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Return to Her Rooms.

He came to a sudden halt at the foot of the stairs, his hurried descent and escape temporarily aborted. Until now all he thought about was keeping control of himself, of not allowing his craving to get the better of him.

He had not thought about Diana, about how she would feel about the kiss she had just given him. He had promised not to harm her, yet by refusing to return the gesture and hurrying downstairs from her rooms soon afterwards, he had.

There were too many concerns for him to handle all at once. His craving for her, their burgeoning feelings for each other, the threat of the congregation, the threats from Peter Knox and probably his brother Baldwin when he learned of the matter, as he doubtless soon would, for he, like Peter Knox, had a seat on the congregation. The discovery of Ashmole 782 and all those creatures, vampires, witches and demons alike who were interested in acquiring it. The nature of Diana's powers, which he suspected would put her in more danger, even though he believed she should be encouraged to use them more freely. The concerns of Mariam and Marcus, who only had suspicion of what his intentions towards Diana were, beyond the obtaining of the Book of Life, as he had yet to confide in them what he really felt. The concerns of Hamish, who was advising caution and warning about what had happened the last time he got involved with a warmblood.

Yet all of those were no excuse for his behaviour just now.

He turned back and just as hurriedly as he had descended now he ascended, his hand pushing her door open before he was aware of it.

Diana was clearing away their dinner, her expression a clear indication of the harm he had caused.

She looked up and gasped at the sight of him, making him wonder if she had worried that her kiss would cause him to avoid her for a time, possibly for good. He could not blame her if she thought that, he not yet confided in her what he was feeling.

Before she could speak he joined her at the table and took the plates out of her hands, setting them back down. Not wishing to presume, he didn't return her kiss, instead he gently cupped her cheek in his hand.

"I wanted to kiss you," he began softly, his thumb slowly rubbing her cheek. "But I was barely in control of myself and I promised that I would not hurt you. Yet in doing so, I broke my promise anyway. I should not have left so abruptly, so rudely and I apologise for that."

"Is that the only reason?" she asked him quietly.

"No," he answered. "It is probably too late for caution, after all Peter Knox knows that you invited me to dinner, but if you still want to explore this desire we have for each other, you should know that we'll be breaking the covenant, a rule that was set down to prevent cross species mating, which will put us and those who are connected to us in more danger than we are already."

"I didn't know about the covenant," she admitted. "But now that I do, it doesn't matter. Why should we allow a rule set down hundreds of years ago by a bunch of narrow minded creatures, decide whom we love?"

"I never questioned the rules set down by the congregation until we met," he added. "I didn't think it was possible for a vampire to fall in love with a witch. That's why I believed I only craved you when we first met. It wasn't until I kissed your wrist that I realised what I truly felt. But if we pursue this, there is no turning back. And we will have a hell of a fight ahead of us."

"We already have a battle because of Ashmole 782," she pointed out. "What is one more? Which Peter Knox already presumes is true anyway."

She was right. Despite all his attempts to protect her, it was too late to deny their relationship. No one would believe them, not in the face of Peter Knox. Even if he asked his friends, family and colleagues to do so, all of them would privately doubt their assurances that nothing had happened between them. Mariam had proved that when she confronted him outside by the flower seller.

Besides, there was something else, a thought which had been lingering inside him ever since he first set eyes on her, one which grew when he first sought out her scent. Ancient things previously forgotten. She was no stranger to him. Her scent was familiar. From where or more properly from when he did not know. It was yet something else which they needed time to find out. Time that no one would give them if they strove to respect the rules laid out by the congregation. Even if they gave up the book, which he was not prepared to do, not to Peter Knox, or his brother, or the congregation, they would not be allowed to learn more about the connection between them. Privately he doubted that they would be allowed to survive if they did retrieve the book and handed it over to the congregation. His brother's protection, if protection Baldwin would be willing to give, only ran so far.

Putting all of those concerns aside, he concentrated on the woman before him. Stroking her cheek, he leant forward and tenderly kissed her lips. After a little hesitation she responded and he in turn did everything he could to assure her that this time her overtures were not in vain. He let her scent infiltrate his senses, keeping himself in check as best he could while exploring the delights of her mouth. It was just as intoxicating as when he first caught her scent down by the river that night when he picked up her sweater.

Diana wanted more of him, he could feel her hunger and desire as she ran her hands over him. When she began undoing the buttons on his shirt, he felt another note of caution was warranted.

He briefly pulled his lips away from hers. "You may not like what you see," he warned, feeling self conscious in the face of her beauty.

Diana reached up and cupped his face, her expression silently telling him to let her be the judge of that.

He let her continue, lending a hand by undoing his cuffs, then moving his arms so she could pull the garment off him more easily.

Her expression changed as soon as she caught sight of the many scars that littered his chest and back. He heard her intake of breath as she surveyed him carefully, her fingers gently touching each one she caught sight of.

When she uttered another exhalation as he realised that she had seen the one that almost dominated his back, he offered up an explanation.

"That was made with the tip of a broadsword during the Hundred Years War."

He felt her kiss it. "I want to hunt down everyone who ever harmed you," she declared, sounding like the goddess she was named after.

He caught sight of her as she came to stand before him once more, her fierce expression that accompanied her last words a testament to her bravery. He leant forward to kiss her once more.

Wrapped up in their kiss, they walked towards her bed, breaking their embrace when they fell upon the duvet. His mouth left hers to begin a trail down her skin as his hands came to undo her shirt. He kissed each particle of skin as it was revealed to him, licking and nipping the parts he knew would arouse her desire even further.

As he reached her trousers he pulled the shirt out before setting about undoing them as well. She lifted her hips to aid him in freeing her of the former; with a sharp yank he pulled them down, taking her pants as well and tossed them both aside. He glanced up at her as settled between her thighs, pausing to make sure he had her consent before he went down on her.

She nodded and he pressed a kiss to the skin of each of her thighs before he began, using his heightened senses to determine what she liked the most. He kept his gaze on her as he blew and hummed and groaned and mouthed and licked and nipped and sucked at her, watching the pleasure grow within her eyes and travel across her body. She writhed and moaned in response to his motions, her hands grasping the duvet beneath them.

He brought her to peak first with just his mouth and then again with his fingers as well, before kissing a path back up to her lips. When he broke from them, he settled beside her, half embracing with his arms and legs.

When she began to move to try to take things further, he gently stopped her. "Not yet, I don't think either of us are ready for that yet." he said softly. "Also, I am catholic," he added lightly.

"That was catholic restraint?" she queried, eyebrows raised.
"Or bundling," he offered.

"I don't think that was bundling," she informed him.

"Well, it is in France," he countered, making her laugh.

"At least allow me to return the gesture," she proposed.

"Only if you wish to," he accepted.

Aside from her name, the next words to fall from his lips after that were only in French.