1618: vi

Aimée very slowly packed her few garments and belongings in a small trunk. She was dreading having to tell Sister Teresa about leaving. She was also concerned that Gilles had not arranged this and therefore would have no idea where she had gone.

In her hand, she held a bundle of letters written in cipher. They didn’t mean anything to anyone else. The contents weren’t necessarily even worth disguising with code. They had been simple diversions from the Count to occupy her time. She riffled through them and pulled out the most recent. The rest she tossed into the grate and she watched as they flared up in bright flames.

“So it’s true.” Sister Teresa appeared at her side and watched the flames. Aimée tensed at the sound of the young nun’s voice. She released it with a sigh.

“Yes, I am going to join the Countess de Lannoy as a companion in Paris,” she said.

“Hm,” Sister Teresa said lightly. She was feigning excitement, “That is what you wanted, isn’t it? To go to Paris?”

“Yes, it is,” Aimée turned to Teresa, “And I’ll write with all the news of court, I promise.”

“The Abbess won’t like that,” Teresa’s forced smile faltered.

“I am sorry to leave…” Aimée began, but the nun took her hand and gave it a light squeeze.

“Don’t be. We are on different paths. I recognize that now and I will always welcome you if you choose to return.”

“Thank you,” Aimée said as she embraced her friend. “There is a favor I must ask you.”

“The Count?” the Sister asked.

“Yes, if a letter from him should come or if he should show up himself at long last, tell him where I have gone,” Aimée requested with earnest.

“I will, Mademoiselle, but perhaps you and he are also on different paths,” Sister Teresa suggested. Aimée looked back at the curling ashes of the letters.

“No, I don’t believe that is so,” she said firmly.

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