Milos was on his way to see how the lordling was doing. Not that he cared much about his wellbeing, but it was the only place he could get some quiet. His study was no longer a sanctuary, as his father visited often and everywhere else he went in the palace he was cornered by crooning nobles and cowering servants. Doran’s room was the only place that no one would look for him. That was the only place he could come and just think. The nights in his room were quiet, but then when alone with Aliana he didn’t do much thinking then. He smiled already looking forward to the evening to come.
He passed the physician Creous standing outside the corridor. Twiddling his thumbs absently.
“You’ve finished with the prisoner?”
“Not yet Your Highness. The princess is currently speaking, well arguing, with him and she requested that I waited until their discourse was through.”
“I see.” he then walked towards the door. The guards were about to bow but he stopped them.
He heard Doranand’s voice, “You betrayed all of Arnay! For what? Love? You had love Ali, my wounds are proof of that. Then again, my love would have never been enough as you never loved me, not like you do Milos.”
His heart leaped. Had Aliana told Doranand that he loved him? He would have hoped that she would have told him first. He didn’t wait long for her response, “I don’t love Milos.” she said and immediately all hope was lost. He truly thought that they’d been making real progress this week.
She had been more open with him, more affectionate. She had even shared secret smiles that she reserved for his eyes only. He also heard what she had said to the barons to get her father to send him the soldiers. He really thought that... He thought too much. Of course she wouldn’t love someone like him. He stepped away from the door and up the stairs leaving the others to wonder at his retreat.
He walked up to the kitchen. “Wine where is it?” he barked startling half the servants in the room.
“Here, it is. Do you want it watered?” asked Bartemus taking a goblet along with him.
“No this will be fine.” he said taking the entire amphora and headed upstairs. By the time he’d gotten to his room, the jug was half empty and he could feel the unsteadiness in his gait.
He hadn’t been drunk in almost two years and he did not miss the feeling. He headed out to the balcony intending to drain the bottle. He placed it at his lips, but then pushed it away cursing. He then chucked the jar out into the yard.
He would not go down that path again. His country would need him level-headed. If only Genos was alive. Noble, perfect Genos. He really wished he was alive. He had spent years resenting his brother, but only now did he really understand how he must have felt. With all the expectations of the court placed on him, he couldn’t be anything but perfect. Perfection no longer appealed to him. It was a trap. One he detested.
The door of his room opened. “Milos there you are.” said his father. “There is something I wanted to discuss with you.” he said meeting him on the balcony.
“Sure, let us go into the study.” he said happy that he didn’t slur.
His father watched his face, “Is something wrong Milos, you don’t seem yourself.” Meaning, you seem your old self, by his father’s expression.
“I had wine,” he admitted. “Not too much to be drunk, but enough to make my head light.”
“I thought you’d given up on hard drink.” said his father sounding disappointed.
“I have, that why the rest of the amphora is out there and not empty beside me. Could we just stand for a while?” he said.
“Of course.” he said leaning on the balcony. “I can imagine that being back has been hard for you especially having so many expectations laid at your feet. If this war or the court is becoming too much for you, I would prefer holding them back than have you going back to the bottle.” he said softly.
“It isn’t you or the war. In fact the war is giving me something to focus on. Keeping me sane.”
“Then what is it?” he pressed.
“It is nothing. At least it’s something I’d known but had deluded myself that it would change. But enough of that. You came to ask something of me.”
“Father, I am not drunk. See.” he said climbing on the balcony railing and walked along the edge.
“Okay Milos, point proven now come down before I die of a heart attack.”
He jumped down. “We wouldn’t want that to happen or I would actually have to be king of Garion.”
“I am not worried about that, as I have the feeling that you would end up making a fine king.” he said placing his arm around his shoulders.
“I really hope I don’t make you regret those words father. The last time you complimented me, you took it back immediately.”
“Yes, when you told me that you had impregnated Aliana and was going to marry her.” he laughed. “Was that only two weeks ago.”
“You proved me wrong. The princess is a bit temperamental, but not a bad person. Your mother seems to be fond of her. You seem fond of her, so it wasn’t a bad match after all.”
“Yes well,” he cleared his throat. He didn’t want to bring up Aliana right now, just as the wine had started to ease the prickling. “Is it Nilian that you wished to speak about?”
“Yes, Kilikos suggested that...”
They talked at length discussing their next move when Aliana walked in. “Your Majesty, I am sorry if I am interrupting. I will come back at another time.” she said.
“There is no need for that, we were finished.” he then turned back to Milos. “I really don’t like this new plan of yours and your mother is going to be worse.” he said.
“But we both see where this could be the best chance of ending the war.”
His father nodded his head. “The decision ultimately lies with you and I will support your decision whatever it is.” he said patting him on the shoulder once and then walked out.
He noted that Aliana looked sadder than usual, possibly because of having to be in the same room with him after meeting with her beloved Doran. He could kick himself for not putting him back on that ship to Arnay.
“What plan? What is your father talking about?”
“I am going back to Arnay. We both agree that Ana-Moriah is the problem. If we stop her, we can stop the war.”
“Then good. I will come with you.” she said.
“No you’re not. You are staying here.”
“Like hell I am!”
“Like hell you are! This isn’t a discussion Aliana. You could be carrying my heir. I will not disrupt the succession of the Garian throne by bring you on a battlefield.”
“Milos...” she started to protest.
“This discussion is over.” he said darkly.
“Fine,” she said walking over to the bed and threw herself down. “But when do you leave or am I not allowed to ask?” were those actual tears in her eyes. Well damn him. The only time he’d ever seen her cry was after she spoke with her father and after Doranand’s betrayal.
He sighed heavily, she might not love him, but gods above he loved her. Her tears burned him deeper than anything else could. “I am sorry for shouting.” he said coming to sit beside her.
“You are going to leave me here alone.” she said as she rested her head on his shoulder.
“You won’t be alone, you have my parents.” And Doranand. He closed down the pain that had started welling up in the pit of his chest.
“It won’t matter. Garion won’t be the same without you here.” That sounded like something one would say to someone whom they loved. But he would not travel that path anymore. She didn’t love him. It was nice to pretend however that she did.