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***

Victoria must have cried for hours. After having so many weeks of having no one to talk to, and bottling up all her fears. She had so much pain to get out. William just held her as she cried and tried to think of what he could do to help her.

Victoria finally stopped crying and glanced around her, almost surprised at where she was. She freaked out a little "I've gotta get back to the Manor before someone realizes I'm gone" She lept to her feet and went to run.

"No wait" William put a hand on her arm to stop her "I need to talk to you first"

Victoria waited.

"Have you told your mother you don't want to marry the Count?"

"Yes, and she doesn't really care. It's a financial thing, I'm basically a business asset to her and father, they don't care how I feel."

"What if somebody had more to offer then the Count?"

"He'd be really angry, and they wouldn't want him as an enemy. The marriage is set in stone. The only way I wouldn't have to marry him is if I died" Victoria said quietly.

William looked worried. "There has to be some way" He said to himself.

"I'm sorry William but I really have to get back to the house" Victoria turned and started walking.

William watched her go. With every step she took he felt like he was dying, that his heart was being taken from him. He'd only known her a few days. But the amount they'd talked yesterday he felt like he'd known her forever. And he felt like he couldn't live without her. Could this be... love?

"Victoria wait!" He called out to her, he ran after her took her by the arm and spun her around, into his arms.

Victoria looked a little surprised.

"I... I don't want you to marry him, Victoria" He whispered.

Victoria looked into his eyes and understood his meaning "Don't make things more complicated" She said with a moan. She tried to pull away from him but he pulled her back.

Considering she didn't really want to pull away she didn't try again. She just gazed up at him, her eyes wide. And though William really knew he shouldn't, he found himself leaning down and gently brushing his lips against hers.

***

"Where is he?" Mary-Kate asked as she paced the floor. She was standing by the window which faced out onto the street, in the room she and Ashley were sharing.

"Calm down" Ashley said. "Isn't this a good sign?"

"I don't know" Mary-Kate whimpered.

***

The young couple stood in the moonlight, wrapped in each others arms, gently kissing for what to them seemed like mere seconds. In reality another 10 or so minutes had passed. Summing up all her strength Victoria pulled back ever so slightly.

"I really have to go" She said tenderly stroking the side of Williams face.

He nodded "I know" He quickly kissed her again, making sure to not allow the kiss to last to long.

She smiled at him then turned and ran back to the house. William sighed and started home.

***

William arrived home totally preoccupied. The twins decided it was best not to ask what had happened. He was equally pre-occupied over the next couple of days. And he always went away somewhere at dusk.

Mary-Kate had wanted to follow him but Ashley had insisted they didn't.

***

"How are you doing?" Ashley walked outside and sat next to William on the grass in the yard behind the cottage.

"Not so good" He said shaking his head "She's getting married and I don't know what I can do to stop it"

"What... what if you ran away?" Ashley asked quietly.

William was silent as he thought it over.

***

"I missed you so much" Victoria ran over to William and through herself into his arms.

"I missed you too" He said burying his face in her hair.

They'd been meeting in the garden at dusk every night, since that night William went to see her. But time was running short. Victoria's wedding was now just a couple of days away.

"I had an idea" William said after kissing her for a long time.

"What?" She asked breathlessly.

"Run away with me" He insisted "We can get away from this place, and all the problems in it"

"I don't know" She looked away "Could we?" She asked looking back, she tried to stop herself from getting hopeful, but she was.

"Of course!" He said excitedly "We could leave now, just get on my horse and start riding, and never come back"

"But what about your mother?"

"I said good-bye to her this morning"

"You seem pretty confident" Victoria said quietly.

"All we need is each other" William said cupping her face in his hands and looking into her eyes.

She looked at him for a long minute then nodded ever so slightly "Alright" She whispered.

He leaned down to quickly kiss her then led her over to his horse and lifted her up onto it, he then climbed up behind her and they... rode off into the sunset.

***

Chapter 9

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