Lost and Found
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the books, movies or games of the fandom Dune and I'm not making any money from this fic
Summary: AU. When Irulan endangers herself to uncover a plot against Paul, it forces both him and Chani to re-evaluate their feelings for her. Contains spanking and a three-way relationship
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for the first book of the Dune series/the film and mini-series of Dune; AU for all events following those of the first book; three-way relationship – two women, one man; contains female slash (just kissing/embracing); some violence; some OOCness
Pairing(s): Paul/Chani; Chani/Irulan; Paul/Irulan; Paul/Chani/Irulan
Timeline: Set very shortly after the events of Dune
Irulan closed the communication screen and sighed, putting a hand to her forehead as she struggled to retain her Bene Gesserit training and keep her face calm and reposed. It wasn't like there was anyone around to see if she lapsed, but the training was always there in the back of her mind, no matter how much she tried to show that she didn't care for the Bene Gesserit... that she could be of more use to him than a wife he had taken merely to cement him in his power.
Even if Paul would never return her feelings, Irulan wanted to be useful to him.
However, now the Bene Gesserit had ordered Irulan to prevent Chani from ever conceiving a child. She'd been told to do whatever it took.
But even though Irulan carried some resentment towards Chani, she didn't feel able to go through with those orders. She didn't want to be responsible for Chani being unable to conceive. She couldn't hurt Paul like that. But if she was going to defy the Bene Gesserit, she was going to have to be very careful.
Irulan returned her attention to the histories she was writing, one of the only things that currently held any interest for her. There was little else she had to fill her time with. She wasn't exactly a prisoner in the palace, but she certainly didn't have anything like the freedom she'd had whilst living with her father – and that freedom had been precious little.
With a quiet sigh, Irulan finally laid aside her work. There wasn't much she could write about events merely from her perspective. She needed to speak to Paul... to Chani; to try and see what their side of it was. They wouldn't help her simply because she asked it, but perhaps if she could convince them that there needed to be a record of past events...
Irulan stood and slowly walked out of her chambers. She moved along the corridors of the palace, hands clasped in front of her and eyes focused only in front of her. She saw servants passing from the corner of her eye, but she didn't turn to look at them. She always had to maintain discipline. She couldn't relax – and especially not here.
Irulan's attention, however, was drawn to Chani as the Fremen woman approached her. Her steps faltered a little as she saw the elfin face framed by long black hair. There was something about Chani that Irulan felt herself drawn to, almost as strongly as she felt drawn to Paul. She was still reluctant to analyse those feelings and see exactly what they meant, though.
Chani paused and watched Irulan, her face unreadable. Finally, she spoke. "You mentioned earlier that you were writing histories... accounts of past events."
Irulan's own steps paused as Chani spoke to her. It took her a few moments to realise what the woman was saying, but when she did, she quickly nodded. "I know most people don't think it's important, but through studying histories, we know how people in the past viewed events – and not to repeat the same mistakes." She was probably telling Chani things she already knew, but since someone had expressed interest in her work, it was much harder to hold her tongue.
Was she really so desperate for a kind word from either Paul or Chani?
Chani looked thoughtful all through the explanation and then she nodded. "It would be helpful to speak to people actually there at the events, right?"
"Are you hungry? We could have something to eat and then you can show me what you have so far," Chani suggested.
Irulan watched Chani closely, searching for any sign of deceit or mockery. They might tolerate each others' presence, but neither had made any attempt to reach out to the other.
Chani just stared right back at Irulan, her face expressionless – so much so that Irulan believed the other woman had just as much discipline as a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother.
Finally, Irulan nodded. "Yes. That would be..." She hesitated, thinking of the right word. "Nice," she finished.
Later, after they'd both eaten, Irulan sat in her room with Chani seated opposite her. Irulan had to keep resisting the urge to look round the room and make sure nothing was out of place. There was no reason to feel so disturbed. She'd never had anything even slightly out of its proper place.
As Chani talked, Irulan made notes, listening intently to the woman's story. It was interesting to hear the events from the lips of someone who'd actually been there and not just because of the histories she was writing.
It was nice to listen to Chani talk.
