Good Night, Sweet Prince – Part 5

Following the battle…

**

Ilya was more than a little surprised when the king’s health took a turn for the better.  It seemed that he hadn’t been injured as badly as they’d initially feared.  The people proclaimed it a miracle.  Ilya was filled with dread.  Would Petrov order him to kill the king?  He was no assassin!

The queen’s elder brother had returned to the castle earlier that day.  He was keeping vigil with his younger brother.  Lord Andrien had yet to regain consciousness.  His wounds were infected and he was fighting to survive.  A part of Ilya prayed he would die.  At least that might mollify Petrov’s anger somewhat.  However, he also felt horrible to thinking that way.

“God, forgive me,” he breathed, blessing himself.  He startled when someone spoke up.

“You worship the Stormbringer?” they asked.

Ilya flushed and spun around to find Lord Northhunter standing there.  Ducking his head, he shrugged.  “My mother did, my lord,” he said, keeping his voice soft.  “I – I sort of follow her ways and those of my father at the same time.”

Lord Northhunter nodded sagely.  “And for what did you feel you needed forgiveness?”

This was harder to answer.  He’d have to lie.  He shrugged and then looked up at the older man through his lashes.  “I was craven during the attack, my lord,” he said, keeping his voice soft and allowing the flush of color to stain his cheeks deeply.  The noble would take that as embarrassment.  “I hid.”  That would explain his absence, if anyone even noticed it.

Nodding, Lord Northhunter said, “How fares the king?”

“B-better, my lord,” he said blinking at the change in subject.  “They’re saying it’s a miracle, but…” he trailed off with a shrug.  “Maybe it simply wasn’t his time.  Anyway, the magister feels he will recover soon enough.  It may not be a complete recovery, but he’ll live and be able to continue ruling.”

“Good news indeed,” Lord Northhunter said.  Nodding, he continued down the corridor.  As he vanished around a corner, he called, “You might get the bruise on your neck examined, little one.”

Ilya’s hand went to his neck, where Petrov had grabbed him and he shivered.  He pulled the fabric of his tunic closer and released a deep sigh.  At least Northhunter hadn’t asked who it was that had given him the bruise.  He wasn’t quite sure how he could have answered that question.

The king was still recovering in bed, but he was well enough that the councilors felt secure in going to his room to meet with him.  Ilya hadn’t been back to the man’s room since the day after the failed attack.  Instead, he’d been called upon to care for Lord Andrien.

The dwarf was still unconscious, so the healers had decided to sustain him with a mixture of honey and water.  It would, they hoped, give his body time to heal.  Ilya was sitting at his bedside, spooning the mixture into his mouth slowly.  His brows were furrowed as he worked.  It would easy to kill him, but Ilya was no assassin.  Besides, Petrov hadn’t ordered him to do that.  In fact, he was neglecting Petrov’s commands to obey his current ones.

“I don’t know why you’re still asleep, my lord,” Ilya said, his voice soft and his tone polite.  “Your father’s expected tomorrow, though.  It might be better if you woke before he got here.”  Ilya doubted that the man’s father would pay him a visit, but from what Ilya had heard from the magister, Lord Andrien wouldn’t have wanted to be unconscious when if his old man happened to stop in.

Ilya blinked when the patient stirred for the first time in nearly a week.  He blinked and looked at Lord Andrien’s meal.  The bowl was all but empty.  After setting it aside, he hurried out of the room to find one of the healers.

He found the person he’d been seeking standing in a sunlit corridor with Sir Georgi.  Ilya bit his lip and waited until one of them noticed him standing there.  He’d learned early on that, no matter the reason, he couldn’t interrupt.  Finally, the knight noticed him.

“Did you require something?” he asked, his brows furrowing.

Ilya bowed and looked at the healer.  “Lord Andrien stirred,” he said, his voice faint.  “I believe he’s waking?”

“Thank you, Ilya,” the healer said, waving at him to leave.  As Ilya stepped to one side, the pair hurried towards Lord Andrien’s room.  A faint smile touched his lip as he realized that at least one person cared enough to be there when he woke.

He heaved a light sigh and then returned to Lord Andrien’s bedchamber.  The healer had already left, but Sir Georgi was still there, standing by the window.  Ilya began tidying around him, being as quiet as he could.  He could sense the nervous anticipation from the older man.  He wanted his younger brother to wake.  Ilya could also tell that it was only a matter of time before he got his wish.

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