"Here you are, Your Highness," the servant curtsied, gesturing toward the door where the two guards were stationed. Kalera then turned and scuttled back down the hall from where she came.
The guards pushed open the doors, allowing the Princess inside. Cassandra entered cautiously, stepping softly on the floor and holding her head as she had practiced so many times with her governess.
"There you are Cassandra," her father said tersely. "Sit."
In a pair of chairs sat her two parents, her mother appearing so delicate and beautiful, and her father imposing and regal like a fierce lion. Cassandra stepped before the sofa across from their seats, curstying briefly before she set herself down.
"I understand you have been spending much time with young Sir Giddeon, the Duke of Lycroft," King Howard began suddenly, jumping straight in. His voice was thick and accusatory, and it made Cassandra stiffen, as if preparing for a series of blows.
"Um....I suppose so, Father,"
"Your behavior with him needs to cease," he continued.
"Excuse me?" she blinked, shocked. "What?"
"Dearest," the Queen attempted to interject. "He...we cannot have it seen, appear that--,"
The King's voice rose, standing on his feet. "You cannot carry on any sort of affair with this man. I have worked to hold to my promise over these years, our end of the deal. And I cannot have you messing it up with your reckless, immature actions!"
Cassandra felt blown back, stunned. She suddenly felt defensive, like a cornered animal frightened for its life. "I have not carried on any sort of affair with the Duke of Lycroft. I find his company pleasing and nothing more then that. How can you think that!" she stood as well, emboldened as she defended herself and felt fury build in her chest. You have worked to hold to your promise over the years! You...argh! thought Cassandra, wanting to scream it out in his face. He had commited her to a man as a day-old, and he worked to hold on to his promise! She was the one to feel the consequences of his 'promise'.
"You have no right to speak to me like that, child!" shouted her father, his voice almost shaking the room. Elitha came to his side, putting her hand on his arm. "No! We must keep her on her path, Elitha! You cannot always treat her like a helpless baby. If you do not obey these words and refrain yourself from Sir Giddeon, Cassandra, I shall have to begin to restrict you."
Cassandra wavered, her throat burning and her tears tugging at her eyes. The want to cry was so tempting, yet there was something in her that wanted to hold out her chest, hold up her head, and appear strong.
"Please bring in the Duke of Lycroft, please," commanded the King, not looking to the face of his daughter. Cassandra breathed in sharply, suddenly anxious. She did her best to contain her tears and mantain her expression, though she felt like she couldn't hold out for much longer.
It did not take long for Giddeon to enter, his strong, dashing figure coming into the room with a bland, blank look on his face. He glanced to Cassandra for a moment, the two catching eyes, but as briskly as he turned his eyes upon her, he turned them away, almost trying to ignore her. He saw the tears there and wondered what had already been said.
"Sir Giddeon, you have spent much time with my daughter, is that correct?"
"Yes, Your Majesty," he answered slowly.
"You must well know not to defame or provoke her in any fashion, being the cousin of her betrothed and son of your nation, yes?" her father's voice was steadily rising, becoming extremely intimidating.
"Yes, Your Majesty," Giddeon mantained his coolness.
"Well?" the King raised a threatening eyebrow at the Duke and at the Princess. "Has there been anything? Answer truthfullly, or I may have to ban you from this court."
"No, there is nothing, Your Majesty," he replied methodically. "Honestly, I feel naught for your daughter excepting of what a servant feels to his respective King or Queen. As of current, I am serving my Prince and Cousin in the respect of learning of his Queen in his place, and therefore serving my Prince, your Princess, and my Nation, Sire." A slight expression of anger entered his voice as he continued, "Though I will not linger where I am suspect of such a wrong-doing, nor will I stand for any disdainful rumor, even from yourself, Your Majesty. You will not have to ban me from your court no matter your thoughts on the outcome, as I shall be making my departure for Navarn as early as possible--at the first light tomorrow morning."
Cassandra gaped at Giddeon in shock, feeling a sudden overwhelming emotion of sadness and frustration. He turned an eye upon her, half giving her a stern expression in reminding her to calm herself. Before anything was seen by her father, he bowed deeply to all in the room, "If you shall excuse me, Your Majesties, I must begin packing my things."
The King nodded tensly, his jaw tight. Cassandra did not watch him go, only hearing the footsteps and the open and close of the door as he made his exit.
"Now, leave," ordered King Howardm roughly as if she was one of his mere advisors, or not even that. With a wave of his hand, he looked away from her face. Her mother gave something of a sympathic look, but Cassandra did not acknowledge it, bowing once more before her parents before leaving as quickly as her feet could carry her