AN: It's going to be a couple days before I can get the nextchapters of "Tell Him" or "Hope Comes From Within" ready. So to hold you over, I went digging through my computer files, and found this. The idea sprung to me a few months ago when I was writing "Terms of Devotion," and it kind of evolved from there. It is a one-shot, telling what Dom was up to during Kel and Dom's romance. I hope you enjoy it. Please review and let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, countries, or plot tlines that originated in Tamora Pierce's "Protector of the Small" quartet. However, the plot of this story is my own idea. :D
Terms of Devotion:
Lalasa pulled the thread tight on the tiny gold rose she was stitching onto her friend's wedding gown. Keladry of Mindelan, the girl who, as a young page had taken Lalasa into service and taught her to defend herself, was getting married.
Kel's betrothed, Sir Nealan of Queenscove, had just left a fitting, and Lalasa was glad to see him go. All he did was fidget and complain. He was getting just what he needed in Kel; she would keep him in line and out of trouble, and he would remind her to have fun and enjoy life.
Lalasa looked up at the sound of the bell on the door. A tendril of her dark hair fell into her face from the bun she had secured behind her head. Lalasa tucked it back behind her ear as she stood to greet the newcomer to her store.
It was a face that she did not recognize, but from his uniform, she could see that he was a member of the King's Own. He was tall with darker brown hair and piercing blue eyes.
"Hello, my lady," the man said politely. Lalasa tipped her head.
"May I help you?" she asked pleasantly.
"My name is Domitan of Masbolle. I am a friend of Kel." Lalasa smiled.
"So I've heard. She wrote me of you more than once when she was a squire."
"Good things, I hope. Her imagination does get away with her lately," Dom said with a smile.
"Not entirely. And I believe every word she says," Lalasa said. "Did you need something?"
"Yeah," Dom said. "Your help."
"My help?" Lalasa repeated.
"You see, I know that you are making Kel's wedding dress and I was hoping that you would aid me in making my cousin's wedding night well- interesting."
"And what can I do?" Lalasa asked, blushing.
"I want to make it as difficult as possible for Meathead to get his lovely bride out of her wedding dress."
"So you want me to sew her into it?" Lalasa asked.
"Well that's going a bit far…would you?" The seamstress bit back a smile.
"You and your cousin get along well, do you?" she asked.
"I live to make him miserable," Dom said with a grin. Lalasa sighed but smiled over at the young man.
"I guess I could put in an extra button or two…" Lalasa trailed off as she carefully turned the delicate dress over to see the back.
"Buttons aren't always very strong," Dom said, looking over her shoulder at her work.
"Well you see, it buttons, and then there are two strips that tie into a bow over the top of each button, hiding them," Lalasa explained.
"So it's reinforced," Dom said, his voice near to her ear. "I like it." Lalasa looked up. His face was just inches from hers. Awkwardly, he turned away and coughed.
"Well, I guess I'm done for the day," Lalasa said, gingerly placing the gown on a hanger and into the dressing room of her store. She picked up a basket of mending to take to her rooms with her, and slipped into her cloak, all along expecting Dom to leave.
"May I walk you home?" Dom asked. "It really isn't safe…" he trailed off.
"I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, Sir. And I'm not going home. I have to teach a class." Lalasa shooed him out the door and locked it.
"What kind of a class?" he asked.
"Self-defense for women and children," she said, stepping quickly as she walked down the road. The winter wind was chilly in the day, but icy when the sun went down.
"Well that's… good," Dom said, mentally kicking himself for not being able to come up with anything better to say.
"It is good, considering the amount of rapes and assaults that could be prevented if people could only defend themselves. Even when you factor in the amount of nobles-" Lalasa abruptly stopped her passionate sputtering. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to go off on you, Sergeant Domitan. I just get… overenthusiastic when I start on my cause."
