Chapter Seventeen- Respato’s Cell

As usual, here is today’s verse!

Matthew 1:24

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,

I hope everyone is having an amazing Christmas Eve and is ready for Christmas tomorrow!!

The next morning I woke up before the sun came up and immediately got ready to go see Respato.  The guard brought me into an interrogation room and a minute later, he led Respato in. 

“Whenever you are finished, My Lady.”

“Thank you.” Respato and I both sat down. “How are you?”

“I’m alive, never hungry, never thirsty, and no fleas. What more can I ask for after what I did?” He smiled wryly. “Are you here for the wedding?” I nodded and looked him over.

“You seem alright.” He nodded, but there was question in his eyes. I looked down at my hands, clasping and unclasping them. “She isn’t here. She didn’t even know that we were leaving.”

“Your choice, I assume?” He asked dryly.

“Joeté’s, and mine. He agrees with me that bringing her here would only make things worse. Since the battle, she has stayed inside her house, barely coming out. She would rather cut out her eye than spend time with me right now, so I don’t really know how she is.” I looked into his eyes, finding only judgement, no understanding. “I know what you are thinking, Respato. But this was our choice. She would have come here and she would have seen you, and that would have just made things so much worse.”

“Leaving her in Antioch will produce the same outcome. She will be furious that the two of you went behind her back like this.” He raised his eyebrows skeptically.

“Then at least she will be showing some emotion other than boredom and despondency. Because those are the only emotions she has shown to me since you left. Those and hatred. Hatred towards me, hatred towards Joeté, even towards Jarika.” I sighed. “I can’t take any more of it, Respato. I can’t take the blank and empty looks she gives me everytime I say something that doesn’t interest her in the tiniest bit. I can’t take the look of hurt everytime someone mentions you in front of her. Your name isn’t even said in Antioch anymore because everyone is terrified that she will finally go over the edge.” I shook my head. “And I can’t take the look of disgust she gives me when I give an order to the people. I have taken over so much since you have been gone, because I have had to. But it doesn’t matter to her. It doesn’t matter that what you did was wrong. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t have a choice in the matter. All that matters is that Joeté and I were the witnesses that testified against you. And that automatically makes us the enemy.”

He was staring at the covering on my arm. “I shouldn’t have said that. I am sorry. I didn’t really think about all you have been through.I guess I didn’t realize how much my actions would affect other people.” 

I sighed, knowing what he was thinking of. “The battle was hard. But we won, and we got Jarika back. That is one of the reasons I was comfortable with all of us leaving her in Antioch without us. Life happens, Respato. The best thing we can do is try and hold on. Don’t forget the past, but realize it is gone.” He nodded. 

“I only wish that I had made a different decision. That I had not given the location to them.”

“You made a bad choice. Everyone does. But you saved everyone this time. You learned from your mistakes, and you made things better. That’s all that counts at this point. And we have defeated the best general in the English army, and we hold him in captivity. That was all you.” I saw the sun beginning to rise through the iron bars of the small window. “I need to go, and I probably won’t have time to visit you until I leave, but it was nice to see you again. I wanted to make sure they were treating you well.”

“Better than I expected.” He laughed. 

“Guard. I am ready to leave now.” I called out. The large guard immediately appeared and took Respato back to his cell. 

I walked out into the courtyard and looked around. So peaceful. A few stable hands rushed in and out of the stable, accompanied by the faint orders given by the stable master. I smiled and returned to my room. I applied a bit of ointment to my arm and even less to my leg.  A small knock came at the door and I walked quietly to the door and opened it. 

“Good morning.” Joeté seemed hesitant. “I have been thinking about what you said, and I think you are right. I think that I should be completely honest with Hannah.” I nodded slowly, glancing past him at Hannah’s door. The door knob was turning. 

“Well, here’s your big chance.” I stepped back into my room as Hannah’s door opened. I locked my door so that he couldn’t reopen it.

“Good morning! How did you sleep last night? I know I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.” Hannah didn’t even breathe in between sentences. 

“I slept alright.” There was a pause. “Listen, there is something I have been meaning to talk to you about.”

“Okay, what is it?” I could practically hear her innocent smile. And for once, I knew that she had no idea what was coming. 

“I do not think that this is working out exactly.”

“What is not working out? Being here for the wedding? This is amazing. What do you mean?”

“Us. I just feel like things have changed between us. After everything that has happened, I have really thought everything in my life through more. I know that you might not have noticed it, but I have. And I know that you and I just aren’t  on the same page anymore. You already know that I didn’t mean to propose to you. You already know that I did it to protect both of us. But we do not need protecting anymore. Your father is in the caves and he can not hurt us, no matter what happens.”

“I don’t understand.” She said it slowly. “Are you breaking off our engagement?” 

“Yes, I am. And I hope you can understand.”

