Author's Note: Okay so wow. The reviews (positive ones) I got did inspire me to write some more in this. So, thank you, readers. I hope I don't disappoint you. And to you, my one negative reviewer, I sort of hope you had this followed, just to try to cuss me out more. My advice to you? Don't be a donut. If you don't want to read Meggie/Dustfinger, don't f*cking look in the "M" section under this pairing, and stop minging up people's review boards. Tosser.

With that noted, please be advised that this is still a rated M story, i.e. there is sex between Dustfinger and Meggie. If you're currently reading this, you've realized that already. If you don't like it, if the age gap squicks you out, then don't read it. Duh.

Disclaimer: I don't own Inkheart, or the characters. No monetary gain is had in the writing of this.

Laughter echoed down the hallways, signalling the end of the term at last. Meggie slung her bag over her shoulder and stepped out of her dorm, locking the door on her way out. A few people tapped her shoulder, saying goodbye for the holiday as they passed. Meggie called out to them as she went her own way up the hall. A few other people gestured to her with smiles. She'd made a lot of new friends this term.

As she continued to walk up the hall, the students' laughter followed her. The sound reverberated off the walls, echoing louder and louder around her. The sound filled her ears, the laughter eventually distorting into something akin to cries.

Meggie took a few more steps down the hallway before she felt a cold tingle down her neck. She paused in her stride, noticing she was alone suddenly. She glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone was behind her. The hallway appeared to be empty.

After taking a deep breath, Meggie strode purposefully down the hall a little further. She had made it about ten paces before she heard the faintest trace of a whisper.

"Meggie."

Quickly, she turned her head again, looking all around her. All of the doors were closed, locked tight for the end of the term. There was no one.

Still, the feeling of being watched was strong. Meggie attempted to push the feeling aside, continuing down the hallway. The whisper sounded again, this time right in her ear. She started, jumping to one side. Her arm brushed something cold, making her cry out.

"Who's there?" she asked the empty hallway. She waited a few more moments before repeating her question, louder this time.

She had just breathed a sigh of relief, satisfied that she was just imagining it, when she felt the hand clamp around her mouth, pulling her back into the room behind her.

"I told you not to run."

Meggie woke with a startled cry. She sat up on her elbows, looking around in a panic. Where was she? Dappled sunlight fell over her naked body, light and shadow mingling over her pale skin.

It was only when Dustfinger appeared in the doorway, a puzzled expression on his face, that she recalled where she was.

Home. She was home. She was in Dustfinger's room. She was in Dustfinger's...bed.

Meggie felt the hot blush staining her cheeks and she slowly pulled the sheet up her body, covering herself.

"Are you all right, Meggie?" Dustfinger asked, stepping into the room. He approached the bed like he would an animal, possibly a dangerous one. "I heard you cry out."

It took her a moment to remember why she had cried out, but it suddenly came rushing back to her. She shuddered, but shook her head. "I'm fine, Dustfinger," she lied, not meeting his gaze. "I...just had a bad dream is all." She looked up at him this time. This was the truth, at least. Still, she could feel her guilt around her eyes, so she blinked.

A few moments passed before Dustfinger sat on the edge of the bed. He was clad in jeans and a t-shirt, feet bare. A cup of coffee was in one hand; the other reached out to her hesitantly before drawing back. When Meggie looked at him, she saw the hurt in his eyes; her guilt magnified. He knew she was lying.

"There's coffee in the kitchen if you'd like some," Dustfinger said at length, reaching out to take her hand. His voice was kind. Gone from his face was the hurt; in its place was his easy demeanor. Meggie wondered how he did that, hid his feelings so well.

Practice, she told herself.

"Thanks," she replied, smiling at him. "I'll be out in a minute. I just...need to get dressed." Her expression turned sheepish as she remembered her naked state.

A small blush crossed Dustfinger's face as he averted his eyes. "Right. I'll just..." he gestured vaguely to the door then made his exit.

Meggie flopped back onto the bed. She worked to push away her nightmare, not wanting to think about it, about him. Instead, she thought about the previous night. Her face burned. Not from embarrassment or shame, but only as a reaction to the thoughts. Dustfinger moving over her, his hands all over her body, his lips whispering her name, his gasp as he came.

