Alexander's heart sings the entire day as he counts down the hours until midnight. Ah, no. He'll go early. He's always liked to go early, just in case Alina would get there early, too.
For the first time in years, Alexander feels hope. Real hope. So much that he gets to the usual meetingplace at 11:00 - an hour earlier than Alina had requested. Alexander sits in the grass, feeling the nightly wind around him. His heart is beginning to feel whole. If Alina wants to meet with him, then - then - then -
Okay, Alexander is getting a little overexcited.
It only takes 45 minutes for Alina to arrive. It's a quarter til midnight, and Alexander's heart is flying as he sees his beloved approach.
"Alina!" Alexander whispers in complete contentment. "You came! You're not - "
But he stops short. Alina's face is pale and drawn.
"Are you alright?" Alexander asks, suddenly filled with horror. What if Alina's angry with him?
"Alexander, I'm so glad you came early. I wanted to speak with you before Conner joined us. You see, it's not going to be just you and me tonight. Conner's going to be here. And Alexander...he has some news."
Alexander reaches out and takes Alina's hand, trying to understand. "Why is Conner coming?"
"I already told you - he has some news."
Alexander can tell from Alina's expression that the news is anything but good. "So...when will he be here?"
Alina's eyes are filled with tears, and she draws away. "I don't know. Probably exactly at midnight. He's responsible like that, you know." She crosses her arms tightly across her chest and lets the tears fall. "Oh, Alexander. I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry..."
Moved by Alina's tears, Alexander cups Alina's face in his hands and kisses her lightly on the forehead. "You don't need to be sorry for anything, Alina. I'll talk to Conner tonight. I promise, I won't do anything stupid, even if the news is as bad as you seem to think it is." Alexander swallows. Hard. He kisses Alina's forehead again, heart wrenching beautifully as she leans into him and cries into his shoulder.
Alexander doesn't care what Conner has to say. No matter what the news is, Alexander will face it with courage. He owes it to Alina.