Tainted Saint, Chapter Eighty-SevenMature

The medicine was terrible-tasting. It burned all the way down Cassandra's throat, making her insides feel as though they were about to explode. Doubling over and clutching at her stomach, Cassandra writhed in pain as the medicine worked its magic.

It felt as though the fever was being yanked right out of Cassandra's innards, as though her stomach and heart and lungs and everything else inside her body was being shattered. The burning sensation only grew worse and worse, until suddenly, it stopped.

Cassandra dared to take a breath.

The breath came easily.

Running her hands over her forearms, Cassandra was surprised that no pain followed. Only minutes before, so much as touching her feverish skin had caused discomfort. Now, there was nothing - only the normal recognition of the sense of touch. Swallowing hard and looking up, Cassandra's wide eyes met Marcos' gaze. And in that gaze, she saw everything she had once wanted to see.

Acceptance. As if Amadeo's sacrifice had somehow made Cassandra innocent in Marcos' eyes.

"I guess...I guess he really thought you were worth dying for. Worth saving," Marcos said, his eyes filled with tears. He turned and gave the King a long look. "I'm still not convinced there's no hope for him. He's a fighter, that one. The only one of us who could ever beat death."

Cassandra slipped off the bed and onto her feet. She grasped the edge of the bed, expecting to waver in weakness, but when her legs naturally supported her weight, she was reminded that she was well now. Healthy.

And she had made her choice.

Following Marcos over to the bed where Amadeo lay, Cassandra gently placed her hand on Amadeo's arm. Would he really die? Or would he prove to be triumphant, as Marcos so clearly believed? There was nothing to do but wait.

And whisper. Cassandra leaned her head close to Amadeo's ear. "Amadeo," she said, her voice breaking with what could only have been love, "I've made my choice."

The air seemed heavy as the world waited for her next words.

"I choose you."

The End

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