That night, the moon was full. Darkness settled on the palace like a gentle blanket. Fireflies flew through moonlit fields, and roses bloomed pale and full. A gentle breeze warmed the grounds, smelling like fresh grass and summertime.
Isadora stepped out onto her balcony, letting the breeze play with the ends of her golden hair and the hem of her silver skirt. She knew Julien was inside, waiting for her. After that first awful night, he had changed completely. He now waited for her. He let her begin their tentative kisses. Her let her decide how far apart they slept in the enormous bed that stood in their room. She glanced back at him, sitting in a large armchair by the fire, reading a book. She liked him best at times like these, when he seemed ungaurded, relaxed, unprincely. He looked up, as if feeling her gaze, and smiled at her in that way of his, the one that had first loosened her heart when it was aching for Quin, the one that revealed his kindness, the one that seemed to say I'll still love you, no matter who you chose, all those months ago.
"Julien?" she asked, stepping back into the bedroom. "Would you... would you like to go on a walk with me?"
Standing up and gently taking her hand, he replied, "Of course. I'd love to, Isadora."
They walked hand in hand through the long corridors out into the garden. Under the star-strewn sky, Isadora and Julien wandered through mazes of flowers, talking softly. Finally, Isadora stopped and faced her husband.
"Julien, I just wanted to apologize. I'm... I'm so sorry."
"What for?" he asked.
"I've been awful to you in the past months. And so... I just wanted to apologize. And perhaps make it up to you somehow."
"Oh Isadora - my Isadora -" Julien moved to embrace her, but before her could, she rose to her tiptoes and pressed her lips against his. As she pulled away, her cheeks colored, but she took Julien's hands in her own.
"I love you, Julien."
Julien opened his mouth as if to respond, but there was nothing more to say. Isadora put her arms around him and said, "I'll meet you inside in a moment, alright?"
Julien nodded and walked back to the castle. Isadora stood for a moment in the garden, then turned and walked the other direction. She needed a moment to sort out her own feelings. A warm feeling in her chest rose to her throat, making her want to laugh and cry at the same time. She walked around the outskirts of the garden on her way back to the castle, gazing at the open fields surrounding her. She finally reached the main road again, and went to join Julien, but as she walked back, she saw a silhouette near the stables, dark against the full moon. A new stableboy, one whose silhouette made her think of the forest, homemade soup, and lost love.