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all that dazzling dawn has put asunder

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Leto insisted she consider his room theirs after he’d woken to find her standing before the great wall of windows, looking out at the rough sea with his heavy woolen banyan wrapped around her, the hem pooled around her bare feet, the collar slipping off her shoulders.

“The robe is yours as well,” he said, seemingly unconcerned by the chill in the air though the bed linens had fallen to his waist.

“No, I can’t—”

“You’re right,” he interrupted. “You should have one of your own, made to suit you, velvet-lined with a marten collar and cuffs, warm enough for daybreak, soft enough to wear against your skin.”

“I don’t need anything so opulent, so grand,” Jessica said. “Not the robe, nor the quarters.”

“You don’t want to stay?” he asked. “You needn’t, I only thought you look like you belong here, but you aren’t to be compelled—”

“I want to stay,” she said. “I don’t want to presume, I’m only a concubine. I know my place.”

“You are not only anything, Jessica,” he said, with a hint of the ferocity he must bring to battle; Atreides was a House whose fighting men were feared throughout the Imperium, none could be more fierce than their commander. “And I would be more fortunate than I’ve any right to be if you accepted that in the known Universe, your place is beside me. Wherever I go, wherever I find myself, wherever I am called—”

Whither ever shalt thou go, shall I go,” she quoted. “I did not think Atreides was a House so devout.”

“I had Orpheus and Eurydice in mind, but Ruth is also apt,” he said. When she was told she would be bound to the Duke of Atreides, she had not imagined she would ever find herself engaged in scriptural repartee, nor that it could occur while the Duke lay naked in his bed, unconscionably handsome and completely intent upon her. “I trust you will not reveal something so heretical to the Reverend Mother when next you meet.”

“I would not break your confidence, milord,” she said. She did not say, the Reverend Mother has no interest in me beyond bearing you a daughter and would only call an audience to remind me of my primary use to the Sisterhood. She did not say, the player does not consult the pawn, nor thank it for its sacrifice. It was enough that he would see her as one who would be called in audience to the leader of the Bene Gesserit, truth-sayer to the Emperor.

“Leto,” he said. “We have not a marriage of state, but between us, I would not have any distance.”

“Then tell me, will you come to me or shall I come to you?” she said.

“This time, come to me, neshama. Come back to our bed and let me make sure you’re warm,” he said, giving her a slow, sweet smile that altered into something darker, almost desperate as she let his robe fall from her shoulders and walked back to the bed with the same measured gait she’d used for their binding.

“You walked just like that when we first met,” he said. “I did not think you had such coquetry in you, to make me wait—”

“I wanted to see what it looked like,” she said softly.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“When you watched me come to you, knowing who I am,” she said, getting to the edge of the bed and letting him reach out to draw her to him. “What would be in your eyes instead of duty and etiquette, the honor due institutions. When you just saw me.”