Chapter 25

Her fist was jammed in her cheek, resting her elbow against the sill as she gazed out the window and over the scene of the palace grounds. Her mind lingered on the letters she received--Alezander's. The Prince's were increasingly short, while her thoughts too remained more on Giddeon and his extensive, amusing conversation, and the friendly company he provided her day after day for the past few months. She didn't bother inquiring to Giddeon why Alezander's were becoming so few and so short over the time; she almost forgot about it in Giddeon's presence. She also simply told herself that Navarn was far away, and Alezander was obviously busy as the Crown Prince, perhaps he was under a little further pressure of his position.

"Would you stop sitting in that lazy postion with that glazed look over your face?"

Cassandra shifted slightly, blankly looking to Aedrianna before she retuned her eyes to the window pane. Her other sisters were fluttering over whatever they were talking about.

Below, a flock of gardeners did their dance about the place, trimming bushes, tending flowers, making sure a petal, a leaf was in position. Wide hats shielded their faces from the sun, muscled young men with barren arms and older men with plentiful gardening knowledge reined over their small patch.

Her mother entered the scene, walking slowly. She seemed to drift over the pathways, fragile and delicate like a doll. In such a light, her skin was smooth, pale, white like snow glinting in the sunrays. Her face appeared drawn, and there was something about her that Cassandra did not like.

As they heard the gentle crunch of her footfall, the flock of gardeners scattered out of sight, almost looking to hide behind the flower bushes. The Queen glanced about her, sighing, deflating.  She paced for a moment, back and forth again before collapsing on the nearby bench seat.

Just when she sat down, she stood sharply. From a path walled by great trimmed bush stepped a man, looking like a gardener. Cassandra could not tell his exact facial detail from her perch at the window, much of his face shadowed by his mask. The Queen expression was stricken stunned. They stared at one another, unmoving, as if feeling and words so intense passed between them.

The man stepped forward, reaching for her with an outstretched hand not meant for a Queen and her servant. Cassandra stiffened, nearly standing from her own seat, but kept still. Her mother retracted, averting her eyes, pained. The man looked he had been hurt by her retraction. His lips moved, they formed her name, and once again he made a move for her; tender, soft, affectionate.

She stepped away, her eyes steady on him. She murmured, brushing by him and walking briskly down the pathway from which he had come. With only a moments pause, he followed after her, and both disappeared.

Cassandra quickly excused herself from her siblings, walking down the maze of halls. Stepping out of the palace and out onto the lawn of the garden, the aroma of blooming roses and other blossoming flowers hitting her.

Breath caught in her throat. "Your Highness," Sam abrubtly jumped, turning to face her.

"Sam?" the Princess replied. Her eyes flicked over the girl standing at his side, her own eyes lowered as far as possible, as if trying to hide her face. "Henrietta? Lady Henrietta?"

Still flushed from their kiss, interrupted, her blush deepened quite red, barely looking up from the ground as she curtsied. "Your Highness," she muttered, occupying herself by twisting her silken skirts in great knots.

Cassandra archly raised her eyebrow at Sam, who was turning red himself. " long have you known one another?" she cleared her throat. A certain shock, stun, anger, envy?....within her.  Did he not trust her enough? And Lady Herietta--from court--of all people? How did such a thing happen? 

Sam straightened. "You will tell no one, Cassandra," he whispered, deathly quiet.

She swallowed, letting silence hang in the air briefly. "Alright," Cassandra nodded, inclining her head slightly. The pair bowed deeply in answer. 

Turning on her heel, she continued down the garden pathway, full of thought.


"Mother," the Princess looked up to her mother, who was standing alone before her.

"What are you doing out here?" the Queen replied, halfways appearing anxious, halfways appearing terribly sad. Her face was slightly swollen, her palid cheeks hinted red. It was a curious look that her daughter had never seen before, but her mother would not let her ask about it."Come, let us get something to eat. I am hungry, are you not?"

The End

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