It was autumn.
For some reason, that was all she could think of. It was silly, considering what she’d come here to do, but as she stared out the window, that was what came to her mind. The scene outside the window was a kaleidoscope of amber, red, and orange. The woman turned her head slightly and looked toward the door. Still empty. She sighed and went back to watching the scenery. Of course, he would have to be gone now. That was just like him. And while she waited him out, he wouldn’t ever suspect…
Her reflection stared back at her from the glass, pale skin made paler, dark hair fading into the darkness of the surrounding room. She looked…ghostlike. Luisa blinked, dispelling the vision. It wasn’t like her to feel sad, especially over this. She tossed her hair impatiently. The decision was made and she didn’t plan to back out now. It was the pride of thing. Outside, red-gold leaves twisted through the air, lying in heaps underneath the trees and spreading across the sidewalk. An ocean of foliage seemed to separate this building from those across the street–an ocean of foliage with people walking across it, saints on a day like today.
Luisa shifted into a more comfortable position. She was still perched on the windowsill, but at least this way she could press her back against the wall and hug her knees to her chest. It wasn’t much use being ready to escape at the moment. If she kept the window open, the chilly breeze was sure to alert him she was there before she even had a chance to get ready. Besides, Luisa was confident she could move quickly enough that she could leave as soon as she deemed it necessary. With Alaude, though, there was no telling exactly how long that would be.
She wondered if he would be upset about how she was all dressed up. The thought caused her to giggle. He would be, but it was hardly of his concern anymore. Besides, today she needed to be able to get away quickly, even more so than usual. Luisa had said her goodbyes, as many as she could handle. This was to be her last one, and with that thought came a flare of nervousness, balanced out oddly with a feeling of relief. After this, there would be no need to agonize over it anymore. Obviously, she’d miss Giotto and G.. They were family. But at the same time, she was excited about the opportunity she had decided to grasp. She rather thought she should be commended on coming to such an intelligent conclusion. Even Alaude would certainly come to think she was doing the right thing…but that was only if he found out the truth and she had made sure to wring out promises from all parties she had spoken to that that would never ever happen. Luisa shook her head. He would have to think her stupid, as much as that annoyed her. It was better this way, better for the both of them.
A soft click from the other end of the room caused her to stiffen, but she did not look away from the window. She knew who was standing in the shadowy opening; she didn’t need to look. He was used to finding her sitting in his window, ready to depart at a moment’s notice, leaving as soon as he spotted her more often than not. It was unlikely he was surprised by her presence.
His shoes clacked against the wooden floor, echoing against the walls. The building, except the two people in that room, was empty. Slowly, he pulled out his chair. Just as slowly, he took something out of his drawer. By the time he began to straighten out the papers in front of him, Luisa was convinced he was ignoring her on purpose.
“So. Why are you here?”
There was a pause as he continued to look at his paperwork and she continued to stare at the sky. Rain clouds were coming in. Good, that would give her an excuse to wear her coat and that would make even easier for her to slip out of town unannounced. Without taking her eyes off the ceiling of gray, Luisa finally spoke:
“To say goodbye.”
This statement was met with silence. She allowed it to drag out, but then began to worry that he was so far from caring that he was just waiting for her to leave. A quick look over her shoulder showed her that was anything but the case. Instead of ignoring her, he was looking straight at her, papers still clutched in his hands but all but forgotten. The look on his face was so atypical of him that she almost forgot the gravity of her situation and laughed. Clearly he understood that this time was a not a goodbye before she left on a mission for Giotto. She had never been the silly type to expect coddling on the eve of one of those. When he still said nothing, Luisa continued:
“I’m leaving, you see. And I don’t plan on coming back–in fact, I’m certain I won’t be.” Good. Her voice was firm. She knew that she was confident in this decision, but she needed him to hear it or she would have a much more difficult time getting away.
Was he actually curious? Now she really was smiling. Knowing that she had his attention, she felt comfortable turning her attention back to the weather. She gave him a careless shrug. That was for her to know and him to never find out.
“I’m…bored I guess.”
“And leaving is going to solve that problem?” She could practically hear the sneer on his face, “You’d throw away your family on whim?”
That deserved another shrug, “Giotto knows. He can handle it. G., too.”
“Need I remind you–”
“Yeah, I’m a woman. I got that,” She didn’t need this lecture again. Not now, “Worry about yourself. I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself.”
“Yes, really,” This time she turned the full force of her glare on him. How many times had they had this argument and how many times had she won? And he was choosing to bring it up again now? She should have expected as much, really, but for some reason it ticked her off. Then again, Alaude couldn’t (and wouldn’t ever) know how serious she really was.
“Is there a particular reason you decided to bother with this stop?”
Luisa inhaled sharply. Of all the insensitive, selfish…Alaude smirked. He could tell he’d managed to strike a nerve. Determined not to let things end this way, Luisa stood, landing gracefully on the floor and walking toward him in the quiet the followed. She stopped next to his chair. Even when he was sitting down, she was shorter than he was. He looked down at her, impassive as usual, and suddenly she had the overwhelming desire to crack that façade. She had the perfect way and now was as good as ever.
But no. She had promised herself. It was her problem. Not his. So instead of snapping, instead of letting go her secret, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
“I had something to tell you.”
Wind brushed against the window. With it, rain began to pat against the roof. All around was the sound of autumn–her autumn.
“I love you.”
It was hard to say, harder than anything she had had to do. Alaude blinked. When he opened his eyes, Luisa had already disappeared, leaving an open window and the storm pouring through it in her wake. He made no move to close it after her. Again, he reached for his papers and then spun in his chair to look at them again.