The Prince and the Prisoner

Zahra watched as Alexander nodded slowly to her. She had won the duel. But it had less to do with her swordfighting skills than it had to do with the silent understanding that had passed between the prince and her.

Why did you let me win?

And then, before she could stop herself, Zahra reached out her hand. The prince took it, and instead of kissing her hand like most gentlemen would have done, he clasped her hand in both of his own. For a moment, it appeared that the prince could not speak. When he found his voice, he said with the utmost sincerity, "Thank-you, Zahra."

"It was a good match," Zahra said, but the path of her thoughts had taken a completely different direction.

The handshake was the first physical contact the prince and the prisoner had made, and for some reason, it sent a tiny jolt up Zahra's arm. Yes, both their hands were clammy from the grueling match, but there was a firmness to the prince's handshake that caused Zahra's heart to spin.

And when the prince smiled...

Oh, my. So disarming. So very disarming. Probably even more disarming than the move that had caused Alexander's sword to spin from his grasp. Heavens, Zahra hadn't expected the prince to be so beautiful. And that wasn't exactly something she said about any man.

Adrian's voice broke into the silence. "Good game, Sara," the knight-to-be. Yet from his tone of voice, Zahra could tell he'd noticed what had just occurred, too.

Prince Alexander had purposely allowed Zahra to disarm him. But the question remained...why had he done it?

But before Zahra could ask what exactly had gone on during the fencing match, the prince released Zahra's hand and turned. "I guess I've got some work to do," he said with a nod to Adrian. "I'll see you in the library as soon as I've refreshed myself."

Zahra pounced on the opportunity. "I'd like to go...with you," she said. "In fact, let's go to the library right now." For some reason, she had an unbearable desire to understand what had happened with the disarmament of the prince. Crossing her arms, she watched with amusement as the prince hesitated.

"You need to get cleaned up first," Adrian said, breaking into the conversation between Zahra and the prince. Was it just her imagination, or could Zahra detect a hint of jealousy in his tone? "Can't have you tromping around the castle in that state."

"What, do I smell bad?" Zahra asked, slightly annoyed.

"Ah...I meant Alexander," Adrian said, covering quickly. 

A smile lit Alexander's face, and he gave a soft chuckle. The sound was welcome, and for some reason that only she and the prince could understand, she laughed, too.

Something flashed in Adrian's eyes. Something akin to...anger.

The End

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