Alexander strode into the sickroom and needed only one moment to sum up the situation.
Adrian was dying, the doctor was nowhere to be seen, and Zahra was reading some of Alexander's old letters.
And Zahra was reading some of Alexander's old letters!
"What do you think you're doing?" Alexander demanded. Within the moment, he'd swiped the box from Zahra's hands and thrown it across the room. "Have you no respect of privacy?"
Zahra quickly rose to her feet. "Your Majesty - " she started.
But Alexander was not in the mood to so quickly dismiss Zahra's actions. "What are you doing? You have no right to read such personal writings!" He was incensed to see that Zahra still held a piece of paper in her hands. "Give that to me!" he growled.
"I had nothing to do - and besides, I thought you were on guard duty for the next hour!" Zahra shot back.
"Ah, so you're only sorry about getting caught?" Alexander demanded. He stooped and began to gather the strayed letters. When Zahra knelt to help, Alexander pushed her away - though not too roughly - and shot her an angry look. "Listen, I try my best not to be angry with a lady, but you have gone too far."
"How far have I gone?"
With a groan of irritation, Alexander needed to give Zahra only one silencing look before the room fell silent.
Once the letters were gathered, Alexander pointed to the doorway. "Go to your cell," he said in the calmest voice he could manage.
Zahra did not move.
"Your admirer is dying, and there you sat, reading letters which do not belong to you? Get your head on straight, Zahra. If I was any less merciful, I'd have you placed back in the cell with no permission to wander about. My father would surely have given you harsh punishment for such disrespect of privacy."
Zahra still did not move.
"Listen, Zahra. I know you want to stay here with Adrian, but I've come to sit with him. And Heaven help me, I can't stand the thought of being in the same room as you right now."
At long last, Zahra stood. "I'm sorry," she said softly, "but I believe Fate willed me to read those letters."
Eyes narrowed, Alexander gestured toward the door again. "Leave."
"I know it's not my place to speak of these things, but I want you to know that I've had my hopes dashed, too. I know I oughtn't to have read those letters, but from what I did manage to read, I know that Love has not been particularly gracious to you."
Humiliated that Zahra had read some of the letters on what "love" had done to him, Alexander did not respond to his prisoner, for fear that he would lose his temper entirely.
"For what it's worth, I've been rejected, too. My fiancee - though I never had the privilege of knowing him - refused to marry me when I was younger. It dashed my confidence. I didn't want to marry him, but I felt snubbed, all the same. I've never been the same."
Zahra left the room.