Title: Captivate 2
Background: This story is based on The Patriot. I've played with Margaret's age since she is the "woman of the house" since her mother, Elizabeth, died of pneumonia. In this story, Margaret is 17. This takes place in 1776, two years after her older brother, Gabriel, has gone off to war.
Summary: Tavington and Margaret have a fateful first meeting. What happens when he decides to take his anger out on the Ghost's daughter?
Warning: This is going to be an angsty dark fic. Although, Tavington is attractive, he is not a nice man.
Margaret furiously kneaded yet another batch of biscuit dough. She'd spent the better part of the afternoon preparing food for the Green Dragoons. Margaret tried not to dwell the fact that she was being forced to entertain British troops or the fact that this much food would have fed them for at least two months.
Most of the day had been spent on preparations. On Tavington's orders, the men had wrung the necks of ten of their chickens. Samuel and Susan had glumly agreed to pluck their feathers. Margaret had asked Thomas to make a large fire in the back field and place the spit over it so they could make roasted chicken for the soldiers. She'd set Samuel the task of turning the spit. Susan and Matthew had gone out to the barn and brought back some potatoes which Margaret had boiled. It was simple fare but Margaret knew the soldiers would find no complaint with it after subsisting on their meager rations for months.
At least they only had to feed the Dragoons. Lieutenant Bradley and his men had departed nearly an hour ago with the wounded English soldiers. He'd looked at her sadly before he mounted his horse and rode off. Margaret only wished Tavington had the decency to be shamed by his actions. But he wasn't the least bit troubled. In fact, the man was now sitting on their front porch as though he were lord of the manor, drinking a mug of ale liberated from her father's private stores.
Ben had been alarmed by Tavington's interest in her and asked her to keep away from him. Not that Margaret had any desire to spend one more moment in the company of that odious man. She was grateful to get away from his watchful eyes and predatory interest. Ben had questioned her at length about Tavington's conversation and she'd omitted the part when he attempted to bargain with her for her brother's life.
At the thought of Gabriel, her heart sank in her chest. Margaret peered out the window once more and saw her brother who was being guarded by two men. Gabriel was lashed to the tree by a thick rope and then men had their pistols trained on him, as if he were about to escape any moment. Margaret wished they could free him but that was impossible with all the Dragoons milling about the property. She fervently hoped that her father had a plan. She knew that he wasn't just going to sit back and let Gabriel hang.
The Martins didn't have enough tableware to feed such a large group of people, so only the officers would be at the table in the dining room. The enlisted men would eat outside, using their own knives and their hands, if need be. Susan set the table while Margaret placed the serving dishes on the table. The children would be eating in the sitting room at a table of their own, as was the custom during the infrequent parties their parents had held.
Margaret stepped out onto the porch. Colonel Tavington and her father were engaging in chillingly polite social conversation about the weather and other matters of small importance. They were seated across from one another in rocking chairs her grandfather had made. Margaret's lips twitched when she imagined Tavington sitting on one her father had made. Captain Borden and Lieutenant Marshall were seated on the porch swing. They were silently observing the battle of wits and wills going on between the other men.
"Dinner is served," Margaret announced, speaking directly to her father. She turned to leave when Tavington's voice forestalled her.
"Allow me to escort you," he said, offering her his arm.
Ben's eyes blazed but he said nothing.
Margaret couldn't refuse without appearing churlish, so she reluctantly took the proffered arm. "Thank you, Colonel Tavington," she murmured politely in a tone that was anything but.
Tavington was a tall, imposing man and Margaret was more than a little intimidated by him. She'd never allow him to see that, of course. So, Margaret held her head high and walked beside him to the dining room. Her father and the other two officers followed them inside.
Colonel Tavington grinned in response, correctly interpreting her thoughts. "I could think of quite a few ways I'd like you to 'thank me' that don't involve mere words," he murmured outrageously.
While Margaret was an innocent well-bred young lady, she did understand what Tavington was insinuating even if she didn't understand the mechanics of it. She gritted her teeth and clenched her hand to keep from slapping him as he so richly deserved. Instead of gasping in outrage as he expected her to do, she smiled at him and spoke with honeyed venom. "I believe actions speak louder than words as well, Colonel Tavington, " she whispered. "Give me your gun and I'll show you."
Tavington laughed delightedly. "You really aren't as dull as the rest of your countrymen."
Ben and the other two officers looked at them curiously but said nothing.
Margaret scowled, her ire rising by the minute. She intended to insult him but she merely amused him. "You are," she mumbled.
