Title: The Purloined Heart
Author: almaviva (Dani)
Summary: Danger, romance, and a grand finale.
Notes: AU. Indeterminate time and space, so about as reliable for historical accuracy as wikipedia. My iTunes account says I listened to Han Zimmer's "Wheel of Fortune" 20 times while writing this.
Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction, which means that while the characters depicted are based on public personas of real celebrities, the events described in the story never happened. This story in no way claims to represent the truth about the people mentioned within or the way they would behave.
The market is bright and full of people, a shock after the dark stillness of the queen's chambers. Dominic clutches at the golden necklace hidden beneath his tattered tunic and blinks, squints down the alley and into the late afternoon sun. Ahead are the tall walls and heavy iron gates that protect the city, open at this time of day but still strongly guarded by the king's soldiers. He'd thinks--as much as he's given any thought to this venture--that at the gloaming he can slip past with the farmers and others who live beyond the walls. Perhaps his little adventure will go completely unnoticed, if he's lucky, until morning when the necklace will surely be missed.
Or, perhaps not. The ringing call of thief seemed to be coming from every direction and Dominic, panicked now, runs. The purloining of the queen's jewel-encrusted necklace--an act of malice against the king--was meant to win his father's favor, not cost him his life. Now, as he runs along the cobbled street, his bare feet covered in mud and muck, it seems a rather stupid and childish thing to have done. In his fear, he makes blind turns through the maze of alleys, avoiding the large, open market he had hoped would be his refuge, sensing it could become his prison.
Away from the market, the village is quieter but there are fewer places to hide--less people with which to blend. Dominic slows his step if not his heart and keeps to the shadows. Every step seems to take him further from safety as he creeps along. He knows that as soon as the sun is down, he'll be trapped and so makes up his mind to run again, this time towards freedom. But he only makes it a few steps forward before he slams into another body as they both round a corner and fall together into a heap, the necklace jangling as it falls onto the street.
"Idiot!" The other man spits out as he attempts to untangle himself from Dominic but Dominic is stretching for the necklace, desperate to have it back. He pulls his leg from beneath the man's body, grabs his prize then tucks it back beneath his shirt.
"It's the thief!"
"Shite!" The curse falls from both their lips at the same time and they turn from the two guards at the end of the street and towards each other. Dominic's eyes are wide, still in the throes of his panic, but the other man's are bright--sparkling, as if this was all some kind of sport--and his lips twist into something that resembles a grin.
"Perhaps it's not me they're after then. They'll kill you if they catch you," he says, finally extracting himself and standing. He doffs his shapeless hat to Dominic and turns to escape. "You should take care that they don't."
The guards, sure they'll catch their prey, move slowly down the street, calling jeers. Dominic knows more will come and that they'll imprison him if he survives the capture. He makes a decision and immediately suspects it's another bad one. "Please," he says and stretches his hand out as if to beg. "Let me come with you."
"I'll expect payment."
Dominic quickly nods in agreement, looking once over his shoulder to the approaching guards, then scrambles to his feet, expecting to fight. Instead, he finds himself on his back again and they're rolling into the sewer. The fall seems to take forever before they land with a splash. High above them, Dominic can hear the irritated guards, angry at having been fooled, but he hardly cares. The knowledge that he's safe, at least for the moment, forces itself through the blossoming pain in his back and shoulder as fights for breath. It's some moments before he can speak. "How long are we safe?"
"If we stay here? Not for long but we'll be safe enough soon." The man stands and offers his hand. "My name is Billy Boyd. You're in the realm of the thieves now."
Hours later and miles beneath the city, Dominic no longer minds the muck on his feet. He's cold, sopped through with what he doesn't want to consider--a little grime seems irrelevant at this point. It's dark and dank, the air stale and though Dominic can't see it, he knows they are following an underground stream that had started as just a trickle but now raises to above their knees. Boyd is just ahead of him, leading Dominic as the water grows deeper.
"Can you swim," Boyd finally asks and Dominic is startled, surprised to hear a voice after so long in the quiet.
"Not well," he says.
"Then you'll need to hold onto me. Ready?" Boyd asks but doesn't give Dominic time to answer before dunking them both beneath the frigid water, letting it carry them further inside the caves. Dominic's lungs burn as he struggles once more with his panic. Boyd holds him tightly around the waist and Dominic clings to his shirt with what strength he has left. Just when he thinks he can't make it any further, they break the surface both gasping for air.
