Chapter 20

Author's Note: A big hug to OSUSprinks, bluegirl-783, Veve, Faithful Magewhisper, sevy MMAD, Kristi-Julie, Vluy and to hiyahail for all the lovely reviews. Thanks girls and Merry Christmas! =)

"What am I going to do now?" sighed Clarisse, looking at Joseph desperately.

"Just don't worry, ok?" his smile was so comforting as he tried to relax her, "Just don't worry, I'm sure we will figure out something."

"I know," she blushed, "I mean, it sounds so easy. Actually with you everything seems so easy."

"I'm just trying to make it easy…"

"And you are doing it very well if I may say so," she smiled then snuggled up to him. "So…there will be a press conference in Pyrus tomorrow. Sylvia says if I want to go back…"

"You have one day to make the decision?"

"Exactly."

"Then there's no time to waste. So what would you say for a pro and contra list as a start?" he asked lovingly,

"Ah…," she pulled away a little, "Basically it's a good idea, but in my case I don't think it would be too successful."

"But it's really simple. You just have to enumerate why you would stay or why you would go then it will be much easier to decide, believe me…"

He saw she was hesitating and finally gave in, "…Right." she smiled, "Let's start."

"Ok…so what is on pro side?"

"That's easy. You."

"Very good answer… and quick," he teased her and gave a kiss to her head, "Ok, and what else?"

"This life with you…"

"I think it will be a short listing, this side. So what are the contras?"

"Let's see…" she sighed, "Um…my identification, my past, people I like think I died, the sadness I cause them, the people of Genovia, hiding all the time and…"

"Ok, ok. I think I can understand," he held up his hand teasingly, "And it seems… for me, this is not going very well."

"Pro list is very short indeed, but these things are not equals Joseph. I could say there are you against everything else, but at the same time… you are everything," she whispered the last bit with a smile and in the next moment they were lost in kissing… "It's so unfair…" she murmured against his lips,

"Unfair?"

"Yes… Sorry, but I think I cannot decide if you're here."

"I was not helpful?" he teased her,

"Oh definitely, but I cannot think properly when you are near me."

"I think that was a compliment."

"Definitely," she blushed, "I mean who cares about my past or my people when you are kissing me…"

He just looked at her with a loving smile, "It seems, for me there's nothing to worry about."

"So you want me to stay?" she asked, teasing him.

"It's a total unnecessary question…" he smiled, "But yes. Yes, I want you to stay. I mean whatever will happen or wherever we have to live, we will manage it. So I say don't go back, but you have to decide it. And if you… I hope you won't end up there, but if you want to go back I will go with you. Actually… I have no choice."

"Of course you have."

"No, Clarisse…Wherever you will be, I'll be there with you."

"Now it's even harder." she sighed as he grabbed her hand.

"No, it's simple. We will be together. I just do not want you to regret whatever you chose, ok?"

"Ok," she nodded with a grateful smile, slowly letting him go...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The rest of the day passed quickly. She was sitting on the sofa for hours just thinking, while he was more and more worried. Maybe it was a mistake to let her decide it alone, because he so desperately wanted them to stay. If he would convince her, she would do it he knew… but she was such a good girl, too good to chose this new life on her own, and if she will regret it later it would ruin everything. He knew it was a perfect opportunity to leave everything behind and start a new life, but he wanted her to be happy with her choice and if she would be all the better to go back, then he will accept it. Actually he was always prepared to live there among those curious eyes, but knowing there is another option was so… but he had to let her to decide, so the only thing he could do was hoping that she will make the right decision. Choosing their new life together…

It was almost midnight when he went down again, checking if she was alright at least the hundredth time since morning…

"Clarisse..." she suddenly woke up from her own world, "Please, it's late at night. You know, you need rest… And I won't speak to you if you don't want it."

"I was just wondering that I would stay here for a few more minutes."

"You've sat there whole day, barely eat anything, I think what you could not decide you won't, I mean… you can continue it from bed."

"I…"

"We could discuss it together… or not. Please."

"…Ok," she smiled, "I'm going."

When they finally settled in bed a few minutes later, they still did not speak too much. She was curled up against him, his arms holding her tightly.

"Whatever will be…" she whispered,

"It will be ok," he smiled against her neck and drew her closer. With holding her so close, he tried to show her where she really belongs and how much he loved her …and she knew it. Although her thoughts were somewhere else, it was still magical to sink into his embrace and fall asleep surrounded by his loving arms.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Next morning he woke up relaxed, but as he opened his eyes he felt something was wrong. She was not beside him and although it was not unusual he knew this was not a good sign, so he immediately headed downstairs but abruptly stopped on the top of the stairs as he saw her.

Clarisse was standing downstairs completely dressed with her suitcases around her. She could not say anything just looked at him sadly, trying to hide her tears.

"We're going?" he asked softly… then she just nodded. "Ok… I'll be ready in a minute."

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The journey back to the palace passed by as a flash. She just sat there in silence, while Joseph tried to relax her that everything will be ok, but watching the sadness in his eyes was killing for her. He really tried to make her feel better, but his eyes could not lie. She expected that this is how it should be, but now facing with it was harder than she had ever imagined and as she was looking at him she could not think on anything else, just on their life together… how would it be… being with Joseph freely, spending her days with him, living in the friendly little house she loved so much far away from everything. Yes, far away from everything… as she looked up again, they were already in Pyrus. The streets were empty, but as they turned out from the little backstreet to the main square everything was different, she never ever seen so many people there before. Cars arrived and left everywhere, taking the curious crowd to the press conference. Everything was so noisy and so full of life, no-one paid attention to the elegant black car what now stopped in the background. No-one… except an older woman on the stage. Sylvia immediately caught Clarisse's eye in the dark car behind the crowd. Yes she waited for her, no-one excepted for the queen showing up… after all she was dead. But Sylvia was waiting for her… mostly waiting for not to come. She really hoped that Clarisse will never arrive. Her face was worried, her breathe caught in her throat, waiting for Clarisse's next move, but she just sat there for a while. Clarisse could not do anything just looked out of the window, staring at Rupert after she realized that he was standing in the middle of a few reporters on stage and everything came to her mind. All the years of suffering on his side, all the pain he caused her, all the things she knew would be exactly the same if she would go back… and she was happy. Yes happy, because she was finally sure that she made the right decision. Sylvia still watched her from afar as now she turned to the man, who was sitting at the steering wheel.

"I think it's time…" she smiled happily, "…to go home."

Joseph could not believe his ears. Although he never gave up on hoping that she will change her mind it was still so shocking, but on the best way of course. His happiness was written all over his face, as he realized what she said and what it really means for them. "Are you sure?"

"Yes." she nodded, proving that he was not dreaming. "Let's go home!"

Her smile was radiant as she turned to the window, smiling at Sylvia as they drove away. The old woman on stage did not move for a few moments just let out a sigh, then she slowly turned back to the people with full of tears in her eyes, but they didn't know… that they were tears of joy.

The End