7 Dumb Move

Nia scurried and moved stealthily towards the garden like a rat sneaking into the kitchen.

She did not want anyone to know she was there, or it might be dangerous for the Princess.

"Nia!" A whisper was heard as Nia's eyes focused on the place from where the noise was coming from. She took a deep breath as she walked towards the voice of her lover.

As soon as Nia reached the place that was surrounded by trees, a strong force pulled her into a tight hug. Nia struggled a little as she tried to distance herself, but soon she gave in.

"Duke.." Nia tried to murmur but her words were soon cut off.

"I missed you, Nia. I missed this." Duke Felix said as his hold on her tightened around her waist. Nia did not know how to react. 

Nia missed Duke Felix too. When she heard the news that the Princess would be returning to the Angevin Kingdom, she was beyond happy. Her smile on her face was always blooming as she looked forward to it till the day she finally arrived.

But now that she was here, Nia was heartbroken. There were rumors going on in the Kingdom about Duke Felix and Princess Macy being lovers. She did not believe it, but when she heard the other maids gossiping, her hope was finally shattered.

But love cannot disappear so easily. There was always a little portion of it still remaining somewhere in the dark corners of her heart, ready to bloom again. So Nia hoped to listen to Duke Felix's explanation. How could he not say anything in his letters?

But today, when she finally heard the words from the King himself that Duke Felix and Princess Macy would be married next month, she did not know what to think of anymore. 

Was there any situation where she could be with Duke Felix? Nia was confused, but she still managed to wiggle herself out of Duke Felix's hug. But the man did not let her move away completely. He still held onto her hands with a smile on his face.

"I heard you are marrying Princess Macy in a month?" Nia directly brought the main topic out as she looked into Duke Felix's eyes.

"Well… who told you that? Princess Macy?" Duke Felix asked as he raised his eyebrows in frustration.

Nia shook her head as she denied, "It was the King himself."

Duke Felix's face turned pale as his hold on Nia tightened. "I had to do it, Nia. You know how Princess Macy feels for me. Everyone knows, including the King. He forced me. Otherwise Princess Eleanor would be in danger."

Nia's eyes shook as she stopped struggling, "Princess Eleanor?"

Duke Felix nodded his head as he closed his eyes. He gave a helpless sigh as he decided to tell Nia the truth.

"I have never betrayed you Nia. Never. But somehow, the King got to know that I was still writing letters to Eleanor. Although the letters were between us, we still used Eleanor's name as a cover instead of yours." 

Duke Felix's voice was tinted with guilt as he continued, "When the royal family found out about the letters, they put a deal in front of me. Princess Eleanor can live her life in the Empire but I have to marry Macy and cannot ever marry Eleanor. But if I refuse, they will make Eleanor marry a man that would be of help to the Empire."

"I know what you are thinking, Nia. It was a dumb move, but you need to understand. Princess Eleanor is my childhood best friend. And I do not want her to suffer because of us. But trust me, I know that if I had ever told the truth, and that the one I was writing the letters to was actually you, the outcome would be unspeakable. I believe I would not be able to ever see you again."

Duke Felix's voice shook as his body trembled. The sight he did not want to experience, flashed in front of his eyes. "So Nia, I have to marry Princess Macy to keep you and Princess Eleanor safe. But don't worry, I will still marry you in the end. You just need to give me some time. You will give me some time… right? Will you give me one more chance? A chance for us?" Duke Felix's tone was begging.

Nia did not know how to react at this moment. If it involved Princess Eleanor, then she completely understood. She herself did not want to get the Princess involved in this mess between her and Felix. 

Nia still regretted not stopping Duke Felix when he had asked Princess Eleanor to allow her to write letters to him under the Princess's name. He was afraid that people would suspect if he started exchanging letters with a lady-in-waiting, but would not suspect anything if he wrote a letter to his friend who had lost her parents.

Nia swallowed as she blamed herself. She wanted to take a stand but she could never do it. Nia smiled as she gathered her courage and said in a small tone, "I want to follow Princess Eleanor to the Empire. I cannot leave her alone."

Duke Felix nodded his head in understanding. He had figured it out that Nia might want to accompany Princess Eleanor just the way she followed the Princess to her maternal family's state.

"You should." Duke Felix dropped a small kiss on Nia's forehead as he pulled her closer into his arms, "I will try to control the situation over here. Even if I marry Princess Macy, I will still wait for you. The day the situation here is handled, I will call you back and marry you. I would make sure that you get all the respect you deserve."

Nia's gaze was filled with tears as she nodded her head. She knew that even after the King had stabilized the powers, there were still oppositions and some people wanted Princess Eleanor to take the throne. Although she refused, the situation was already not so peaceful.

"I will take care of the Princess." Nia murmured as she hugged the Duke one last time. She knew it was risky to meet like this and they would be leaving for the Empire in two days.

Duke Felix's hands wrapped around Nia as his hold tightened. "I would keep sending you letters, Nia. I would wait till the day we can finally meet in the open without any fear."

Nia smiled as she nodded her head as she enjoyed this borrowed time in Duke Felix's arms. Her tears left dried up traces on her cheeks.

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