Tainted Saint, Chapter Fifty-OneMature

"You're here again?"

At Marcos' accusatory tone, Cassandra immediately wanted to shrink into the corner. Feeling completely out of place, she instinctively took a step behind King Amadeo, almost as though she was hiding behind him.

The King was visibly angered. "Marcos," he said, somehow both tactful and frustrated, "you know where I stand on this issue."

"Where are you going?" Marcos asked, blatantly ignoring his King's statement.

King Amadeo took a deep breath. "We were going to get a drink," he said. "I would appreciate it if you spoke no more of this matter."

"Yes, well, you know where I stand on this issue," Marcos shot back, mirroring King Amadeo's words. "I will not stand aside and watch some - some - wretch steal your heart. She is not fit for castle walls." He was not only angry, Cassandra could see; he was also confused.

Looking from the King to his adviser, Cassandra stepped into the disagreement. "Listen," she said quietly, amazed at how calmly her voice came across, "I see I don't belong here. I can leave." Why did I come here in the first place?

"I worked hard to get you here," the King said, turning to Cassandra. "I'm not going to let you run away again."

Marcos sighed and rolled his eyes.

"They won't understand," Cassandra said, inwardly cursing the way her eyes filled with tears.

"They don't need to understand," King Amadeo said. Then, without taking his eyes from Cassandra's, he said, "Marcos, you are dismissed." Marcos opened his mouth to speak, but the King had already anticipated his protests and continued. "Your opinion is not needed in this situation. You are dismissed."

Without so much as a grunt, Marcos left the room, shaking his head as he left.

"What if nobody ever understands?" Cassandra whispered, voice weakened by tears.

"They don't need to understand," the King repeated himself.

"But I don't belong here," Cassandra said, finally able to speak without trembling from tears. "We both know I don't belong here. I should never have come."

King Amadeo did not let go of Cassandra's hand. Instead, he lifted it to his lips. "Yes, you belong here," he said. "Come on. Let's find some refreshments, and then I can show you everything."

Funny how the way he said even those words made Cassandra's heart beat just a little more quickly. Without arguing, she nodded.

Perhaps I could belong here.

The End

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