"I'll have to keep my wits about me." Tavington's cool blue eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth
For just a moment, Margaret was struck by his cruel beauty. It was really a pity he was so insufferable.
The colonel pulled out a chair for her. "Why don't you sit beside me?" It wasn't a request.
"Margaret will be having dinner in the sitting room with the rest of the *children*," Benjamin replied, emphasizing her age. He sat down at his seat at the head of the table.
Tavington gritted his teeth. He'd been trying to get the girl alone for hours. Unfortunately, Martin had dogged his steps like one of Cornwallis' bloody hounds and he hadn't been able to get anywhere near her.
Margaret released a pent-up breath and sent her father a grateful smile. "Enjoy your dinner," she said as she moved to the doorway.
"Nonsense. There is more than enough room at this table," Tavington said, gesturing to the empty chairs. "I'm sure my men don't mind," he skewered them with a look and they hastily nodded. "That's settled then." He gestured to the chair he was still holding out.
Once again, there was no polite way to refuse. Margaret smothered her anger and offered him a smile. "I believe I will join you for dinner but I'd prefer to sit by my father." She walked down to other end of the table and sat beside Benjamin who was beaming at her, impressed by her quick wit.
Tavington resolutely sat down at the opposite side of the table, narrowing his eyes as he noticed the by-play between the two Martins. The girl was really too clever for her own good. It was considered rude to speak to someone on the other end of the table because one is obliged to raise one's voice to unacceptable level to do so. Therefore, Tavington was forced to have a chat with Captain Borden instead.
Tavington caught Margaret's eye during the meal and surveyed her with a deliberately hungry expression. Her cheeks filled with the most delightful rose color before she hastily looked away. She was, indeed, elusive prey but Tavington was an expert hunter.
Margaret couldn't run from him forever.
After the meal was finished, Margaret took a plate out to Gabriel. She had stored back the choicest tidbits for her brother and kept them warm by the hearth. Margaret knew he wouldn't' be allowed to use utensils, lest he make them into makeshift weapons, so she had taken the liberty of cutting everything up into bite-sized portions.
She gathered up a dinner napkin and a mug of the apple cider Gabriel favored as well.
Margaret exited the house via the back door and deliberately averted her eyes from the blood-soaked bodies of the Continental soldiers. She still couldn't believe that Tavington ordered the massacre on wounded, unarmed men. She passed by the British soldiers who were lounging on their back porch. They watched her with lustful eyes but made no move to accost her. Margaret shivered involuntarily as she walked by them.
She approached the English soldiers who were guarding her brother cautiously They were both around Gabriel's age. One of them was fair with light blue eyes. The other had dark hair and eyes.
Gabriel looked at her hopefully but said nothing.
The dark one warily lowered his weapon. "State your business."
"I've brought him some supper," Margaret answered, lifting the plate.
The blond one came forward to inspect the plate and she handed it to him. "I haven't brought any utensils with me," she said stiffly.
The blond nodded and handed the plate back to her. "Carry on."
"Aren't you going to untie him?" Margaret asked.
Gabriel was tied to the tree by a length of rope around his bound wrists.
"He's a prisoner, miss," the dark soldier replied. "You can feed it to him."
Margaret looked at Gabriel sadly and mouthed. "I'm sorry."
Gabriel merely sat down beside the tree and motioned for her to join him.
It bothered her to see him like this. The Gabriel she knew would have argued for his temporary release or attempted to bargain with them. He had changed a great deal since the war began. The war had forced Gabriel into adulthood and beyond. His eyes held all the sadness of someone twice his age.
The soldiers backed away, giving them a modicum of privacy and she sat down beside him and placed the plate on her lap. Margaret held up the cider to his mouth and Gabriel took a large sip.
"My favorite," he said as she brought the mug away. "You remembered."
"Of course I did," she said, her heart in her eyes.
"Thank you, Maggie," he said hoarsely, emotion welling in his throat.
She gave him a bittersweet smile at the sound of her childhood name. "I'm so sorry, Gabriel" she murmured.
Gabriel sighed, trying to shake off the weight of the fear that gripped him. "It's my own fault, I suppose. Didn't father warn me about what would happen if ran off and played at being soldier?" His voice wavered when he spoke.
"Do you regret it?" Margaret asked, bringing a bite of chicken to his lips.
Gabriel accepted the meat and swallowed it, using the time to gather his composure. He thought carefully before he answered. "Dying?" he asked rhetorically. "I'll wholeheartedly regret that," he replied with gallows humor. "But not the rest of it," he said, his eyes shining with pride. "I had to do this, Margaret."
Margaret reached out and squeezed his hand. "I'm glad you don't have many regrets." Her eyes filled with tears. "I love you, Gabriel."