Irulan looked up from her notes to find Chani's eyes on her. The other woman was studying her with an intensity that made Irulan shift a little uncomfortably in her seat. Finally, Chani spoke. "You do not act like I would expect."
Irulan didn't know what she'd expected Chani to say, but it certainly wasn't that. "How would you expect me to act?"
"Arrogant. Haughty. Like the daughter and now wife of an Emperor."
In spite of herself, Irulan felt the barest trace of a smile touch her lips. "I can act like that if I choose to, but that's not what I'm really like."
"So I'm beginning to see." Chani leaned forward slightly. "Tell me. Do you love him?"
Irulan didn't have to ask who Chani meant. "I don't know how I feel," she admitted. Perhaps she had feelings for Paul and perhaps she didn't. It wasn't really something she had a strong desire to talk to Chani about.
"I see." Chani kept her eyes focused on Irulan's. "You know they're going to try and control him? Your Bene Gesserit organisation. Maybe they've already tried to contact you." Her eyes flicked towards the communication screen.
Irulan frowned, not sure where Chani was going with this. After a moment or two, she decided to be honest. "They want me to prevent you from conceiving a child." She kept her voice low as she spoke. She kept making sure nothing was in her room to allow the Bene Gesserit – or indeed anyone else – to eavesdrop on her conversations, but she knew full well what the intrigues were in a palace. It wouldn't surprise her if there were servants who were the eyes and ears of the Bene Gesserit.
They had those everywhere.
Chani studied Irulan's face with her head cocked to one side. "What will they do to you if they discover you choose to disobey them?"
Irulan supposed she'd given away her intentions with her response. It troubled her that she hadn't chosen to keep her motives closer to her chest. She couldn't afford to let anything interfere with her duty, but she had never expected to have to deal with personal emotions. Why should she tell Chani anything? And yet, she found her mouth opening and words spilling out. "They could employ other ways to ensure you cannot carry a child. Or they might seek to have me removed." She spoke without emotion, but she knew what removal would mean.
If not death, then complete separation from the source of her rebellion.
"We can't let that happen." Chani spoke simply, but with great conviction. Her eyes bored into Irulan. "Don't let them know you've stopped working for them. Paul needs to know their plans – and they'll let you into them if they think you're still working for them."
Irulan frowned. "You want me to... pretend to work with them, when really, I'm giving information to you and Paul?"
Chani nodded. "Is that something you can do? Without risk to yourself?"
"Why do you want my help?"
"Because..." Chani reached out to lightly touch Irulan's knee. "I think I can trust you. You haven't lied to me and I have seen nothing in your actions to indicate you want to cause harm or only care for your own motives."
Irulan looked down at Chani's hand and thought it would only take a slight movement to place her hand over the other woman's. Her leg felt hot where Chani's hand rested, but she wasn't sure if the heat came from the contact or from her imagination. She looked up to find Chani's eyes still on her, a knowing smile gracing the woman's features. "What?" Irulan asked, suddenly uncomfortable. She was working harder to keep her composure and remember her training.
Instead of answering directly, Chani gently squeezed Irulan's knee. "I thought it would be easy to hate you... or not feel anything towards you. But I keep seeing things that force me to change my views of you." She leaned forward slightly, moving her hand from Irulan's leg and up to her cheek. She then moved further forward and Irulan felt warm breath against her lips a split second before she felt the slight pressure of lips on hers.
Surprised, Irulan just sat there with her hands folded in her lap for a moment or two before she found herself kissing back, increasing the pressure. She looked into Chani's completely blue eyes and felt a strange sensation in the pit of her stomach.
When Chani pulled back, Irulan felt strangely bereft of the other woman's touch, but she didn't speak. She wasn't sure what she should do or say. What did this mean for the relationship Chani had with Paul?
"I had to see what that was like before we leave this room as enemies," Chani said softly. "No one can know what you are doing, not even Paul. The danger is too great."
Irulan frowned. "He will see me as a traitor."
"He will be unable to do anything to you, because you are the security of his position as Emperor." Chani stood up. "I believe your loyalty runs deep towards Paul. We merely need to cripple the Bene Gesserit. Once that is done, you will have what you desire."