Slowly, she crawled out of the bed - it was a double bed, hardly big enough for two adults. While she'd heard some stories at university of making it work in a twin bed, Meggie imagined it wasn't all that comfortable. As she pulled on her pajama bottoms, she had an odd feeling pulling on her clothes from the previous day. With a quick glance around the room, she found one of Dustfinger's shirts lying on top of a chair. She snatched it up and exited the room, her shirt balled up in her hands.

In the kitchen, there was the promised coffee. Meggie filled up a mug and sat. Images from her nightmare flooded her head again; she pushed them away.

A few minutes passed before Dustfinger appeared once more, clicking off the phone. He gave Meggie a once over before clearing his throat. She suppressed a grin, figuring the sight of her in one of his shirts was affecting him.

"That was your parents," he announced, leaning on the counter a safe distance away from her.

Meggie just nodded, sipping her coffee.

"They'll be home tomorrow afternoon sometime; the storm held them up, apparently." Dustfinger seemed to be looking anywhere but her.

With another nod, Meggie stood from the table and began to rummage for breakfast. "They're all right, though, yes?" she asked as she opened the fridge. Maybe eggs...

Dustfinger made a noise of affirmation. "Yes, your father said they stopped in time to miss the worst of it."

"Good. Have you eaten?" She cast a glance over her shoulder to the older man. He was still studiously avoiding looking at her.

"Not yet," he answered quietly, sipping his coffee.

Meggie set the eggs next to the stove and went for a pan which just so happened to be in the cupboard beside Dustfinger. She stopped in front of him, fixing her gaze on him. "Hey," she said quietly, stepping closer into his space. "Dustfinger." He still wouldn't look at her. "Dustfinger, please." Dread set in; did he regret last night? Was he going to leave for her entire holiday to avoid the awkwardness?

Slowly, she reached out, touching his arm. When he didn't flinch - or make any move whatsoever - Meggie wrapped her fingers around his bicep, squeezing. "Look at me, please, Dustfinger," she whispered, tilting her head to try to meet his eyes.

It took a little more coaxing but Dustfinger finally met her gaze. There was a hint of guilt in his eyes which he masked quickly.

"About last night," Meggie began, trailing her hand down to his, "you're not...you're not upset, are you?" She forced the words out of her mouth, almost unwilling to hear the answer. She had to, though.

There was a long pause in which they just looked at each other before Dustfinger finally shook his head. "No," he answered at last. "No, I'm not upset."

Meggie breathed a sigh of relief, smiling a little. "Then what's wrong?" she asked, leaning in a little closer.

Dustfinger turned his gaze away once more, an expert at avoiding situations - unless it was Meggie. Then he was hopeless. Meggie knew this, and she had a tendency to take advantage of it. He let out a small breath before shutting his eyes. "I was just concerned you would regret it," he offered, still not meeting her eyes.

He was lying. At least, he wasn't telling the whole truth. Meggie dropped his hand and took a step away. "Of course not," she replied easily, smiling at him. "I told you, it was something I'd thought about for a very long time." Still, she frowned slightly as she reached for a frying pan. Granted, she was keeping something from him, but she intended to tell him. After breakfast. Meggie had no idea when or if Dustfinger would ever tell her what was on his mind currently.

There was silence as Meggie went about preparing her omelette. It was only when she was watching the changing consistency that she felt Dustfinger's arms slip around her waist. She let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding and leant back against his chest. Dustfinger pressed his face into her hair, breathing deeply. Meggie smiled.

"I'm sorry," Dustfinger said softly after a few moments.

Meggie carefully flipped the omelette into a tri-fold. "About what?" she asked, slightly absent minded.

"I didn't know I was your first." His voice was quiet, barely audible even so close to her ear. "I would have done something to make it easier on you."

She paused in her actions for a moment before flipping the omelette over. "Oh," she said softly. "Well." She cleared her throat. "I've...heard it always hurts the first time, no matter what." It was Meggie's turn to be quiet now.

Wordlessly, she slid her omelette onto a plate. "Do you want one?" she asked, turning her head to glance at Dustfinger. She felt rather than heard him nod his head.

"Sure."

Silence, but a comfortable one, settled between them as Meggie prepared a second omelette. Dustfinger fed her bites of hers rather than let it go cold. Within a few more minutes, they were both seated at the table, laughing as Meggie recalled a few stories from university for Dustfinger.

