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This Isn't Goodbye

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She can barely think of a time before André. Ever since they were children sparring with practice swords, chasing fireflies, begging Nanny for a piece of her apple pie before dinner and pouting when she said no. He's always been there, like...no, not like a brother. Despite growing up among sisters she never experienced that kind of longing, André was so much more.

So when it's time to leave him behind for her new life as the Dauphine's guard, she can't help but feel a little sad. This is a great honor for her and she knows it, as well as a great honor for her family. And the Dauphine is a sweet girl she looks forward to getting to know better.

But André won't be beside her. André, the person who never treated her like a man or a Proper Lady, but as Oscar. Her best friend.

"Can I come in?" his voice comes from outside her door as she packs the last few things into her satchel.

"It's open," she says. He's holding something as he comes inside, a small bundle tied with a ribbon. "Oh? What's this?"

"It's from us...that is, Nanny and I. Some of her homemade cake, in case you get hungry during the trip," he says. "I hope you have room for it in your bag." He deposits the bundle into her hands and she can even smell the cinnamon and sugar beneath the wrapping.

"How thoughtful! I'll have to thank her extra before I leave...oh, and thank you, too, André." She sets it aside,

"Ah, it's nothing." He fidgets with something in his pocket. "I...also have something for you. Just from me. You don't have to open it right now, I know you're busy."

Neither one of them says it, but it hangs between them, stuffy and sad and awkward. Everything is going to change from this day forward. We won't see each other as often anymore. I'll be part of the Royal Guard and he'll still be my family's servant. He presses the small package into her hand, it's somehow both light and heavy all at once.

"I'll miss you," he finally says.

"I'll miss you too. But André...this isn't goodbye." It won't be, she decides, she won't let it be. "I'll still be able to visit you now and then, you'll be able to visit me. We'll always be friends, no matter what happens." His expression brightens, and he takes her free hand between his and squeezes lightly.

"Best friends."

The next day, she opens the little package in the carriage to Versailles.

It's a pendant of a maple leaf, carved from the wood of the same name. Simple, but so very André.

With a smile, she loops the cord over her neck. As long as she has this, he'll always be with her.