Once safely in the doctor's chambers of the castle, Alexander watched Adrian allow the pain to show on his face. "Adrian," Alexander said slowly, "you're not alright, are you?"
"I don't know," Adrian replied, groaning. "I've felt feverish for awhile now. I wonder if I caught some sort of infection from the first wound..." He gave a guttural groan that escaped through his clenched teeth. "My liege, I need to lie down." Almost swearing but catching himself halfway through, Adrian allowed Alexander to help him to a chaise lounge.
The court doctor was already readying some sort of herbal poultice to Adrian's wound. Hissing through his tightened jaw, Adrian was clearly trying to keep from crying out.
"What can I do for you?" Alexander asked, running a hand through his tousled hair. He felt helpless - the worst thing to feel.
"I-I don't know," Adrian said, and a tremble wracked his body.
Watching as the doctor and his assistants buzzed around Adrian, Alexander swore and walked briskly to the window that overlooked a small portion of the sacred grounds. Curse those sacred grounds! If they had never been held in such importance, then Zahra would have never come back into Alexander's life!
"Her name is...Zahra?" Adrian asked, in spite of his all-too-apparent pain. He finally gave a small shout of pain as the doctor began probing the wound.
"I'm sure it's not her," Alexander quickly responded. There was no use bringing more stress into Adrian's current situation.
"But what if...?"
"We won't think about that, Adrian. We can't think about that. If she's the Zahra..." Alexander stopped and shook his head. "We just won't think about it." He turned from the window and knelt beside his friend.
But before Alexander could apologize for sending Adrian out to Cor, the door to the doctor's chambers swung open. There stood Zahra, her eyes wild. "I'm sorry," she said, stumbling over the syllables of her words. "I just...couldn't stay away. I had to make sure..." And there she stopped, overcome with terror at the sight of Adrian's illness. "Oh, my," she half-whispered. "What's happened?"
As the doctor rattled off the cause of Adrian's illness - a quickly-progressing infection that had begun with Adrian's first shoulder wound - Zahra struggled to stand. Imelda, who had sneaked into the room behind her sister, looked pale, too.
"How long have you been hiding this?" Zahra asked, kneeling beside Alexander beside the place where Adrian lay.
"I didn't want to worry anyone," Adrian said, shuddering.
Zahra reached out and touched Adrian's face tenderly. "You're burning up," she whispered.
And then, Zahra lowered her head and clenched her eyes closed tightly, clearly struggling with her emotions.