"And then she looked up at him and asked, 'But why do the ponies have to be aquamarine?'" Meggie managed over a bout of laughter.

Dustfinger chuckled. "In her sleep?" he asked.

Meggie nodded. "In her sleep!" she confirmed.

"Must have been some dream," he commented, grinning.

Meggie, who had stood to gather their plates, stiffened for a moment. She quickly recovered, flashing a smile at Dustfinger, and placed their plates in the sink. When she sat down again, Dustfinger had a steely expression on his face. Meggie sighed, resigned.

"What's wrong?" he asked, determination to find out in his voice.

Meggie looked down at the table, pushing a few crumbs around the surface. Then she reached for the carafe of juice in the center of the table and refilled her glass. Beads of condensation dripped onto the table.

"I had a nightmare," she answered, starting with the easiest bit first.

Dustfinger was silent for a few moments before pressing for more details. "About...?" Nightmares were nothing new to them; Dustfinger had them multiple times a week. He dreamt of Capricorn, of Basta's knife, and many other horrible things. He knew Meggie also had them from time to time, less frequent as the years increased between Capricorn's ordeal and now.

Meggie frowned more. "So I met this guy at uni," she began, pausing as she heard Dustfinger's very quiet but still sharp intake of breath. "Trevor. Very nice, opened doors for me, all that. We kind of dated for a few weeks near the end of term. But we broke up." She paused, continuing to trail her fingers through the condensation on the table.

When a few moments of silence passed between them, Dustfinger urged her to continue. "Why did you break up?" he asked.

Stalling, Meggie shrugged. "He...got pushy about certain things," she told him. "I didn't want to do certain things with him, he wanted to do things with me." This time, she looked up when she heard Dustfinger's breath catch. "I told him no, he broke up with me." Absently, Meggie rubbed her cheek, feeling the sting of his slap again. "I was all right with that because term was almost over, and we were starting exams." She paused again, placing both hands in her lap.

"So, it's about three weeks before I come home and I start getting these phone calls on my mobile. It's a number I don't recognize. Whenever I answered, there would be nothing and then a click as it disconnected." Meggie looked up at Dustfinger to gauge his reaction. His face was a little red in annoyance; he already knew where this was going. With another shrug, Meggie continued, "After a few days of that, he started announcing himself as the caller. I tried to talk to him the first few times, remind him that he broke up with me, why we broke up in the first place. He wouldn't listen. Eventually I started just hanging up on him or ignoring the calls altogether. One day I saw him following me home."

Dustfinger reached out and took her hand. He remained silent.

"I ignored him at first until I started seeing him everywhere I went. He waited for me outside of class, places I went with my friends; he even showed up outside of my dorm multiple occasions." Meggie paused, taking a deep breath. "I was scared. I was more than scared. What I felt was close to all those years ago, Dustfinger, when we were running from Capricorn." She shuddered at the memory. "I started taking friends with me everywhere I went. I was afraid to be by myself anywhere.

"Finally, just a few days ago, I was packing up my things in my dorm. My friend Janie had gone down the hall for drinks, was only going to be gone a few minutes. But Trevor showed up. He pushed my into my dorm and started to kiss me." Meggie shuddered, reliving the moment. "I tried to fight him off, but he was so much stronger. He pushed me on the couch and his hands were all over me."

Dustfinger squeezed her hand, bringing her out of the memory for a moment. "Meggie." His voice was firm, an anchor to now.

Still, Meggie was pulled back under into her memories. "I thought it was too late when Janie appeared with something and hit him with it. It's a bit foggy what happened after that, but he left and Janie took me to campus police." She paused, finally looking up at Dustfinger again. "That's why they sent me home early, Dustfinger."

He didn't say a word. He just pulled her into his arms, resting her head on his chest.

Meggie felt her body tense up at first, the initial feeling of being pulled against him a little startling. As she relaxed, she felt her eyes well with tears. Quiet sobs wracked her body as she nestled into Dustfinger's arms, pressing her face against his neck.

"I was so scared, Dustfinger," she cried, fingers clenching in his shirt. "So scared. I still am."

Dustfinger was making soothing noises as he caressed her back, fingers running up and down slowly. "It's all right, sweet one," he murmured to her, lips pressing into her hair. "You're safe now. Nothing and no one can hurt you while I'm around."

