Title: Speechless
Time Period: July 18, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: For the second time in her life, Luna is removed from her position at Eilean Donan.

She doesn’t like it.

Waking up in the cold, fire out, all alone in the darkness of predawn. The wildcat is gone.

Coverlet and sheet thrown back, Luna is quick to find a robe to cover her body; not the bulky one that’s sure to provide warmth but a garment more sheer, one that promises the viewer a hint of treasure that lies within its folds. Though she somewhat expected it, it still comes as a surprise that Duncan hasn’t even attempted to use his key. The thought that he might still be angry with her tugs at her heartstrings and forms a lump in the back of her throat that’s too hard to swallow. So she braves the shadows of the castle to find him, not wanting to spend another passing moment away.

The trail to Duncan’s bedroom, a place she doesn’t like to venture because of the reminder that he was once married, is memorized in both step on cold flooring and a graze of fingertips along the stone walls. His door isn’t locked, it never is, which gives her the impression that he might be waiting for her. When she enters, it’s with a completely silent step of her bare feet. A ghost would make more noise than Luna’s corporeal form, her breath might be held for all the sound she doesn’t make.

At the side of the bed, a silky wrap flutters to the floor in a heap. Her shadow passes over the sleeping man, his hand is lifted and like a snake, she slithers into the space beside him, wrapping herself in the comfort of not only his bedding but his body.

Who knows what went on behind that ponderous brow of his? Women guess at the thoughts of men, and invariably read too much, or expect too little, and either way they tend to condemn or forgive in a mixture. If he is angry, if he means to neglect her, then at least he is thinking of her. If he was just tired, seeking rest as quickly as he could, then he is paying her too little mind. There is no winning - and certainly not when you go to bed angry.

But wakefulness brings with it a momentary amnesia, and thus the potential for a moratorium on conflict. Of course, this in and of itself has its a danger, the selfsame danger Luna risks by entering this room. What will he say upon waking? What will he forget, and stretching how far back?

He is lucky. He speaks in the proper order.

“Luna-” he mumbles, as she presses against him and stirs him from a shallow slumber, “-my love.”

"Aye," she whispers, her heart swelling to the point where it just might burst, a sharp contrast to the dull ache of uncertainty when wondering if he was waiting for her. "I'm so sorry, my Duncan, I shouldn't have— " Cutting herself off, she turns in his arms and presses her lips to his. There are too many things she shouldn't have done that warranted his anger, she knows. She also knows that if she is to be happy with him, there are times that he will hear her mind.

It lingers, that kiss, she doesn't care that his breath might still be sleepy instead of fresh. She's gotten past things of that nature long ago. When she pulls back, her lips still brush his with every syllable. "I don't like waking in the cold," she murmurs, hands exploring the span of his chest and shoulders, "next time you'll come to my bed, regardless of what I scream."

There are a host of scents which, lacking the antiseptic rigors of the past era, have regained their distinctive character. No longer can they be so easily erased by balms and unctions - they are a sign of presence, even identity. Even a bad smell is his smell. And in lieu of replacement, there is less basis for comparison, and no grounds for expectation. No man is born smelling of roses, after all.

But women- women always manage to smell sweet, given the means. Or so Duncan has found. She kisses, he kisses back, they kiss. His arms draw her against his chest and he inhales the smell of her hair, along with it the pheromones that must play their part in making him feel as he does.

“Is that a command?” he inquires, voice hoarse with waking.

Her teeth flash in the darkness, a ready smile in the wake of his apparent forgiveness for her trespass on his domain. Not his bedroom, but the areas of his life that it's been deemed that she has no place to tread. Matters of Dornie. "Aye, 'tis," she whispers, not wishing to stir any of the other denizens in Duncan's area of the castle. This isn't her room, so very far from the family.

Her lips meet the skin over his collarbone briefly before she curls against him to gain a bit more of the security he provides. "It's an order of the utmost importance," she continues, her tone a bit graver than before. "I don't wish to be the woman of your nightmares, only the one of dreams. So I can't bear the thought of you being angry with me when you lay your head to rest."

“It’s my waking hours that concern me more,” Duncan says, “dreams are past my power.” He’s made this point before. He says it differently now, however, though the difference is hard to name.

“But that only means having you near when I wake is the real matter,” he accedes, “it gives us more moments together.”

His topmost hand reacquaints itself with her curves and planes, his touch almost talismanic.

“Do you find this difficult? Our- circumstance. I know it is more- more than either of us would have expected. But-” hesitation, not so common for him, especially of this sort. Almost bashful. Actually uncertain as opposed to pensive or preparatory.

“I’d know your mind.”

As Duncan’s fingers trace along her bare skin, Luna’s body undulates against his in the same slow procession. On his second pass, he can feel the goose flesh that appeared in the wake of his initial touch, a reaction in her that’s not often caused in the warmth of summer nights.