Irulan wasn't sure what that was anymore, but she said nothing and just watched as Chani left the room, suddenly far more unsure of herself than she ever had been before.
About a week later, Irulan was beginning to feel the strain of leading a double life. Although Chani had been avoiding her, she couldn't stop thinking about how the woman had acted towards her. She would have suspected Chani had kissed her merely to unsettle and unbalance her, but she'd never thought Chani would do something like that.
Irulan had temporarily put aside her work on the histories to act as if she were following the orders of the Reverend Mother. Now, she sat at her communication system, watching the elderly, withered face of the woman. She would have pitied her – but despite the Reverend Mother's frail appearance, her mind was as sharp as ever.
"If anyone comes, make sure you don't say anything you shouldn't."
"Yes, Reverend Mother," Irulan replied, keeping her tone level. "You said there was something I need to know?"
The woman nodded. "One of the Bene Gesserit is there and is to assassinate the Emperor's concubine. Once she is out of the way, he will have no choice but to take you to his bed and give you his heir."
Only the rigorous training Irulan had gone through kept her from showing any reaction to those words. "I thought you were going to leave that to me," she said evenly.
"The Emperor is not stupid. He will suspect you had some hand in it. At least this way, you will not be able to tell him anything because there is nothing you know." The Reverend Mother eyed Irulan. "Is there a problem?"
"Why did you tell me anything, then?" Irulan asked before she could help herself.
"You have to be prepared to play your part. Do not fail in this." The Reverend Mother didn't give Irulan a chance to respond before she ended the communication.
Irulan sat there in stunned silence for a few moments, but she knew she didn't have long to act. If the Reverend Mother was telling her this now, that meant the assassin would be acting within the hour, if not sooner.
Irulan stood and swiftly walked out of the room. She hadn't completed all of her Bene Gesserit training, but that didn't mean she couldn't do something. She had to warn Chani. She had to stop the assassin. She had to do something.
As Irulan walked down the corridor, she called on her training to keep herself calm and act as if nothing was wrong. She couldn't risk alerting the assassin to the emotional turmoil going through her mind. There would be nothing to stop the assassin holding back their attack – and, worse, they would report back to the Reverend Mother that Irulan had chosen to side with the Emperor.
She couldn't allow any of that to happen.
Irulan wasn't sure where Chani would be at this time, but she guessed Paul would be in the meeting room. She started in that direction, but her ears caught the sound of a struggle in one of the other rooms. She didn't give herself a chance to stop and think and swiftly headed to the door on the left side, pushing it open and stepping inside.
A Bene Gesserit acolyte was struggling with Chani, having the other woman in a choke hold. As Irulan abandoned all pretence at keeping to her training and leaped forward, she spoke. "Let her go." It wasn't until the assassin let go of Chani that Irulan realised she'd used the Voice – something she'd never been able to do before.
Irulan didn't bother trying to work out how she'd succeeded in using a tool that she'd never been able to master before. She glanced at Chani and saw, with some relief, that the woman was relatively unharmed. She turned her attention back to the Bene Gesserit and opened her mouth to question her.
The next moment, though, Irulan felt a sharp pain in the back of her head and she crumpled to the floor.
When Irulan woke up again, she found herself lying on a soft mattress. She sat up with a slight wince, opening her eyes to see both Paul and Chani with her, in a room she didn't recognise. She looked around with some confusion and then back at the others. "Where...?" She was trying to ask where she was, but her mouth was too dry to get out any more than a muffled word.
Without a word, Paul took a cup of water and held it to Irulan's lips, letting her take small sips. He didn't look away from her and Irulan felt a little uncomfortable with the close scrutiny.
"You saved Chani's life," Paul said quietly once Irulan had drunk enough, placing the cup to one side. "The assassin was Bene Gesserit trained. Why would you stop that?"
Unable to help herself, Irulan's eyes flicked towards Chani. The other woman stared back at her with an unreadable look on her face. There was no help from that source, then. Irulan let her gaze move back to Paul. "I couldn't let her die."
"With her out of the way, you stand a good chance of having one of your children on my throne."
