“Just, go and marry her, if that is your will.” The King said, who had become more solemn, Bjorn just looked at him, bewildered.




A heavy silence hung over the room once the doctor had left.
Erna was alone in the town house as Mrs Fitz had left for the palace with Bjorn.
Erna was growing fond of Mrs Fitz, who had barely left her side for the last couple days.

   Erna had been staring up at the ceiling for a long while.
Her body still ached and parts of her throbbed, but she was too nervous to sit still, so she got up and wrapped a shawl about her tightly and paced about.

   She thought about Bjorn’s offer.
She was going to reject him, but he got called away to the palace before she could say anything.

   “I’ll be right back, wait for me.” Was all he said and rushed out the door like a flurry.

   She wanted to leave the town house right away, but imagined the insult that would leave behind.
She would probably never see him again after that.
Would that be a bad thing? She would be far, far away by then, but his offer clung to her.

   On that cold, wet and desolate night, she felt like the whole world had abandoned her, leaving her to her fate in the cold rain.
But out of the darkness  he came to her.
He was her salvation.
She remembered looking up into his eyes and was suddenly overcome with conflicting emotions.
Shame and relief, love and despair.
They still lingered in the corners of her mind.

   As she paced about the room, her head aching from trying to order her thoughts, she became dizzy and hurriedly sat in the chair by the window before she fainted.
The sun was setting and splashed ambers and reds all over the sky.
The light dyed Erna’s pale complexion a deep tan.

   She should go and find Pavel, after conveying her rejection to Bjorn.
Even if she couldn’t find Pavel and he had truly abandoned her, she would still make for Buford.

   As she carefully ordered her chores, Erna’s eyes did not leave the streets below, which was visible from the bedroom window.
The shadows stretched out over the complicated road.




Pavel decided that he could not wait forever and returned to the Police Station the very next morning.
The two old ladies from Buford in tow.

   “Is this city really so heartless, Pavel? To treat out Erna like some worthless speck of dust.” Baroness Baden said as she looked up at the police station.
Her eyes were red and puffy from crying.

   “I think they are just confused, Baroness, a lot of people are saying a lot of things and its difficult to find the truth in all of it.” Pavel was angry and he did not hide it very well as he tried to convey words of comfort to Baroness Baden.
“You two wait here, I’ll be back soon.”

   It didn’t seem fair to drag the Baroness and Mrs Greve all the way up the stairs especially since the two burst into tears at the slightest mention of the missing Miss Hardy.

   Pavel did not get very far, as an officer refused to let him up and see the officer in charge of the missing persons case.
Sensing something was wrong, the officer actually came out to speak to Pavel, who was clearly upset and angry.

   “The investigation has been closed due to the fact that Miss Hardy is not missing.” The officer said.

   Pavel couldn’t believe what he was hearing, Erna had not returned home and had not been seen in days.

   “That can’t be, no one has seen Miss Hardy in days.” Pavel desperately explained.

   “Young man, look here,” the officer pulled out the missing persons report and showed it to Pavel.
“See, the girl is not missing and it was a false report due to family error.”

   “It can’t be.” Pavel stammered.

   “I’m sorry, it happens all the time, nine in ten cases involving missing aristocracy kids are like that.
It’s what happens when you force people into marriage.” The officer gave a smirk and tossed a newspaper in front of Pavel before heading off to deal with another irate visitor.

The daughter of Viscount Walter Hardy, who had been reported missing,  was found to be living with the Grand Duke

Pavel couldn’t believe it, he re-read it several times.
The article went into details about Miss Hardy and her in long standing involvement with the Grand Duke.
Even going so far as to claim the pair was thought to have eloped.

   Pavel was horrified and snatched up the newspaper and read it again as he returned downstairs.
The article was so vulgar he couldn’t believe the person who wrote it considered themselves a journalist.

   “Oh my god, the old lady has collapsed.” Someone shouted.

   Pavel looked up and saw a crowd gathering around the waiting area and his heart leapt into his mouth.
He pushed through the crowd and saw the fallen Baroness Baden laid out on the floor, Mrs Greve close at hand.
She was a mess and staring down at the unconscious Baroness.

   There was a newspaper gripped in her hand.

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