"Well, isn't this a touching little tableau," Tavington drawled.
Margaret flinched as she heard that hated voice. She reluctantly released Gabriel's hand.
"And since when," Colonel Tavington asked as he strolled up to the soldiers, his ire rising, "do we permit prisoners to have guests?" His men nearly quivered in their boots. They tried to formulate a response but he didn't give the men a chance to respond. "Get out of my sight! I'll decide what to do with you two when we get back to camp."
Then men scurried away, eager to do his bidding.
"And find replacements for yourselves!" he shouted.
They each fired off a "yes, sir" before they ran off.
Colonel Tavington towered over Margaret and Gabriel. "And what were we bringing to our dear brother?" he asked with wicked humor. Tavington snatched the plate from her lap and sneered down at Gabriel. "Ah, she cuts up your food for you," Tavington taunted. He deliberately tipped the plate, letting Gabriel's dinner splatter on the ground. "How clumsy of me."
"You heard what my father said, he isn't a spy! He was carrying dispatches in his uniform with a marked case," Margaret contradicted with forced civility.
Tavington's grin chilled her to the bone but he didn't address her comment. Instead, he turned his attention to her brother. "What is your name?" he asked Gabriel tightly.
"Gabriel Martin, sir," her brother replied, moving a bit closer to his sister to shield her with his body.
"I see. Well, your sister and I had the most interesting conversation earlier today. Isn't that so Miss Martin?"
Margaret narrowed her eyes warily. "I didn't find it particularly interesting."
Amusement glistened in his eyes but he didn't even crack a smile. "If I recall correctly, you never did answer my question," Tavington continued deliberately.
Margaret knew exactly what he was referring to. She couldn't believe he was intent on pursuing her right in front of a male relation. "I'm afraid I don't remember exactly what you're referring to," she fibbed, hoping to dissuade him.
"Really?" he asked, raising one raven brow. "I'd be delighted to give you a reminder." Tavington reached down and seized her elbow, hauling her up.
Margaret struggled in his grasp. "Unhand me this instant!"
"Let her go!" Gabriel shouted, struggling to his feet.
Tavington cooly withdrew his pistol, aiming between her brother's eyes. "If you wish to meet your maker sooner rather than later, I'd be happy to oblige you, boy."
"Please sit down, Gabriel. He isn't going to hurt me," Margaret pleaded, anxiously looking between the two men.
Tavington smirked at the statement. Indeed, he didn't intend to harm her. What he was planning would be pleasurable for both of them.
Two replacement soldiers came running up behind Tavington. They, too, withdrew their weapons.
"Gabriel!" Margaret said, her voice rising with panic.
Gabriel's eyes simmered with growing hatred. He nonchalantly rested back against the tree, deliberately unconcerned. He didn't take his eyes off Tavington for a minute. In turn, the colonel's weapon followed his progress down to the ground.
"Watch him!" Tavington ordered tersely before he turned on his heel, pulling Margaret behind him.
For her brother's sake, Margaret tolerated this indignity. The crowd of soldiers who had gathered to see the spectacle, parted before Colonel Tavington as if he were some sort of holy man. He led her up the stairs of the back porch and pushed her inside.
Once the back door closed behind them, she tried to pull away from me "Let go of me this instant!" Margaret hissed.
Instead of releasing her, he pulled her inexorably closer - fitting her against his body. "Why should I?" he asked silkily.
"Because I asked you to!" Margaret said indignantly, shoving at his chest. At this moment she wished she knew some expletives to spout at him.
Tavington's eyes shut momentarily at delicious sensations her struggles were causing. He cleared his throat before he spoke. "Ah, well, I don't always obey orders." His lips curved into a sensual smile. "Perhaps you should make it worth my while."
Margaret ceased her movements. "Are you certain?" she asked, a glint of malicious mischief in her eyes.
His eyes fastened on her mouth. "Quite." Tavington swooped in to taste her lips.
Margaret simultaneously brought her right foot down on his left. Hard.
"Bloody hell!" Tavington gasped, letting go of her in his shock. He grabbed onto the wall to catch his balance. Then, he turned to her, his expression thunderous. "Why you little-"
Margaret didn't stick around to hear the rest. She ran up the back stairs for all she was worth. She began to wonder if angering a man such as Tavington was wise.
The colonel loped up the stairs behind her. "Come here!" Even injured, he was faster than she was. Tavington easily caught her as she reached top stair. He caught her up in his arms and pushed her against the far wall.
Margaret was breathing hard from both exertion and fear. "Must you bully everyone?"
