuckled Death.
“You must tell me more than that!” demanded Ignotus.
Death only laughed. “I shall tell you no more. Only that. Dominique Weasley dies in 1291.”
“Tell me!” roared Ignotus.
Death continued to laugh, the noise cold and cackling to Ignotus’ ears. “So much like me you are, Ignotus. Determined, cruel when you wish, and demanding.”
“I am not like you…” snarled Ignotus.
“No matter how much you wish to deny it, my friend, you are like me. Very much.”
“Do not call me your friend!” shouted Ignotus. He hated the sound of that. He would not allow Death to call him such a thing.
“Very well,” said Death. “But I shall tell you nothing more."
As Death spoke, his hands whipped out from their position against his frame and formed dark, thick, heavy clouds in the morning sky. The sky that was so peaceful with splashes of oranges and purples with the rising sun turned a desolate grey, and claps of thunder followed. Lightning struck the ground by his feet, and Ignotus jumped. He ran to Caspian, who was stamping his hooves impatiently into the ground and neighing in desperation to leave.
Ignotus mounted Caspian, desperate to leave as he realized Death was beginning his attempts on his life. He fumbled with his bag attached to his saddle, and he pulled out the Invisibility Cloak. He whipped it over his shoulders, fading from Death's view.
Even as they rode off, invisible to Death and his attempts, Death still continued to strike the ground with lightning, his voice booming throughout the field, his threat and his warning searing fear onto Ignotus' heart.
"Your beloved dies in 1291, make of it what you will, and run, Ignotus Peverell. Run because your very life depends on it. Run because I will never give up my hunt for your life! Run because you try my patience and yet I admire your efforts! Run, and perhaps, one day – when I succeed – for all your effort, I shall welcome you as my equal.”
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