A visit to a fortune-teller may forever change everything between Jessica and Angelo. Contains spoilers for the second half of the game.
"There is a woman in your life."
"There are many women in my life," he says, and is tempted to suggest she might enjoy joining them, but the presence of her sister - who was introduced as a dancer, but who moves like a fighter and is watching him like a hawk - convinces him to remain silent.
The fortune teller smiles a little, as if she knows his thoughts. "But this one, you love."
He opens his mouth to deny it, and somehow can't get the lie out.
Angelo was fairly certain he would have hated Charmles anyhow, even without the obviously unwanted attention he was paying Jessica. Not that Angelo couldn't understand the sentiment; Jessica was a beautiful woman, and her current armor had clearly been designed by someone who appreciated beautiful women.
But he might have hoped a prince could at least refrain from staring so blatantly and drooling on himself.
"I'm amazed you can ignore the little pig," Angelo said as they traveled toward the Royal Hunting Grounds, his voice low even though Charmles was currently napping in the wagon.
"I've had a lot of practice with obnoxious men since you joined us." He started to protest, and she silenced him with a hand on his arm. "Though I will admit, you're nothing like he is."
"Well, I suppose he's good for something, if he makes you appreciate me."
Jessica slid her arm through his and surprised him into silence with a kiss on his cheek. "I've always appreciated you."
Another card turned and placed in the pattern she's making. The fortune teller's smile falters; over her shoulder, he sees the dancer tense, and knows he's missed some signal between them.
Whatever she sees in the cards, it can't be good. He tells himself there's no reason to worry, to believe this is anything more than a well crafted performance, a bit of drama to heighten his emotions and loosen his purse-strings, but somehow that does nothing to ease the dread born of her hesitation. He finds himself leaning forward, trying to make sense of the cards spread between them.
"You will lose her," she says after a moment, "when the fall flowers are in bloom."
The apprehension eases out of him. Fall is months away; they'll have settled Dhoulmagus and parted ways long before then.
Even if parting ways is the last thing he wants to do.
He didn't see them at first, preoccupied with what had happened in Arcadia. Eventually, though, he noticed the world around them was russet and gold rather than green; even the quality of the light had changed, as if the seasons were turning around them, early summer to late autumn in the space of days.
The trees were the most obvious source of the change, fallen leaves littering the ground, bringing color to the brown-edged grass. But not the only one, he discovered when he actually started looking.
Flowers. Singly, in sheltered clumps, their spiky petals a thousand shades of ruddy gold and muted crimson.
Breath caught in his throat, he stared at them a long time, ignoring the puzzled glances of the others when he tore a handful of flowers from their stems.
The fortune teller finishes laying out the cards, but doesn't tell him what the last few show her. Then, without asking, she begins again, creating a new pattern.
"You can win her back," she says, and he thinks he hears relief in her voice. "It will not be easy, but you must not lose faith in her."
He gives up the pretense of disbelief, because now he can feel the woman's power gathering around her like an approaching storm. "There's nothing she could do that would make me lose faith in her."
"Nothing?" she asks.
Her tone sends a chill through him, and he doesn't answer.
He wasn't certain he wanted to face her.
He stayed with her, of course. They all did, after the battle, to make sure she'd wake, to make sure she was once again /Jessica/. Nobody commented that he held himself apart; he wondered if they assumed he didn't care.
They couldn't know that if she woke and wasn't herself - or, Goddess forbid, didn't wake - he would never forgive himself.
You can win her back. But you must not lose faith in her.
Only, he had. By the end, he hadn't been fighting for Jessica, he'd been grimly battling a monster that refused to die. And in the moment when she'd fallen, he'd rejoiced.
He knew he might be taking the fortune teller's words far too literally. Surely she had simply meant for them to do what they'd done, free Jess instead of abandoning her. Surely his own inflamed emotions during the battle meant nothing.
But she hadn't awakened when he healed her, and now, hours later, she still wasn't awake.
Part of him wanted to leave, find a pub and blot out everything until they knew the outcome. Only he wouldn't be able to forgive himself for not being there when she woke, any more than he'd be able to forgive himself for not being there if she didn't wake.
So he waited, a wilted gold flower crushed in his fist.