"I'm not working for the Bene Gesserit anymore," Irulan answered. "I only contacted them and allowed them to contact me in an attempt to let the Reverend Mother think she could trust me." She hesitated. "I suppose that's not going to happen now."
Paul finally turned his attention away from Irulan to look at Chani. Irulan couldn't read either of their expressions, but she saw Chani nod slightly before Paul turned back to her. "You've been unconscious for three days," he said quietly.
Irulan couldn't help her eyes widening a little at that. She lifted a hand to touch the back of her head.
"It was a particular type of poison," Paul continued quietly. "Not one that we recognised. I don't believe you had enough for a lethal dose, but you still put yourself in danger when you should have called for help."
"Would anyone have believed me?" Irulan returned.
Paul shrugged, apparently conceding the point. "It would have been better than having you risk yourself."
"Even if I die, your position is still secure. More so, because there would be no child to risk your line of succession."
Paul slowly shook his head. "You think that's the only reason you shouldn't have risked your life? Of course you do," he answered his own question. "I've given you no cause to believe you're anything more to me than a means to an end. Anything more to me and Chani. That's going to change now."
Irulan looked between the two of them. "What do you mean?"
Chani slowly walked over and sat down on the bed next to Paul. "This has begun to prove to us that we care for you."
"You... care for me?" Irulan repeated uncertainly. She was beginning to think that her training must have failed her somewhere, that she was hearing things that held little meaning to her. Almost unconsciously, she touched her fingers to her lips, remembering the kiss Chani had given her.
Paul's smile was gentle. "I believe you will find it is so much more than simple 'caring'." He reached out and gently pulled Irulan's fingers away from her lips, replacing her fingers with his own mouth.
Irulan sat there, stunned. This wasn't quite like how Chani had kissed her, but it was no less meaningful. All thoughts flew out of her head when Paul deepened the kiss, letting go of her hand to slide his arm around her body and pull her closer to him. When he finally pulled back, Irulan thought all of the rest of her careful control had been stripped away. "Surely a relationship like this is not something we can do?" she asked.
"Three people involved in a relationship is not unheard-of in a Fremen colony," Chani answered. "Although there are many reasons for more than two to be together, sometimes the reason is purely for love." She reached for one of Irulan's hands while Paul took the other. "Is this something you want?"
"Yes." Irulan spoke quietly, but knew it was.
Once again, Paul and Chani exchanged glances. Then, Chani let go of Irulan's hand and stood up once more. Paul turned to Irulan. "I need to show you why you can't endanger yourself any longer. We need this relationship to work and for that, you need consequences for your actions." He settled himself further onto the bed and then pulled Irulan forward and across his knees, making sure the rest of her body was supported by the bed.
No one had ever raised a hand to her before, but Irulan knew instinctively what this position meant. She'd never begged before in her life, so she didn't bother trying to ask Paul not to do this or attempt to get away. She held herself very still as her skirt was lifted and then her breath hissed out slightly as Paul's hand landed heavily on her backside.
Irulan had experienced pain at the hands of the Bene Gesserit and the memories of her own hand being burned inside the box were still vivid inside her mind. However, nothing could have ever prepared her for the sensation of being across Paul's lap with his hand falling in hard, heavy swats against her bottom. The swats seemed to echo unnaturally loudly in the room and Irulan cringed at the thought of someone coming into the room and finding her like this.
Paul moved his hand a little further down and began letting his hand fall on so far untouched skin, mainly on the tender areas where bottom met thighs. Irulan clenched her teeth tightly to try and stop any sounds from escaping her, but she'd never been very good at forcing her way through pain. Just another area in which she was flawed.
The spanking paused and Irulan wondered if it was over. Then, Paul began swatting her bottom again – harder and faster than before, not giving Irulan a chance to even take a breath between the smacks.
Irulan couldn't help it – tears began slipping down her cheeks. When the first sob caught in her throat, Paul stopped and gathered her into his arms, holding her and soothing her. A moment later, Chani came over as well, adding her own comfort to Paul's.
As she felt the warm arms embracing her, Irulan wondered if she would wake up to find this was a dream, though the pain in her backside seemed to imply it was about as far from a dream as possible.
And she'd give everything as long as this stayed real.