"Call me Dom," he said. "And your passion is not bothersome at all, Lady Lalasa. Kel gets downright obsessive when she's out to prove a point."
"She does not," Lalasa said, smiling slightly. She looked up at the doors; they had reached her destination. "Well, here we are."
"So the wedding dress won't be a problem?" Dom asked.
"Not at all," Lalasa said.
"It's nice doing business with you." Dom extended his hand. Lalasa shook it briskly, and then watched the man walk off. After her rough upbringing, Lalasa had sworn off men and all kinds of relationships. She didn't want them.
Why then, did she feel a strange tug as the sergeant disappeared around a corner?
Lalasa straightened the pale yellow layers of her overrobe across her lap. Beneath the robe, she wore a white dress with pastel yellow vines running through the fabric. The wedding ceremony was over, and the banquet that followed was just beginning.
Lalasa was seated at a table with Prince Roald and Princess Shinkokami, whom she was designing a maternity wardrobe for, as well as Sir Owen and Sir Merric. Several of Kel's sparrow friends perched on her shoulders; during the banquet, Lalasa fed the tiny guests bread crumbs and other little tidbits.
Nearby, Kel danced with her new husband. Her eyes shone as they looked into his, oblivious to the joke that Dom was playing on them. Lalasa's heart fluttered as she thought of the blue-eyed sergeant.
How fickle am I? She thought. I've only seen the man once; that certainly doesn't give me daydreaming rights. As Lalasa fought with herself inside, she didn't notice the man approaching her chair.
"Would you care to dance?" he asked. Lalasa nodded, blushing a deep red, glad that he couldn't read her thoughts. She let Dom take her hand and lead her onto the dance floor. The first dance was slower-paced. Lalasa discovered that she and Dom talked easily.
"So, how have your classes been?" Dom asked.
"Fine," Lalasa said. "I didn't think that this bunch would learn as quickly as they are."
"It must be the teacher," he commented. "She's very pretty tonight. I mean- you're very pretty all the time, but you look especially nice tonight. "
"Thank you," Lalasa said, looking down at her feet. For the wedding, Lalasa had let her hair hang down in wavy ringlets. Combined with her gown, it was a look she thought better suited to a delicate court lady, instead of herself.
They talked casually until the song ended, and a new, faster-paced court dance started playing. Lalasa needed her breath and concentration to keep instep. By the time the music ended, Lalasa was almost panting, and a light perspiration had settled on her forehead.
Dom nodded towards the door that led to the gardens.
"Shall we go for a walk, maybe get a little air?"
"I'd like that," Lalasa agreed, taking his arm. They went out into the gardens, wandering between rows and rows of flowers, covered in a light dusting of snow.
Lalasa was surprised that she felt so at ease with Dom. Usually being alone with a man made her heart and mind race, trying to find a less secluded spot. A spot where if she screamed, aid would come.
As she pondered this, Dom caught her off guard. They had stopped at the end of a path. He leaned over and gave her lips a small kiss. Lalasa took two steps back, shocked.
"I'm sorry," Dom said immediately. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"I'm just a little startled, that's all," Lalasa said, wishing that he would kiss her again. Fool! her mind screamed. But the seamstress' heart took over. She leaned back in and Dom followed suite. He told her that he knew of her past, as it had gone around in the palace gossip when Kel had first hired her, and again when the men who kidnapped her during Kel's exams had been tried.
"Do you believe everything you hear from the gossip-hounds, Dom?" Lalasa asked with a half-smile.
"Of course not," he said. Then he changed the subject. "If I ever make you feel uncomfortable, please let me know."
"I'm not at all uncomfortable," Lalasa said, leaning into his arms. "I'm happy."
"Happy is good," Dom said, stroking her hair.
"Happy is very good," Lalasa agreed. She was starting to shiver with cold.
"Let's go back," Dom said, offering her his arm. Lalasa let him wrap the arm around her shoulders as they wandered back to the party.