Boyd tugs Dominic closer to the shore until Dominic can feel rock beneath his feet. Climbing out of the water, he flops onto his back, his chest heaving--sputtering for breath. Above him the cave glows oddly with a strange light that Dominic mistakes for stars until he realizes they're still under the ground. "What causes the light," he whispers, awed but not expecting to receive an answer.
"Glow worms." Boyd walks out of the water and sits upon a rock. Dominic watches him in the dim light take off one boot and then the other, emptying them of water.
"Do you live down here?"
"No. I make my home in the woods but we thieves, we know our way through the caves and beneath the city."
"Thieves. There are more like you?"
"Many. You'll not see them unless they want you to, though." Boyd shoves his boots back onto his feet and stands, his hands on his hips as he stares down at Dominic.
It's only now that Dominic thinks of the necklace and searches for it. Finding it safe, he relaxes, wants to laugh at his escape--at Boyd's maddening bravery and his own stupidity. The queen's face suddenly comes to him, of her simpering little smile and how easily she was brought to her knees, begging Dominic to put his dirty hands on her--believing him to be one of the gardeners. He'd left her room quietly as she slept, with the necklace, covered in gems and bearing the Dominic's family coat of arms, removed from her neck. He imagines her waking and finding it gone, raising an alarm without perhaps thinking of how she would explain its disappearance--a disappearance that would not go unnoticed.
"You look pleased with yourself," Boyd says, suddenly appearing over Dominic, their faces very close together. "Tell me your name and then maybe why those guards were so interested in yourself."
"I'm called Dominic, and maybe they were more interested in you."
"Ah. You might be right, young Dominic. I'll obviously admit my thievery. The wallets of the gentry as they were shopping. Just a bit of sport." Boyd straddles Dominic's body, his small hands sliding beneath Dominic's tunic. "You seemed to be after more than wallets. What's this then?"
Boyd draws out the necklace and holds it to the light. Whistles softly. "Definitely more than wallets, I think."
"It belonged to my family long before the king took it."
"And you've taken it back. Is that all you have?"
"It's all I need. I took it from the queen and plan to restore it to my father."
"From the queen herself. I bet that was no trick. It's no secret she likes young lads." Boyd's hands still move beneath Dominic's shirt, less searching for stolen goods now than drawing shivers from Dominic. "The king doesn't take kindly to thieves."
"You said you were a thief, too." Boyd's nimble fingers are warm against Dominic's wet skin and Dominic finds he's in no hurry to have them move away. "Are you going to steal back my necklace?"
"No, lad." Boyd puts the necklace, unclasped, around Dominic's neck and then slides his hands back beneath his tunic. "We have rules as well."
"Honor among thieves."
"Of course. But you still owe me payment for helping you escape."
Dominic had heard stories of a thieves' guild, cautionary tales that he had never believed but his nanny had told him to keep him in line. Boyd looks nothing like the monster his nanny had concocted though he does look quite wicked at the moment and stronger than Dominic would have thought. "I have nothing else of value to give."
"I can maybe think of something." Boyd moves his leg to between Dominic's, balancing himself on one arm. "What if I decide to take you to my lair and keep you there for ransom? What would your father give me to have you back?"
"Then what would you give me of yourself to be set free?"
Several answers come to Dominic all at once and he can see them all reflected in Boyd's eyes. Boyd's hand have slipped beneath the waist of his trousers and Dominic arches into his hand. Boyd laughs, the sound low and quiet as he strokes down the length of Dominic's cock. Dominic, growling at the sound of Boyd's laughter, threads his fingers through Boyd's hair and pulls him down, stealing a kiss. Boyd fights him for only a moment--surprised--before he opens his lips to take the kiss harder--deeper. So involved with each other are they that Billy barely has time to roll off Dominic and dive back into the water before the guards are upon them.
"Run!" Boyd yells, but it's too late. Dominic, too confused at first to move quickly, and then, recognizing the danger, slips on the wet rock. Boyd is further out into the water, beckoning, before he disappears and is gone, leaving Dominic to the guards.
