Chapter 56: Eric's POV

Carrying Ava back into the house was difficult, but I managed. I would have otherwise tried to get someone to help me, but I knew all of the guards still seemed unhappy and uncomfortable with her here and I knew that she would be uncomfortable being naked in another man's arms, not to mention how I would feel about that.

Still, I made it indoors and then to Dr. Seavers' office, thankfully down here on the ground floor. He was already in his actual office, studying something through a microscope when I entered. When he saw me, he took Ava from me and put her on the bed. It was almost comical seeing a twelve-year-old boy hold a grown woman like that, but now was no time for laughing and, where I would have done so in any other circumstance, I didn't now.

Dr. Seavers had me sit down in a chair then, probably noting the worn look on my own face. "You shouldn't have been walking around in the first place, your majesty," he told me, "Let alone carrying the poor girl. Please, tell me what happened."

While he worked on Ava and setting all of her bones right (there were a lot of shattered bones. Her hips and shoulders seemed to have come off the worst and her ribs were slightly fractured from the fall as well. Her head had hit the ground really hard, too, Dr. Seavers told me, and he had to put stitches in her head. She had gotten a few other cuts from her fall, but nothing that caused any concern of her bleeding out), I told him about the scene with my father. He was nearly finished by the time I had.

"I don't understand," I said, miserably. "I… My father… Why is he so angry lately? He's had temper issues before, but nothing like this."

Dr. Seavers was pulling the blankets up over Ava's exposed body. He turned to me. "Your father has become increasingly stressed as of late. I fear he may not be telling you everything, son, and that worries me. He is attempting to take on so many woes by himself. On top of his duties as the king, your father's heart condition is only growing worse. I believe this to be in correlation with his stress, but he takes no warning from me." Dr. Seavers smiled slightly and shook his head. "I am only the doctor after all. What do I know?"

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. "None of that excuses his explosion tonight."

"I am sure he would disagree," Dr. Seavers answered. He moved over to me. "Remove your shirt for me." I did so and then Dr. Seavers proceeded to go through and check my injuries, patching me up where needed.

Finally, after Dr. Seavers was finished with me, he left the room to Ava and me. I felt exhausted and it was all I could do to not fall asleep. I forced myself to be alert, watching and listening in case my father came back to "check" on us. After an hour, I could no longer keep myself up and I fell asleep.

"Eric," I heard someone faintly calling my name. Their voice was weak and I thought I had imagined it at first. "Eric," I heard again, this time a little louder.

I opened my eyes and sat up in my seat. Immediately, I noticed Ava was awake. I got out of my chair, ignoring my protesting body and moved to her side. "Hey," I said, forcing a small smile on my face. "How are you feeling?" Bruises were starting to form on her, now, and I refrained from flinching at the sight.

"Really bad," she whimpered slightly. "Is there any water in here?"

"I'll go get you some," I said, starting to rise. Her hand shot out and grabbed mine and, for a moment, she looked terrified.

"No," she said, "I'm not that thirsty, never mind."

Puzzled, I sat beside her again. I kept my hand in hers and leaned down and kissed her. "I'm not going to let anything happen," I told her.

Just then, Dr. Seavers came into the room. He had a bowl of soup, a large cup of ice water, and another large cup full of blood. He set these things down on the bedside table.

"Thank you, doctor," I said, with a slight nod.

"Thanks," Ava said.

Dr. Seavers nodded and smiled. "I have pain medicine as well if you would like it, madame," he said.

Ava looked ready to turn it down, so I spoke up for her. "It would be appreciated," I said. Dr. Seavers was soon leaving the room again.

I turned to face Ava, putting a hand on her arm. "You need to take medicine," I told her, calmly. "And you need to rest."

Ava frowned and shifted a little, but that seemed to hurt her as she flinched. "I'm scared," she breathed, her eyes suddenly moving off to the side, avoiding me.

I went down on my knees next to her and put a hand on her cheek, carefully moving her head over so that she'd face me. "Of what," I asked her. I kissed her softly and pulled away again, searching her face. Though, I did not know what exactly I was looking for.

"Your dad," she answered. She looked up at me again and I saw her lip tremble just a little. "What if he comes back to finish me off," she asked. "What if –"

This was where I could have told her 'I told you so'. All of those times I tried to keep her from my father, tried to tell her she could not go up against him. Instead, I simply put a finger to her lips and kissed her cheek.

"I'm not going to let him kill you," I promised her. "You're too important to me." Ava closed her eyes.

"You can't fight him off every time," she said, softly.

Dr. Seavers stepped back into the room with the painkillers. He smiled at us both, his child-like face lighting up. "Would you like her to be moved to a more comfortable room, or is this fine?"

I looked at Ava. "If you stay here, the doctor can watch out for you when I can't," I said, lowly, though I knew Dr. Seavers would be able to hear.

Ava nodded. "I'll stay here then," she said, weakly.

Author's Note: So, I lied. I had finished this chapter as well before I fell into my slump. So, here's another chapter. I'll start on chapter 57, now.