“This is about Antepi, isn’t it? You want to be with her again.” Her tone was accusing. “That’s why you were standing outside her door instead of mine.”

“This has nothing to do with how I feel about Antepi. This has everything to do with how I feel about you.”

“I don’t see what you are talking about, but I can not stop you. Just know that it is a mistake.” Her innocence was gone, replaced by a bone chilling tone. 

“You are still welcome in Antioch. And you can stay here until we return. Our relationship changes nothing with where you live.”

“Thank you for doing at least that much.” I could hear the sarcastic edge to her voice and the loud sound of her door closing. I unlocked and opened my door again.

“That went better than I expected.” I smiled a little, trying to reassure him.

“That makes two of us. I don’t feel the guilt that I thought I would. I think I made the right choice; I couldn’t have lived the rest of my life with her, feeling the way I did.”

“Well you made the decision you thought was best.” A bell started ringing. “That would be the signal for breakfast. Shall we?” Everyone came out of their rooms and we all walked down together. My black floral dress was slightly more fancy than yesterdays with its pink flowers. Still moveable, but less so than before. I had a feeling that my dresses would get progressively more fancy as the days passed. It still had long sleeves, but it went out at the bottom much more. It was a deep black with pink flowers embroidered all over it. 

Joeté offered his arm to me and I took it, the two of us leading everyone down to the dining hall. The pages at the door opened them and announced us. 

“Lord Joeté, Lady Antepi, and their entourage.” 

Philippe and Wanepi stood up and everyone bowed or curtseyed. I could see Wanepi sigh slightly, but no one  else noticed. I knew that she was still getting used to being pampered and respected like a queen.

“Good morning everyone. It is a beautiful morning, and I was thinking that we would all go for a ride through the forests, maybe get some hunting done.” Philippe announced to everyone. We all nodded before taking our seats. Joeté pulled mine out and pushed it in before he sat at his own on the other side of the table. I glanced at him quizzically but he was already looking away.

I hoped that he hadn’t thought that I wanted him to break off his engagement with Hannah so that he could be with me. Of course, I had encouraged him to do that, but I hadn’t meant for it to seem like I did it so that we could be together. But maybe he was just singling me out because he was finally free to do so. I bit back a sigh, and tried to focus on my food. 

I ate my breakfast quickly and signaled to Wanepi that I needed to talk to her. She nodded subtly and went back to finishing her meal. She stood up. 

“I believe that if we are going to ride, the ladies should return to their rooms and change into more appropriate attire.” 

The ladies rose and walked out of the room. We all hurried as quickly as we could to our rooms. Wanepi had a servant bring her dress to my room so that we could talk. 

“Joeté and Hannah are not engaged anymore and Joeté is acting all different about it. It has been one hour since it happened and he is already acting weird. I don’t know what to do.” I said without even waiting for her to ask what was wrong.

“Is someone feeling clueless?” She smiled teasingly.

I looked at her, raising my eyebrows. “Clueless isn’t exactly what I would call it. He is just being overly nice and I don’t know how to respond. And I don’t want Hannah to hate me. I know that we have never been on great terms, but I wish we were better. And I heard her. She thinks that the reason he broke off the engagement is because of me. Which I mean, it partly is. I told him that I didn’t think it was right, but he seemed against the idea until this morning. He knocked on my door and told me, then Hannah came out of her room and he just did it.” I said in exasperation. “The man has no tact.” I threw my hands up a little.

She laughed a little. “Well isn’t this what you wanted? Him to be free to marry whom he chooses?” 

“Yes and no. I wanted him to stop ‘lying’ to her, but if it was so easy for him to give her up, I don’t know if that is what I would want.”

“It was so easy for him to give up on her because he didn’t love her. It wouldn’t be so easy to let go of someone that he loved.”

I thought about it for a moment before finding another reason to have a problem with it. “And I want Hannah to feel like she is safe in Antioch. Like she has a home.”

“Well, we will just have to see how everything goes these next few days. I will watch him and see what he does.” The two of us changed to our riding outfits and stepped outside. 

The minute everyone heard our door close, their doors immediately opened and all the ladies were in the hallway. We quickly descended to the courtyard, where the men had already had all the horses saddled. I pulled myself into Amor’s saddle before anyone could come around to help me. Whatever was going through Joeté’s head, I was not going to be pampered. I was the same Antepi that I had been before we left and I didn’t need anyone helping me into my saddle. The ride was successful and helped to ease Wanepi’s nerves, at least a little. I couldn’t help but notice that she practically stared at Joeté the entire time, except for when someone was looking at her. She and I were at the back, so that wasn’t very often, thankfully. But apparently tact was not her strong suit either. 

We stayed on our horses the entire time so there wasn’t any occasion for someone to help me down. 

By the time we returned to the palace, the sun had already set. We made our way quietly through the palace to our rooms. Everyone fell into their beds and drifted to sleep.