Sara took a deep breath. "I have two younger sisters," she began. "Imelda and Grazenni. They are my pride and joy. I don't know what I'd do without them, to be honest. The thing is...they don't know how to protect themselves. I just...I feel responsible if they're out there, fending for themselves." Sitting up more straightly, Sara narrowed her eyes at Alexander. "How was I supposed to know that those were sacred grounds?" she hissed.
Sensing that Sara was ranting and not really asking a question, Alexander waited.
"So here I am, unable to get back to my sisters who depend upon me for survival. My parents, bless their souls, were never very emotionally stable...I don't even want to think about the awful state my family is probably in right now!"
"Do you know where they are?"
Sara raised her eyebrows. "Why do you care?"
You probably wouldn't want to know why I care, Alexander thought, so he held his tongue.
"Really, Alexander. Why do you want to know? So you can further harm our family?"
Tempted to remind Sara that it was Adrian who had captured her, but not wanting to endanger Sara's feelings by doing so, Alexander took a deep breath. "I think that maybe you ought to go back to them."
Sara's eyes widened, and she grew deathly pale. "Wh-what?"
"Perhaps you should go back to them," Alexander said, though he was well aware that he would be punished unspeakably if his father found out that he'd pardoned a prisoner without the king's approval.
"Oh, my..." Sara stood and gave a slight squeal. "Please, tell me you're not joking," she said, nearly voiceless in the midst of her excitement. She closed her eyes and shuddered with joy.
Heart dancing at the sight of Sara's happiness, Alexander tried to focus on what was right instead of what was legal. "Of course I'm not joking," he said, wondering what Adrian would do when he learned of Alexander's hasty decisions. He would probably be shocked beyond repair.
"Oh, Alexander," Sara whispered, suddenly choked up.
"We ought to wait until Adrian comes back, though," Alexander reasoned. "You'd need an escort, and I wouldn't want to entrust you to anyone else."
"I can't believe this..." Sara whispered, bouncing on her heels. Suddenly, she turned and met Alexander's eyes. "What will happen to you if you let me go?"
"That's not important. What's important is getting you back to your family."
What have I done? But for the first time in a long time, Alexander knew he was making the right decision.
And then, much to Alexander's surprise, Sara gave a high-pitched shriek and threw her arms around the prince. "Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!" she exclaimed.
Alexander laughed and hugged Sara back.
It was then that the door to the balcony flew open. A pageboy stood there. "Oh, sorry," the pageboy stammered, seeing Alexander's and Sara's embrace. He made a move to walk away.
Pulling away from Sara, Alexander motioned for the boy to come back. "What is it?"
"It's the knight Adrian, my liege. He's come back. He's wounded. And he's got a lady with him."