That night, they slept in Meggie's bigger, queen sized bed. Dustfinger felt slightly awkward as he slid under the blankets. His tension melted away only slightly as he felt Meggie curl up beside him, head nestled beneath his chin. Hesitantly, he slipped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer. It was an odd feeling to crave the proximity of another, the need for them to be close almost overwhelming.

Dustfinger let out a slow breath, relaxing to the sound of Meggie's soft breathing, the feeling of her hand on his chest. He tipped his head forward to press a kiss to her hair, thinking she was already asleep. When he lay his head back down, Meggie turned her face to look at him, a small smile on her lips.

Her look turned slightly hesitant as she said, "If...if this is too weird for you," she paused, "you don't have to stay up here, if you don't want to." She turned her eyes down, apparently slightly embarrassed. Or frightened.

Gently, Dustfinger lifted her chin, bringing her gaze to his. "Nonsense," he said firmly. "I'm happy to be here, keeping you safe." He pressed his lips against hers. That was still something to adjust to. Meggie seemed to want something with him; she hadn't refused any of his small advances and had also initiated some of her own throughout the day.

Meggie smiled up at him. "Thank you," she murmured, shifting closer. "I mean it." She kissed him again.

When Meggie pulled away from the kiss, their eyes met; Dustfinger felt the air between them begin to sizzle. Slowly, he leaned forward, meeting Meggie's lips again. No time was wasted before their lips parted and tongues battled for dominance. He heard Meggie whimper slightly as his fingers pressed into her back, pulling her closer against him until she was practically laying atop him. His other hand tangled into her hair, nails scraping her scalp. Meggie's hands were trailing up and down his sides, alternating between light touches and firm caresses.

As they broke for air, they also broke to remove clothing. There was no jesting to convince themselves or each other they didn't want this. Meggie pulled off her nightshirt and underclothes, tossing them aside. Dustfinger slid out of his bottoms then pulled her on top of him again. He groaned at the feeling of her skin on his.

He was hard. He'd been slightly aroused most of the day, between his own thoughts and Meggie's stolen glances and kisses. Now, though, he was achingly hard and he needed her. He broke away from the kiss, starting to flip them over when Meggie shook her head.

"Let me," she offered shyly, cheeks aflame.

Dustfinger just nodded, struck mute as he watched her shift until she was straddling his hips. Her breasts, small but pert, bounced slightly as she moved. As her hand closed around his near painfully hard member, he moaned, unable to hold back the sound. She worked her hand up and down him for a few moments before she was moving again, lifting herself over him. As he felt her warmth over his tip, he tensed in anticipation. They moaned simultaneously as she slid onto him until he was fully sheathed within her.

Meggie began to move over him, rocking her hips back and forth slowly. The movement was awkward, unpracticed. Dustfinger found it endearing and arousing at the same time. His hands went to her hips, guiding her movements gently until she found a rhythm that suited them both. Dustfinger choked on a groan when she began to speed up. He could tell by the sounds she was making that she was near her climax. The soft, quiet cries she made brought him closer to the edge; the knowledge that he was the reason behind her pleasure caused his arousal to skyrocket.

When Meggie came, Dustfinger had to catch her before she fell forward onto him. Shudders wracked her body as she rode out her pleasure. He chuckled as she finally fell limp against him.

Carefully, he flipped them, staying inside her as he moved. Dustfinger pressed one hand onto the pillow beneath her head, shifting for the right angle. He bent his head to press his lips to hers, enjoying the way she clung to him, the way she mewled his name.

As he began to move, slowly thrusting in and out of her, Dustfinger strove for his climax. It didn't take long, what with Meggie's soft gasps in his ear or her fingers raking down his back. He came with a grunt, her name quickly following. Stars flashed before his eyes for a moment before he laid to one side, avoiding crushing Meggie.

He was breathing heavily, as was she. Dustfinger brushed his fingers through Meggie's hair idly as she cuddled against his chest. She was tracing patterns on his chest. The motion, combined with the post-coital exhaustion, was enough to lull him just to the edge of sleep. He felt Meggie dropping off, too, as her patterns became slower on his skin. He felt sleep claiming him at last when she said it.

"I love you."