Antonya returned from her session with Luis, and sat in her room, eating a fresh platter of strawberries that Andrei had brought to her room earlier. One of the dresses that she had talked about with Luis was just like the dress she had that Velibor loved. Finding a sudden desire to wear the dress, she walked to her wardrobe and pulled it out. Just as she did, something fell out of the package and onto the floor, rolling under her bed. “Oh, no way!” she exclaimed, and got down on her hands and knees to get it.

Cristian had been talking to Alexandre, and Alexandre decided he had better go and apologise to Antonya, and try and make things work again. It was his own fault, out of pure jealousy, that things had messed up. He was walking through the corridors, when he heard her cry out in anger, and began to walk a little faster. He reached the doorway, only to see dresses thrown on the floor and half of a princess under a bed.

The little package had rolled right to the other side of the bed, but the other side was against the wall, so she could not get it. She had to go right underneath the bed. Just as she got it, she heard footsteps in the doorway and she froze. Whoever it was, they were just standing there, watching her. Reaching a little further, she managed to get the package, but made no effort to move out from under the bed.

“Hey, princess. Let me help you up.” Laughing, Alexandre stood by the bed and offered a hand to help her. A wave of relief swept through Antonya, and she let him help her. Getting up, Antonya put the dresses back and laid out the one she wanted on the bed. Alexandre sat on the bed and played with the material on the dress. “It’s so soft and thin!” he said, wondering why on earth she wanted to wear this in such cold weather. She laughed, and he stepped out of the room while she changed.

“You can come back now, if you’re still there.” She called, eating strawberries again. Sitting down on the bed, she found the package and wondered where it came from. “What’s this?” Alexandre asked, taking the package from her and examining it. “Hey, isn’t this the crest of Serbia?” he said, pointing to a little gold picture on the package. “Yes,” she said, looking at it closely. “That’s the emblem of the royal Serbian goldsmith! Wow, I wonder what’s inside then?”

With excitement, she unwrapped the package carefully. There was a letter, which she folded and put inside the pocket of her dress, and the most beautiful little gold locket she had seen. There were white gold vines running along it, with rubies for flowers, and a little diamond heart in the middle. Opening it up, inside were the letters A V, ‘life is not forever but our love is eternal’ was engraved on the other side. She recognised those words from somewhere, and they filled her with a deep sadness. Alexandre took the locket from her hands and put it around her neck. The gold looked so beautiful against her pale skin. “Princess, where did you find this? It must have cost a fortune!”

She looked at Alexandre, thinking about it for a while, ‘Oh! It’s from that dress on the bed. It must have been in the pocket of the dress.” She looked at the dress, and instantly remembered. “Velibor” she whispered, and buried her face in the dress. Tears were welling up in her eyes but she didn’t want Alexandre to see. He put his arm around her and stroked her face.

“Antonya” he soothed, and she wrapped her arms around him. “I missed you so much” he breathed into her ear. She didn’t know what to do. Just as she thought life was over with Velibor and that she actually might finally move on from him, he comes creaming back into her life. Alexandre sensed her tension, and held her tight. She buried her head in his chest, but refused to cry in his presence. “Antonya” he whispered “you know that i’m always here for you. Things are twisted now, but I love you. You know that now don’t you?”

With tear-filled eyes she looked at Alexandre. He was so sweet, so pure, and she didn’t want to hurt him. She knew she would. Every man that had ever tried to court her had ended up hurt in someway or another. She could just see the hurt that would be in his eyes, th epain he would feel – no matter what she did. He held her, scared of her uncertainty and silence. She didn’t know what to do.

Cristian was walking around the courtyards, looking for Alexandre. He was so bored, and badly in need of something to pre-occupy his time. He sat on the bench and began to think. He had just finished explaining Antonya to Alexandre. Then he disappeared to go eat, and Cristian hadn’t seen him since. He ran to Antonya’s room. At least if he’s not there, he thought to himself, I’ll have Antonya to annoy.

Alexandre and Antonya were sitting together in silence in her room. Cristian came running around the corner and stopped just before the doorway to catch his breath. He walked in slowly, and sat on the other chair opposite them. The silence became awkward, and Cristian didn’t know what to do. Alexandre was fidgeting with his fingers, and Antonya was playing with the necklace around her neck. “Haven’t seen that one before” Cristian inquired, breaking the silence. Antonya looked at him, and looked at Alexandre, pleading with them to leave her alone silently.

“Hey Alexandre, can you give us a second please?” Cristian asked, standing up and walking towards Antonya. Looking puzzled, but accepting the order, Alexandre stood. “Umm, if you need me,” he began “I’ll, uh, I’ll umm...I’ll be with my mother preparing for Gatchina.” He walked out quickly, and closed the door silently behind him. As soon as he went Antonya burst into tears.

“It’s from Velibor.” She cried, before Cristian could say anything. He studied her, trying to figure out if this was true. “Wasn’tVelibor dead?” he said, after a while. “Yes, but he gave it to me before I left, slipping it into the pocket of my dress the last time I saw him. I had forgotten! How can I love Alexandre when i know that I’m going to break his heart? Cristian! Why am I like this? Why is it that no one understands fully?” holding her face in her hands, she began to cry uncontrollably. Cristian put an arm around her shoulder, and moved her towards the window. She sat on the ledge, still crying, only to see Alexandre sitting there in the courtyard below. Bursting into tears again, she ran to Critstian. “See? I’m killing him! Look at the sadness that’s in his eyes now! Every man I’ve ever loved has had the same look! I’m killing! Cristian, please, kill me before I commit murder again! I can’t take it anymore. I love him too much.” He held her tightly, stroking her hair. “Cousin, if you love him you’ll live for him. Velibor is causing you pain. Let me take this neckalce from you, and I’ll look after it for a while. For now, love Alexandre. He cares so much for you, and right now that’s what you need. Cousin, please, promise me you’ll smile?”

He let go of her, and she stared at him. “Cristian, if anything happens, you know what I will end up doing!” He pulled the handkerchief from one of his pockets and held it out for her. “Dry your eyes and go and join him. He needs you, and though you may refuse to accept it, you need him too.” Wiping her eyes, she walked out to meet Velibor.

Cristian held the necklace, wondering what to do. Something was about to happen, and he was unsure about the turns it would take. His thoughts began to drift off about the possible events, wondering throughout the castle. He found himself just outside the library, when the Tsar and Tsarina could be heard talking near-by. “Antonya” the Tsar whispered “is the perfect tool to our conquer of Serbia! How long have my fathers strived to conquer, yet I will be the first! All because my good for nothing son has decided he wants to court with no one less than the Serbian crown princess! My darling, this is beautiful!”

"Indeed, but the only way we shall acheive this is by allowing the relationship to florish. I think we should bring her to Gatchina! Alexandre has already asked me to talk with you about this. He really wants her to come. He said he would stay here with Marco if things don't work out." The Tsar went silent, and Cristian was fuming. He was just about to begin his search of Marco, but the Tsar started again. "Oh, I don't know what Marco would say about that, and despite the fact that we are the rulers of Russia, I have a feeling that Marco will say no." "Hmm" thought the Tsarina.

Just then Marco came up behind Cristian, clearing his throat as a warning to him. The Tsar and Tsarina stopped abruptly, and Cristian sprinted in the opposite direction to find his cousin. What have I done?, he thought to himself, now more sure than ever of what direction he and Antonya must take.