Chapter 6:

Rupert wasn't expecting visitors when he woke the next day. The front doorbell rang at seven am, just three short hours after he managed to finally fall asleep from the night before. He stumbled from his bed, bleary eyed, not sure who to expect. He wasn't even sure he heard the doorbell at all when he woke until it chimed a second time. He belted his robe around his body and went to answer. There he found a distressed Liliana who immediately looked up at him and came in without an invitation. She seemed to be good at that, or, at least, she seemed to make it a habit.

"What happened with Alistair and Roland?"

"It's seven in the morning, Lilla. I'm not dressed."

"I'll wait."

Obviously she did not take hints, subtle or otherwise. With a resigned sigh he disappeared into the back and emerged again a little while later dressed and ready for a day he was not awake enough for. He made some tea and brought it into the living room, adding crumpets for good measure to the tray. She was waiting in the living room but he found her in a surprising place, at his bookcase. She had a book flipped open but it wasn't the text she was reading. It was the photograph inside that had her attention. It was the only photograph of them together that existed.

Without looking closer he knew it was the first edition copy of Alice in Wonderland she held. They used to amuse themselves by reading it to each other when they were alone. Indeed, she'd given him no end of grief when she discovered it among his collection. She thought it was too girly for a man to own and enjoyed seeing him blush. She didn't mean her teasing maliciously and didn't think less of him for owning it. It was one of the things they had in common, enjoying the story. He owned it because it was a first edition copy of the novel but more than that it had been a gift from his mother. Before it was Camelot and the legends of King Arthur it was this as a child. After a time it was one of their favorite things to relax into, reading to each other into the wee hours of the morning. They eventually graduated from Alice in Wonderland to the Canterbury Tales or epic poetry like the Odyssey.

He loved listening to her sweet voice reciting the couplets of the Iliad while he dreamed on the couch with his head in her lap or with her body curled in his arms. Whenever she tired she'd hand the book to him and he'd continue on where she left off. Those moments were more precious to him than oxygen and more intimate than sex. Making love to her had been an extension of being, as natural to him as breathing. When he saw her there and realized what she was staring at his breath hitched in his throat. He hadn't looked at the photograph himself in years. He used to look at it constantly in the beginning, the novel being the only book he hauled with him from place to place. Little by little he'd looked at it less and less until he finally decided not to pursue her anymore. That day he packed it away and forgot about it. Now it was here again and she'd found it without really looking.

There were tears in her eyes and she knew he'd come into the room but her gaze didn't lift from the picture.

"You kept it."

"Of course I did. I haven't looked at it in a long time. Like the book I simply locked it away. The memory of it was too painful to remember."

"I remember this day. You look so young!" She laughed, but it came out more as a choked sob. "We'd only known each other, what was it? Two weeks? Three? You invited me out to the cottage while we still had free time. Second day you had me out there we rode out into the field. You rode Kalderash and I rode Emmeline. We had that picnic in the woods, next to the pond. When we came back you had someone take this picture of us."

A lump was in his throat while he listened, remembering all too well the day she described. He'd rarely in his life been as happy as he was that day with her as they spent time together carefree and light. That was the night he'd first made love to her, taking her into his bedroom without a second thought when their time was supposed to come to an end. At the time all he kept thinking was that he didn't want the night to end. He wanted it to last forever. It did. He took his time, drawing out every pleasure they could share together. For the rest of that week he'd been in heaven, blissfully unaware of the passage of time until it came time to go back to London. Then reality came crashing in unexpectedly. He wasn't any less happy with her but somehow that week in the country seemed like a retreat for them. One he never forgot.

When he spoke again his voice was coated with emotion. "Kalderash and Emmeline have gone, though, they sired a mare – Liliana. I didn't know what else to call her."

Finally her large eyes shifted in his direction. They took in the sight of him holding the tray of tea and crumpets, which he'd forgotten he was holding, and she didn't know what to do. Half of her wanted to laugh for the good times and cry for the pain. She closed the book gingerly and put it back on the shelf.

"I didn't know you'd keep all of these memories of us, Rupert. I wanted so much to think you abandoned us completely. It was easier to believe you never cared at all but that's not the case, is it?"

"No!" he crossed the room, setting the tray to the side without giving it much thought, and took her into his arms, smoothing her hair. "Of course not. How could I forget you? You were the first woman I ever loved and the mother of my child. Even though you were never in my sight I thought about you. I wished I knew where you were. I packed up the memories when I couldn't bear their pain but I never abandoned you in my heart or mind, not completely, no matter where life took me."

