Chapter 4

The King arranged the last of his paperwork, signing several documents with the careless sweep of his hand, leaving his daughter seated in silence for a few more moments. Cassandra shifted slightly, uncomfortable, wondering if he had indeed forgotten her presence.

Finally, he sighed, massaging his temples before he focused his complete attentions upon her. "My," he shook his head. "You have grown."

Cassandra blinked a few times, taken aback. She had never expected those words from her father's lips. "Ex-excuse me, Sir?"

He didn't seem to hear her, rubbing his eyes before spreading his own hands before him. There was something in his current nature that appeared defeated, lost. "How old I am now.  You are a woman and I am but an old man."

Swallowing, she said nothing, puzzled at his stange behavior and unusal babble in the likes she had never heard from him before. Once more did he become quiet, seemingly lost in his own solemn thought. In the faded light, his golden hair appeared grey, his face sagged, the wavering candlelight catching in the deepening creases of his face, his broad body appearing fragile as it sagged into his great leather chair.

"Father, why did you summon me?" Cassandra prodded quietly, still cautious despite his broken facade. It was face of her father she had never witnessed before.

He sat straight, his expression firming, his eyes sharpening. It was as if he suddenly remembered who he was, and who was seated before him. "The world is a hard place. And you are to go out into it. I very simply desired to offer you my best wishes of luck in privacy before your departure."

Is that it? The Princess thought to herself, only more confused. She did not know if she should feel glad that he was showing a slight warmth and care toward her, or if she was to be angry that he spoke to her in such a formal, un-caring way.

"Thank you," Cassandra said quietly, bowing her head.

Her father ran his eyes over her, observing her eyes, her face, her posture, softening slightly. "You have accepted your duty gracefully and you have grown to be a Princess I am proud of. There is no doubt in my mind that you will make a fine Queen."

She blinked a few times, thanking the King once more. Her voice wavered slightly as she spoke, even when she tried as hard as she could to keep in under control. It was hard to tell what the emotion was tugging at her eyes, boiling at her throat, shifting in her heart. He was proud of her.

"You may go now, Cassandra," he nodded his head, cutting off their conversation abruptly. It appeared as soon as he had opened himself to her, offered her something of affection, he cut it off coldly.

Gathering herself, Cassandra stood smoothly and gave a slow, sweeping curtsy. She took a deep breath, turning and leaving her father's chambers.

Still, she was nothing but an asset to his business, his pride only coming from that of her advancement of his kingly endeavors. It wasn't true affection, and she knew it.  

The End

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