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Callan walked into the King's bed chambers unannounced, startling the nobles that had formed a circle around the huge bed, as if they were in a cult gathering watching a sacrifice take place. The Queen pushed her way through the crowd of people when she noticed Cal enter, and took his hand. Her once blond hair was fading white throughout the roots but she hid it well beneath her jeweled hair pieces. She wore a light yellow dress, the silk intertwining with gold patterns.

"Callan, I'm so glad you've returned. Katerina hasn't left her room in days," she said quietly.

"Mother, why didn't you call for me earlier? If I had known-"

"I know that your life has been difficult lately, I simply did not want to worry you," she said softly, a sad, motherly smile forming across her thin lips.

Cal sighed, hunching his shoulders forward as he leaned in closer, "How come I was never informed of father's condition earlier? This is obviously not a sudden illness, it must've been progressing for ages."

The Queen glanced around the room and then opened her mouth as if to say something more, but promptly shut it, "We'll talk of this at a later time. For now, I wish you to comfort your Father."

Cal glanced back to the King, surrounded by the nobles. He felt himself overwhelmed with emotion, watching his father's nearly lifeless body. He looked back to his mother, who watched him worriedly. He muttered an apology under his breath, and walked out of the room, leaving his mother in a state of shock.

He walked quickly through the familiar corridors of the royal apartments until he reached the common parlor, where he sat and began scribbling out a note on a piece of stationary. He then signed his name and continued to slide the folded paper under the door leading to the guest chambers. He stayed there for a moment, regaining his composure from the incident with his mother. He had always been a person to simply ignore bad situations, convincing himself that they would go away if he didn't think about them. But as he stood in front of Ariellas door, merely standing in her near presence, he knew that the man that he had become with her would do what was right.

He cleared his throat quietly, took a deep breath, and walked back to his fathers chambers.

When he opened the french doors, he was met with two familiar dark eyes. The man stared at Callan in bewilderment, nearly dropping the cup of tea that he was currently placing in the King's outstretched hand.

"Jacques? C'est toi?" Cal asked, still standing hesitantly in the doorway.

Jacques smiled brightly, "Mon ami!"

The King suddenly feel into a fit of coughing, Cal ran towards him, placing a handkerchief in his hand.

When the King eventually regained his composure, he forced a pained smile, "Oh my son-" he said sadly, reaching towards Cal.

Callan grasped his Father's rough hand, feeling his eyes tear up. He forced himself not to cry.

"Do you remember when you were but a boy, and you and Jacques broke into Monsieur Foiere's liqueur cabinet?" He laughed dryly, his voice dull and lifeless, "The two of you were such trouble makers."

Cal remembered it all too clearly. He smiled nervously, still remembering the sweet taste of Chambord and the smell of alcohol on their breath when they were finally caught by Foiere. They had been friends since childhood, and the King had always taken care of Jacques as if he were his own son, "I suppose we were."

Jacques chuckled softly, his smile lighting up the room, as it always seemed to do. He had dusty blonde hair, tied messily at the back of his neck with strands falling out in the front as to frame his defined, angular face. He was tall, like Callan, though his dressing was meek in comparison to the Prince's. His cravat was slightly askew as if hastily put on, and his light blue coat lay messily atop a white, wrinkled waist coat.

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