Her lips were on his so fast he didn't realize their position had changed. The moment was so charged it was hard to follow anything more than the emotions. One moment he was calmly stroking her hair thinking to comfort her and the next she was melting against him with her lips meshed against his own. Without thought he recognized her need and responded with a desire he'd been harboring a long time. He picked up her slight body and pressed it against his, devouring her lips and tasting her tears mingling with the sweetness of her kisses.

He scooped his arm under her knees and brought her fully off the ground to curl against him. On instinct he swept her through the house, eyes closed while they kissed and navigating on memory and practice. He could move through his house in the dark with his eyes closed but still he only looked up occasionally to see that she wasn't hurt by their short journey. Her lips traveled over his face and neck, and he groaned in sweet desire. He got her to his room and laid her out on his disheveled bed, still warm from where he lay until just a little while ago. She looked glorious, wanting and beautiful with the lingering traces of her tears still wringing her eyes. She looked honest and vulnerable and...simply stunning. Truly, he was stunned by her and the surge of emotion he felt just looking at her this way.

"Lilla." He breathed her name, kneeling alongside her as he moved onto the bed. His body brushed hers as he moved up toward her waiting lips. He'd only been without them moments but it seemed like an eternity to him. He braced himself on one arm, kissing her again. The other hand knew exactly where to go, traveling over her side and back up again, warming her body to his touches. She didn't seem to have any objections as she pulled his face down to hers and kissed him again. Everything felt so good. He felt so gloriously alive with her in a way he hadn't felt since Jenny.

Rupert Giles had turned into a man who could do the things expected of him no matter how unpleasant. He'd become confident in who he was and his ability to be what was needed. But he'd also become jaded, distracted, disconnected from a world he'd helped to change. He knew the large part of that was his own choice, always submitting to duty in the end instead of doing what he wanted to do. Right now he couldn't think of anything he wanted to do more than taste every inch of her silken flesh.

Not even sleeping held any allure for him now. It was just her moans he wanted, the small sounds of pleasure she was making and the perfect way she seemed to know exactly how to move to heighten the sensation of his touches. He kissed down her neck and then onto her chest, placing kisses along her body with each button he undid on her blouse. She rolled her shoulders, sliding the garment off of them and then she sat up so he could slide it the rest of the way off her body. She kissed his lips again, taking the opportunity to rid him of his own shirt. She ran her hands down it and paused when they ran into his many scars. He didn't have them when they'd been together before. He felt a little awkward when she pulled away to study them, thinking she was repulsed.

Her hands ran over his skin, trailing the lines of each scar they found. As she did she whispered to him, soothing his nervousness about her reaction to them. "Scars are the evidence of trials endured. You've been through so much without me there. I wish I'd been there to endure it with you."

"Not every scar can be seen with the naked eye." He replied kindly, cupping her cheek with his hand. "I'm sure you carry plenty of your own and are stronger for it. I've been blessed to know so many strong woman, you among their number."

She smiled, the moment past. She pushed him gently down onto his bed, kissing her way along his chest this time. She took no small amount of joy in relearning his body, familiar and foreign all at once. Everything felt as it had before, just as natural to them both. Slowly the rest of their clothes joined the pile on the floor until he was caressing her naked body, running his hands over her skin and humming with anticipation. He was in awe of how it felt to be with her again. Had anything ever felt so natural in his life? So effortless? Surely not...

Liliana slid her hand down his body and grasped the object of her desire already diamond hard and thick, throbbing with the yearing to be one with her again. She moved to slip him inside her folds and he stopped her, giving his head a small shake. "Not yet." He moved her onto her back and kissed his way over her body. "I want to take my time."

There was nothing like the playground that was the expanse of her skin. Her took his time kissing his way along the tender flesh his lips could find. Each movement was set to the symphony of her moans. As he kissed lower on her body her hands threaded into his hair. He took that as encouragement, parting her thighs to taste the sweet jewel nestled there. Nothing compared to the shaky gasp she gave or the deeply pleasured moan that followed. His tongue snaked in and began lapping at the small delicate bundle of nerves. Her nectar was still sweet and he still craved it from the first taste.

She writhed beneath his lips and tongue, moaning loud and long and clutching at the sheets, balling them into her fists as he pleasured her. He eventually dipped a finger into her dewy slit as he feasted which drew an inarticulate sound. Even better as he moved it slowly in and out of her willing body, almost agonized himself when she felt how her body flexed over the invading digit and drew it in. She was dripping wet and more than ready for him. This thought was confirmed when she brought him up and looked into his eyes.

"Go slow, Rupert. I haven't made love in years." By years, of course, she meant nearly ten. She'd had one lover beside him and kept the man for a little while before she felt herself growing skittish and broke things off. He'd been a wonderful man and loved her but she just couldn't bring herself to love him in return and didn't think it was fair to use him for a physical outlet. If she pinpointed the last time she actually made love instead of simply seeking a sexual release it was the last time he was in her arms.

