Chapter XC

She found him in a tower room, high up in the eastern wing. No guards stood before the door, no key in the lock. No light from beneath the boards of the door. Only the pacing of two tired feet as they made their lonely circle over and over.
Like everything else in this accursed fortress, the door separating Beatrix and Keiran was thick, old, heavy and nigh-on impenetrable.

‘Damn!’ she swore, no longer wondering at her vulgar language but delighting in it. ‘If only we had Larkey!’

‘Who’s there?’

The voice was muffled through the wood, but it was Keiran all the same, and Beatrix rejoiced to hear him alive.

‘Jaques, Moll and Beatrix,’ said Jaques, putting his shoulder to the door and giving it an experimentary shove.

‘Beatrix? By all the gods, what’s she doing here?’

Her heart sank. He still hated her, then, after all that had happened in between their meetings. Well, what had she really, honestly expected? She’d known that his coming to rescue her had meant nothing - he would have done the same for anyone else. But somehow, she’d thought...

She pulled herself together. She’d obviously thought wrong.

‘I’m just here until you’re free,’ she said, attemtping to keep her tone steady, reflecting none of the anguish she felt inside. ‘I owe you. I’ll go as soon as we’re done.’

No reply, even though she strained her ears to hear one. If it was ever made, it was so quiet that it was heard by none but the orator himself.

She swallowed. He really must hate her if he declined to even answer her. Ye gods! Why had this happened? Her own blind prejudice, her own pride - that she had put aside, she had changed. Why couldn’t he see that? Why couldn’t he do that?

But instead, he refused to see her as anything but a noble.

So what did that make her?

The End

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