She can’t just give him a one word answer. It’s like offering a starving man only a bite of salad when what he desires is the buffet he can see just beyond. It’s just as difficult, though, for Luna to sort through the clouds in her mind when Duncan seems so keen to cause them. “I do,” she utters after a length of time has gone by, “I don’t relish being called a whore. I never have.”

He knows this.

“But,” she continues with the same breath, “this is more than I ever could have asked for, given my circumstance when you first picked me.” It’s insinuating that she didn’t have a choice in the matter, opposite what she claimed in the very beginning but by the same token, who in Dornie has ever refused Duncan Rowntree? “Although, now that I’ve grown accustomed to it, my Duncan, it’s much less than what I want.”

"That word-" Duncan says, gruffness of recent waking compounds with his own displeasure at the term, and along with it a certain guilt - recalling his scuffle with Edmund adds to his discomfort.

But she is there to smooth away all discomfort. Or so her body seems to tell his own. He draws it closer, so he can hear it better, a communication via caress.

"Only a fool would see a butterfly and curse it as a worm."

He has met refusal before. He would not say that such refusals were wise. But while she has never outright refused him, she never fell over herself to give him what she thought he wanted. Which was perfect, as few can so quickly discern what Duncan desires. She did so much better, taking time to become it herself.

"And what do you want?"

"I want more than just a place in your employ, my love," as a whore, Luna is the one lowering herself to the rank of scullery maid or below. The very thing she was afraid of before he moved her to the castle, one of the things she said she wouldn't stand for. "I was wounded the night you fought with your brother and me," not Aislinn, "but not simply because of that word."

Her lips, tongue, and a hint of teeth caress his neck as his hands continue to roam. They stop only once she's reached his earlobe where she continues to whisper, as much as she can when he doesn't cause a moan of pleasure. "Your brother went to his wife to comfort her when she was disparaged, you dismissed me to my room." She pulls back from his touch and body in order to concentrate properly, to discourage the curtain of lust which stops clear thought. "My love for you isn't less and doesn't deserve to be treated as such."

A judicious retreat, and even then successful only because of the importance of the topic. Less serious concerns and her escape would be taken as part of the game, in which a feigned escape serves only to make him chase her, catch her. Even now, he doesn't let her get away entirely. His hand slips into her hair, clasping her head. Possessive, without being quite as provocative.

"Do not compare yourself to her," Duncan says, "never forget how she came to us. She was a gift, given-" he leans in for a kiss, "-you are a blessing, bestowed."

Luna doesn't deny Duncan such a small favor, the fingers in her hair feel a slight pressure as she leans into them for just enough time to allow the soldier to know they are welcome. Just as before, the kiss is held, this time her hands slipping up into his short cropped hair instead of down his chest. The mistress' lips part enough to accept his tongue into her mouth before she breaks away again.

"If I'm such a blessing, then value me always and not just in private or locked behind a door." Her tone isn't scolding but there is a slight plea to her words. "I want you to be proud to have me on your arm, in front of everyone." In front of his family, is what she really means.

A mistress you kiss. A whore you do not. But what is a woman you take upon your arm. before God, your father and everyone? A mistress stays hidden. A whore, moreso. A woman on your arm must be your wife, or on her way. She must be suitable if he is to give suit.

"Then I ought speak with your father," Duncan says, with the tone that settles matters.

Luna's eyebrows tilt down at the inner edges and then slide into a deep furrow as her lips form the downward curl of a pout. Duncan needs to speak to her father, why? "Are you turning me out for this?" Panic has set in by the high pitch in her voice, unconcerned of who it make disturb. Her topmost hand begins to tremble against his scalp before she pulls it away and covers her mouth as if trying to keep herself from becoming ill.

"I knew I was cursed, it's the scars, isn't it?"

"Cursed?" Duncan echoes. He is too awake by now to account for this as simple confusion. What is Luna talking about?

"I'm not turning you out, my love. I'm going to offer you my suit," he says this with remarkable delicacy and care - he can feel her upset, the displeasure that moves her body in unwelcome ways. "I must have your father's consent before I publicly pursue you."

The hand stays over her mouth but Luna's eyes widen to the size of tea saucers. The breath rushes out of her and she doesn't suck in another for at least two of his. Even then it's expelled in another gasp, or it could be a sob. "Duncan," she manages, the hush returning along with a tremor that can only be a prelude to tears. Hopefully he's made her happy and not hysterical. "Your suit? You're sure?" He can see her smile appear in the dark blue hues, when her hand is lifted away again.

Then she just doesn't care who in the castle hears. "Duncan," she says again snaking her arms around his waist and hugging her body tightly to his form. "I think for the first time in my life, I might be speechless."

He doesn't answer those questions. Duncan is not a man who makes idle promises, nor commits his hand idly. Both by hands and promises, he's bound to her. She to him, in turn, as his hands take her and he murmurs a promise:

"You won't need words. Fret not."

His kiss, his grip, then he himself assures his word is kept.