Tainted Saint, Chapter Sixty-ThreeMature

It was, of course, raining.

As the torrents of rain fell from the appropriately blackened clouds, Amadeo's heart continued to break. Being the King, he still had to go about his duties, but his anguish never fully left him. It had been almost a week since Cassandra had left, and yet...those broken eyes refused to leave his mind.

Everyone around the castle noticed Amadeo's inner turmoil. Some blamed Cassandra. Others were glad she had left. Surely, the King would realize that he oughtn't get himself involved with such a woman.

Gabelle, however...her temperament had changed. Unlike Marcos, she never commented on how "fortunate" it was that Cassandra had left the castle. In fact, she almost seemed disturbed about it, as well.

Amadeo was taking a rare break from his obligations when there came a knock on the door to his study. "Yes?" he called, weary.

"It's me." Gabelle.

"Come in."

At Amadeo's consent, the door opened, and Gabelle walked in, her face drawn. For a moment, she wrung her hands and refused to meet Amadeo's eyes. Finally, she opened her mouth and appeared to struggle for words.

"If you're here to tell me that you think it's good that Cassandra is gone..." Amadeo's voice trailed off.

"No, on the contrary, I..." There was a long pause. "I've been a hypocrite. I've been forgetting who I was before I came. Not a prostitute, but we both know I'd done some bad things." Gabelle silently traced the door knob with her fingertips, just a breath away from the doorway, probably as a method keeping her way of escape near her. "I treated her wrongly, Amadeo, by not talking to her when she came."

Amadeo's heart broke at the way Gabelle's voice trembled. Closing the distance between himself and his dear friend, he wrapped his arms around her and whispered, "What's done is done."

"I guess...I guess I just wanted to say that when Cassandra comes back, I'll welcome her with open arms. I won't neglect her this time. I see how much she means to you, and I don't want to discourage that - even if I don't fully understand it."

Amadeo pulled away and looked Gabelle in the eyes. "You said when she comes back."

Smiling, Gabelle nodded, though tears were still gracing her face. "I know she'll come back, Amadeo. I know she will. And when she does, I want you to know that there will be no discouragement coming from me."

Amadeo's heart was filled with joy. "Thank-you, Gabelle. You've no idea what your words mean to me."

Gabelle stood on her tiptoes and glanced out the window. From the study, the castle gates were just visible. "Well, I'd best leave you," she said. "It looks like you have a visitor. The gates just opened."

The End

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