Caught. Dominic supposes that he's lucky to have survived the capture. He hadn't believed he would. Days later and he is still sore, though alive. The necklace is gone, of course, and Boyd has escaped as well. Dominic tries not to think of either one--the necklace because it would have meant restoring his father's pride and Dominic's place in the family, and Boyd because... Actually, in the long hours curled in his cell, unable to sleep for the cold and the pain, he thinks of their shared kiss--of Boyd's hands searching beneath his tunic. Of what might have happened if they hadn't been caught.
These are his thoughts as he slowly becomes aware of a tapping sound in the floor nearest his feet. He rolls slowly to his side, listening, daring to tap back. Through the long night he tries to loosen the mortar between the flagstones on the floor then pry them loose with his bloodied fingers. It nearly dawn before he sees Boyd's dirty face as he attempts to push his shoulders through the hole he's made.
"Quickly, Dominic," he says, pushing dirt and rock from the hole and reaching for Dominic. "They've set the gallows for you. You're to die at dawn."
"If they catch you here, you'll join me."
"Then let us go." Boyd takes hold of Dominic's tunic and urges him forward. They can both hear the sounds of the prison as day begins to break on the horizon. "They'll come for you soon."
Dominic nods and eases his way into the opening Boyd's created. It's tiny and Dominic fears that the walls will collapse on them both or that the guards will be lying in wait for them as they had in the caves. Soon, they are far enough along the tunnel that they can no longer hear the sounds of the prison as they move along in the dark. Surely, his escape has been discovered and he can't help but think of what must be happening.
Boyd encourages him on with a hand to his back until they can both see a light--daylight. "It's not far now."
"Are we still in the city?"
Boyd doesn't answer him but then they are at the end, a grating with the bars pulled loose and barely resting in place. Ahead of them is the market, the steady stream of feet and hooves showing that they are on a main street.
"We can wait until night again," Boyd whispers. "Or we can just make a break for it now."
"We'll be caught if we go now."
"I think we'll be caught if we don't. They'll be behind us, Dominic. The walls are very near. We won't go through the gate as they're probably closed now anyway." Boyd puts his hands on Dominic's shoulders and pulls him back against him, his hands searching as they had in the cave. "You can't swim. How well can you climb?"
"I'm not fond of heights but I'm willing to give it a go." Boyd's laugh is the familiar low rumble and Dominic longs suddenly to hear it when they're in the open--when it can ring loud and clear like a bell. "Let's go then," Dominic says, his fears put aside.
"Let's go," Boyd repeats, nodding his head once before surging ahead.
Like he had in the caves, Boyd doesn't wait for Dominic to gather himself but this time Dominic is prepared. Dominic finds his hand caught in Boyd's as they run through the streets, overturning carts and farmers stalls in their wake. The guards are on them at once but Boyd's steps are sure and they reach the wall first and begin to climb the ropes Boyd had left for them. The marketplace is chaos and it seems to slow down the guards though Dominic doesn't look back to see how or why. Soon they're up and over the walls, flipping the ropes to ease their ways before dropping into the moat and swimming their way to shore.
Arrows barely missing them as they run across the bare lawn that separates the moat from the woods and Dominic prepares himself for the shock of pain that will come if one hits its mark. But it never happens. They're free, running through the woods, surely to be chased but not now--not when they are in territory protected by the thieves.
Soon, Boyd slows their pace and Dominic finally collapses onto his back in a clearing in the woods.
"You'll be able to return to your family now," Boyd says once Dominic has recovered his breath. He leans against a tree, looking almost as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened that morning. "I can lead you mostly there."
"I thought you had decided to keep me."
For a moment, Boyd seems to be consider it, his eyes raking over Dominic's body. "You're young, still," he finally says, nodding at his decision. "This isn't a good life for you. Go back to your family."
"I have no family."
"You're a Monaghan," Boyd says, taking his dirk in hand as he leans over Dominic. With anyone else, Dominic may have worried that his life was in danger, but now--with Boyd--Dominic tucks his hands beneath his head and grins. Boyd sits back on his heels and tucks his knife away, knowing that Dominic doesn't believe its threat. "You've family that could have paid your ransom twice over rather than have me risk my life."
"But you did decide to take the risk. If they would have caught you--"
"I know what they would have done."
"Yet, you still came for me." They stare, each challenging the other and this time, Dominic doesn't back down until Boyd nods once, his decision made.
"The king still has something that belongs to you," Boyd says as he stands and offers his hand, grinning when Dominic clasps it in his.
"To us both," Dominic answers.