He shook his head. "Neither have I."

She nodded, knowing his time away from sex was considerably less than hers. It wasn't his fault she simply didn't make time for men in her life and she didn't hold it against him. She chose to sink into being a mother rather than trying to find someone to love. She hid behind her children and made them the reason she didn't want to find love. Or maybe she was afraid to find anyone else but Rupert in her heart, afraid that the memory she was clinging to wasn't infallible. It certainly seemed infallible now with him back in her life and back in her bed.

Unaware of her thoughts he kissed over her body again, taking the peak of one of her breasts into his mouth and suckling there while she shivered beneath him. He was positioned between her legs, his quivering member poised at her opening. He could feel the heat radiating from her body and wanted to feel it wrapped around him. His jade eyes flicked up to hers. She nodded, sliding her arms around him to bring his body up to align with hers. He slid inside her, sinking in inch by inch until he was fully sheathed. They both closed their eyes and savored the feel of this union too long in the making. She moaned and shifted her hips up, drawing him deeper into her body and sighed when he was in to the hilt.

"God, Lilla! You're..."

"I know. And you..." she gasped, inner muscles flexing. He still filled her to a T.

"Yes!" It was a hiss of an indrawn breath as he began to move.

He rested his forehead against hers and rocked his hips, sliding slowly in and out of her inviting canal. It was tight and hot and fitted to his body in a way nothing else ever had been. He slid a hand up her thigh and wrapped one leg around his waist, driving deeply into her. His own groans of ecstasy soon joined hers and they mixed in the air. Her hands wandered endlessly, sliding over his skin and sighing in contentment. He kissed her, letting himself remember everything. He remembered the girl he fell in love with and that night at the cottage. He remembered reading in her arms and sleeping together before they ever thought to make love. He remembered how pure and simple it had been. All this he put into the kiss and she seemed to echo it in her own. They took it slow for a long while, rediscovering the joy of making love to each other again.

Eventually, she let the other leg follow the first and hooked it around his waist, using them to drive him into her. Little by little his pace quickened until he was bucking furiously into her slit. She let her legs drop, allowing him the room he needed. The solid sound of skin to skin echoed with their moans.

"God, Rupert!" She was close, desperate.

"I know. I need you, too."

He rolled with her, settling her body against his hips while he stared up at her. It only took a moment for the change of position to register and then she began to move of her own accord, driving him deeply into her wanting body. She moved her hips in quick circles, bringing him almost all the way out of her only to have him slide right back in before either of them could be left wanting too long. He hummed in bliss, letting his hands rest on her hips.

"Guide me." she panted out. "Show me what you want."

Immediately he gripped her hips and all but slammed him down onto her. He impaled her repeatedly on his solid member and she cried out in pleasure. She was nearly unable to move the closer to her climax she got. Her body simply responded to his hands guiding her and she drew in a short breath, closing her eyes. He sensed her close. He had a demand of his own to make, one he knew she liked to hear.

"Come for me, Lilla. I want to feel it again."

She toppled helplessly over the edge with a ragged cry, collapsing on top of him. His lips sought out and found her own as he bucked into her, prolonging her orgasm. He felt her body flooded with the proof of her climax and her muscles milking him furiously. He was almost lost to the moment himself. He rolled her back onto her back, keeping her lips for his own as he thrust into her. He was grunting for pleasure and for all of the energy he was exerting. Her hands found his backside, urging him into her.

"Rupert!" It was a request.

He slowed his pace only a little so the sensations no longer blended together. He savored them again, feeling the beautiful way her body climaxed. Within moments he was lost to it, finding his own ending with an impassioned cry of her name. She accepted it, back arched with a loud moan of her own joined in. Thread after thread of his milky seed spilled into her and he hadn't the cognitive capacity to think or speak as the waves of his euphoria drifted over him. He lay on top of her, half of his body spilling to the side so there was no uncomfortable pressure to be felt. They were both panting, weak and glowing. His eyes stayed closed a long time lost in pleasure more than thought. Neither of them felt like moving. He felt her body trembling in the aftershocks he used to feel so often when they made love. Every time her body contracted in one of those aftershocks he groaned, feeling it echo in his own painfully sensitive phallus. Despite that he didn't not want to be separated from her yet, as if doing so would break this spell they were under.

It was she who moved first, sliding sideways to be able to lay alongside him. She turned on her side, cradling her head in her hand with her hair spilled back in the sunlight. She looked at him face down in the pillows and laughed a little. He chanced cracking an eye open to look at her and caught her grin. He answered with one of his own and finally moved onto his back feeling sated and happy. He studied her in the sunlight, mildly concerned that this was a dream he was living through and any moment he'd wake up alone with an embarrassing erection to deal with.