Tavington's eyes were blazing with a curious mixture of lust and vexation. This girl got under his skin. He wasn't quite sure what it was about her that bothered him so. The way she flouted his authority? Her beauty? Perhaps it was because she wanted nothing to do with him. The camp followers were eager for his coin and the chance to sleep in an officer's tent. The simpering society misses at home were in search of a title, even if belonged to a penniless rakehell like himself. Whatever it was, Margaret Martin was a woman unlike any he'd ever known and, although he had no intention of forming any attachment her, he fully intended to enjoy her while he could.
"Yes," he finally answered. "Why not? When I have power over everything I see?" To prove it, he brought one hand to the trembling expanse of her belly, just below her breasts. She was covered in a thin summer-weight gown and the heat of his hand was discernable through the fabric.
"No," Margaret contested quietly, deliberately ignoring his hand. "What you have is the illusion of power. That's what the British have never understood about us. You may be able to control some of our actions and our circumstances but you cannot control our minds. Brute force only reinforces our beliefs. It is the same with you, Colonel Tavington," she explained. "It would not be wise to push my family too far. You might not live to regret it," she said earnestly.
"Are you threatening me?" Tavington asked, dumbfounded.
"No, I'm merely giving you some advice," Margaret said with a sigh.
"If I were you, I'd take her up on it," Ben said carefully. He was standing against the other wall.
Margaret had never seen him so angry. His eyes were boiling with suppressed rage. And, while his stance was casual, she had the impression of a barely leashed animal.
"Mr. Martin," Tavington called, removing his hand from her person and turning slightly. "Is there something you wanted?"
Margaret hastily moved away from the soldier.
"No, but I know there's something *you* want," Ben returned.
Tavington gritted his teeth. The man had the most annoying habit of turning up when one least expected it. If he didn't know better, he'd swear he was a bloody ghost. Tavington knew he couldn't press his advantage with the Martin girl under the nose of her father. He doubted Cornwallis would go along with the seducing of young virgins in homes that had "offered" to quarter British troops. His superior was surprisingly dainty when it came to war and insisted on playing the gentleman even if it cost him victory. Tavington had no such scruples but he did have a strong desire to keep his current rank.
"I just wanted to wish you daughter a good night's rest," Tavington said smoothly, bowing slightly to Margaret. "Sleep well, Miss Martin."
Margaret breathed a sigh of relief. "Goodnight, Colonel Tavington."
"Mr. Martin," Tavington said with a sneer as he passed the man. He paused a moment and looked back at Margaret with a sinful smile as he always did when he had an especially awful idea. "I'm loathe to impose on you anymore, Miss Martin, but I will need your bedroom tonight. Unfortunately, my men have already commandeered the children's rooms." The children were all sleeping in the sitting room with blankets. "You may have my room," Ben offered, watching the man carefully.
"How *kind* of you to offer," Tavington drawled. "But I really need hers." If Margaret was forced to sleep downstairs, he could arrange another late night visit which would hopefully have a better outcome. Besides, he rather liked the idea of being alone in her room with her things.
"Fine," Ben snapped, his control slipping a bit. "Margaret may stay in my room."
Tavington looked like he would cheerfully strangle Benjamin Martin. "As you wish." His eyes rested on Margaret's for a moment. They were filled with sexual promise. Then, he turned on his heel and stalked away.
Benjamin reached for Margaret and pulled her into his arms. "Are you all right? Margaret, did he. . .?"
"No, Father," she said, resting her head on his shoulder. "He didn't harm me."
Bejamin closed his eyes and gave silent thanks. His world seemed to be unraveling. His home was filled with British soldiers. His son was in danger of being hanged. And the cause of all this mayhem was trying to force himself on his daughter. "If he comes near you again, I'll kill him," he said vehemently.
"Thank goodness he's leaving tomorrow," Margaret said. "Hopefully, without any bloodshed. But he's taking Gabriel with him," she said, her voice wavering.
Benjamin lifted her chin so they were eye to eye. "Let me worry about that. I swore to all of you when your mother died that we were a family and I wouldn't lose any more of you, do you remember that?"
Margaret nodded, tears gathering in her eyes.
"I meant it," Benjamin said solemnly. His face softened as he leaned in to kiss her forehead. "I'll see to the children. Get ready for bed and go to my room. I don't want you anywhere near him."
Margaret nodded, swiping at her eyes as she drifted down the hallway.
"Margaret?" he called. She turned at the sound of his voice. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she replied, smiling at him. He always made her feel warm and safe. She brightened up a bit. Father would find a way out of this. He would make sure that nothing happened to them.