An inexplicable calm settled over Alexander's soul as he watched Zahra leave the castle grounds. Yes, he felt pain in watching the young prisoner leave, but the Prince knew he was doing the right thing. And frankly, he hadn't done the right thing in ever so long...
Several minutes passed as Alexander stared at the closed gates, standing alone on his balcony. Finally, he turned and knew what he had to do next.
Adrian was sick, and still Alexander was pining for some strange girl who he barely even knew?
Heading for the sickroom, Alexander forced himself to shove his aloneness to the side. Now that Zahra was gone, the loneliness intensified tenfold. But no matter. He was a grown man; he ought to be able to cope with his problems without bringing them to the side of his dying friend. There were more important matters at hand.
Opening the door to the sickroom, Alexander acknowledged the doctor's perfunctory bow with a quick nod.
"He's not well, Your Highness."
Nodding again, Alexander moved to place a chair beside the knight's bedside, then thought better of it. He knelt beside his dying friend and let out a long breath.
"I can't get to sleep tonight, Adrian, and it's all your fault," the Prince muttered, but there was only pain in his voice, no annoyance.
The doctor, as though sensing Alexander's need for privacy, left the room.
"I've done something - no, two things - and I hope you won't hate me because of them. I've invited one woman you care for to come to the castle, and I've let another woman you care for leave it. I don't know what I've done, Adrian, but I'm trying to do what's best for everyone."
"I'm trying to do what's best for everyone because...I realize that I haven't always listened to your wisdom. I'm trying to do what you'd do, if you were in my shoes." Alexander swore and looked away. "God help me, I still haven't got your wisdom. But I want to become the prince you always told me I could be. You know how I told you to live life for yourself? Well, now I see that that wasn't good advice at all. Life isn't meant to be lived for oneself. I've been a fool, Adrian. Please, get well so that you can help me out here. I'm just not meant to be a prince."
Alexander was rarely sentimental or emotional, but it seemed as though the urgency of the situation caused the words to flow from his lips without warning. Sighing, he rested his head on his arms and bared his soul one last time.
"I'm not made for this, Adrian. You simply have to get better. I'm a sorry excuse for a ruler. I should have paid more mind to your example while you were at my side. I need you to get well."
One lonely tear squeezed its way through Alexander's lashes and fell on the cold stone floor.