More than three months after the wedding, Lalasa sat in her store once more, stitching on a dress that the queen had ordered. The bell on the door rang, and Lalasa looked up to see Dom. She smiled and put aside her project.
"Well, hello, Sergeant," she said, standing. "What brings you here today?"
"I just stopped by to thank you," he said. They were standing very close to each other.
"You thanked me yesterday. And last week, and the day after the wedding," Lalasa mumbled, a million thoughts fluttering through her head at Dom's nearness.
Looking for an excuse, she noticed at the way his uniform bagged and pulled at funny angles.
"Who fitted this?" she asked. "That ogre at the palace?" Dom nodded with a twinge of a smile. "Let me fix it," Lalasa said, turning away and getting some pins.
"You don't have to," he protested.
"It will only take a few minutes," Lalasa insisted. She smoothed the leathery fabric over his chest. Dom caught her chin with his hand and began to kiss her passionately. She slipped her arms up around her his neck, kissing back.
Lalasa pulled away from Dom's arms and began to smooth the fabric across his back, pinning the seams.
Neal and Kel walked into the small shop. The green-eyed mage's eyebrows rose very high. One of Kel's followed suite.
"Yes, Raoul?" Dom asked teasingly. Kel ignored his comment and looked between her two friends.
"My lady, it is good to see you," Lalasa said. "You mustn't hide out at Queenscove all the time."
"Well we are here for awhile," Neal said. "Kel wants to see her brothers before she's confined to bed."
"Why would she be confined to bed?" Dom asked. Lalasa grinned.
"Oh Kel. This is so wonderful!" she said, hugging her friend. Dom watched with confusion written across his face.
"We're having a baby," Neal clarified. Dom clapped his cousin across the back.
"Congratulations, Meathead," he said. He gave Kel a hug. "Kel."
"Ow!" Kel exclaimed as one of Dom's pins struck her arm.
"Oops," Dom said, stepping away.
"Let me finish that quickly," Lalasa said, adding pins to his tunic. "Take it off and I'll re-seam it." Neal's eyebrows hit the ceiling again.
Dom handed the heavy tunic to Lalasa, and then snapped his fist into Neal's shoulder.
"You can't leave until I measure you," Lalasa told Kel over her shoulder as she retreated to a table where she could spread out. Kel smiled uncomfortably, and didn't bother to protest. "You're learning," Lalasa grinned.
"So what's going on here?" Neal asked.
"Not much," Dom said. He went to the back of Lalasa's chair and began to rub her shoulders. He leaned down beside her and kissed her cheek.
"Dom!" Lalasa gasped. Neal coughed to cover a laugh, and Kel elbowed her husband, and looked back to Dom and Lalasa.
"It took you long enough," she said, brushing her bangs from her eyes.
"Is that all you have to say," Dom asked, surprised.
"I saw you wander away at the wedding," Kel said.
"Oh, by the way, thank you," Neal added. Dom grinned, confirming what Neal had suspected about Kel's wedding dress. "I told you!" he cried to his wife. Kel sent Neal a withering look. Her demeanor changed and she rushed past Neal and into the privy.
"Morning sickness," Neal explained, following her. Dom looked down at Lalasa, and she smiled.
"You know, you probably played a roundabout role in the conception of that child," she said.
"I did have help," he said, kissing her again. Neal interrupted, clearing his throat.
"We'd better go," Kel said as they returned. "I'll come back and see you when our conversation won't be hindered by these- men."
Kel and Neal went to the door. Neal exited, but Kel turned back, catching Dom's eye. She looked down and pressed a hand to her belly.
"Thank you," she said, slipping out the door.
"I guess you were right about that," Dom said.
"I usually am," Lalasa said, smiling. She stood and shook out the tunic. "Now here, try this on."
"It's perfect," Dom said after he had slipped it on and tested the fit. "Just like you."
"I love you," Dom said, pulling her close.
"I love you too."