"I came to tell you good-bye, Bess." He sounded as if he were struggling not to cry. "Tomorrow Amy Robsart and I are to be wed. I'm...I'm so sorry."

She looked into his eyes and saw pain mixed with longing. Tomorrow he would be wearing a smile, dancing gaily with his new bride, while she stood watching silently with a heart as heavy as a stone.

"She's a lovely girl, Robin," Elizabeth said. "You did very well. I know that you will be happy with her."

As the daughter of a King, she herself would be useful as a bargaining chip, a bride for a foreign prince to seal an alliance with his country. France or Spain, perhaps, or maybe Portugal. They both knew that. He had accepted it and moved on. Why couldn 't she?

"I'll never forget you, Bess," he said. "Every time I kiss Amy, it will be your lips I am thinking of. Every time Amy and I make..."

"No, Robin, don't say it!" She felt the tears welling in her eyes. "Please, just don't say it. I can't bear to hear the words."

"I'm so sorry," he repeated awkwardly.

"Please, Robin, just kiss me one last time. One last time, and I will try to make it last a lifetime."

"Your foreign prince, whoever he may turn out to be..." Robert paused to run a hand over his eyes, which were moist with tears. "He'd better treat you right. He'd just better."

She gently put a finger to his lips. "Please, Robin, no more words. Just kiss me one last time before you go."

He did, and she closed her eyes and tried with all her might to make the moment linger for as long as she could. When it was over, he gently caressed her cheek with a far-away look in his eyes.

"Perhaps someday, Bess, when we are older and more in control of our lives, free to make our own choices..."

"That's just a dream, Robin, and you know it is. Please, just go. Go to your bride, your future. Leave me here with my memories."

"I love you, Bess. I will always love you. Never forget that."

He gave her one last look with eyes full of longing, then turned to go. Tears flowed freely down her face as she watched his figure grow smaller and smaller.