"Rupert, how did things go with Alistair and Roland?"

Ah, yes, he knew they'd have to get back to that eventually, wouldn't they? Best not to put it off. He explained what happened in detail, divulging his observations of their relationship as well as the barely veiled hostility he felt at the end of the night. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither would this relationship. She nodded her way through it, smiling here and there and pushing her hand through his mane of hair. Roland's reaction didn't surprise her. Neither did Alistair's, to be honest. She explained that when he was finished.

"Alistair often felt like the man of the house because he was the oldest. No matter how hard I tried to keep any sort of pressure or expectation off of him he just seemed to take on the role. He buries so much inside himself. Our youngest is predictable in his anger, quick to take it up and quick to let it go. He yells and kicks and screams and then five minutes later it's as if it never happened. Alistair is harder to read. Sometimes I'll think he's unaffected and then he'll say something out of the blue that makes me pause. I often wonder if he really thinks he's fine or if he's just gotten so good at burying his feelings that he truly convinces himself that it doesn't matter how he feels. I tried to teach him to come to me when he feels this way but I suppose in this we're both the enemy."

"You're never the enemy." Giles whispered, touching her cheek fondly. "They love you."

"I pray you're right, Rupert. I don't think its Roland you have to worry about getting you across the threshold. It's Alistair. Roddy takes his cues from his older brother. If you get in with him you're in with Roland no matter how much he pretends otherwise."

Rupert nodded, understanding. It was nothing more than he suspected himself. Alistair was the deciding factor for his younger brother, taking up the mantle of father figure a little too well. She shrugged and he settled an arm over her body, bringing her in close. He heard her heart beating in her chest, calmly thudding away and the sound soothed him. He'd keep trying. He'd make it clear he loved them and would let them come to him. If it took a year or ten he was determined to be there for them every step of the way. He sighed, thinking of matters more complicated than the pleasure they'd just experienced.

And that was the other crux. What were they doing? Was it some latent itch to scratch from years ago? Was she alright with things? He didn't want to be declared a mistake in her life. He was certain that he had loved her and was certain he'd just made love to her in some profound way he hadn't experienced in a long time. It wasn't clear whether those feelings lingered on or were simply brought up by their moment of true connection. Perhaps making love to Jenny for the first time would have felt as charged as this but he'd never had a chance to find out. Liliana seemed to notice his frown, the clear indicator of his thoughts. She smiled, catching his attention with a touch.

"Do I want to know what you're thinking?"

"Probably not. I'm as analytical as I ever was."

"Ah, yes. I've been on the receiving end of your inner debates before. I think I remember how they go." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "This wasn't a mistake. I don't expect anything from you because of it and you are just as good a lover today as you were twenty five years ago...even better, I'd say, physically speaking. Emotionally? Well...it was hard to match you for that."

"Why do you love me after all this time, Lilla?"

"I didn't..." but he gave her a look to stop her protest. "Because of the person you are, Rupert. Because time has made you strong and when you touch me I still go weak in the knees. Am I not supposed to love you anymore? Am I supposed to pretend that being here with you doesn't awaken some part of my heart that has been dormant for years?"

"I don't think the boys were the only ones clinging to an idea of me, Lilla." Immediately upon saying the words he realized he hadn't meant them in the way they came across. Oh, bugger! He backpedaled. "I didn't..." but too late, the damage was already done. She backed away from him.

"Rupert..." she sounded hurt more than offended.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." He frowned, though, and reconsidered before he continued. "But I wouldn't be the man I am if I didn't say I'm a bit concerned that you're holding onto an expectation of me I'm not quite sure I can live up to."

She opened her mouth to respond but closed it again before any sound could come out. Instead she slipped from the bed and started to gather up her clothes. His expression didn't improve and he sat up, reaching out to take her hand. She stopped what she was doing and smiled at him. He didn't believe she was as alright as her smile indicated but he couldn't very well argue with it, either. It wasn't his place to. She wanted him to believe she was alright.

"I need to go." She told him gently. "I wasn't planning on spending hours here this morning."

He blinked. Hours? Had she said hours? He looked at the clock that read ten twenty five. Where had the time gone to? Had he lost himself completely while they were entwined? He must have and here was the proof of it. He moved out of the bed and dressed again himself, determined to see her out the door. It was an awkward sort of goodbye. He reached to kiss her and she turned her cheek and tried to hug him. She laughed nervously and he said he'd call her soon before letting her move through the door. Once it closed behind her he went back to his bed and lay there a while thinking about this turn of events and eventually he dozed.