Adrian gazed out the window of his chamber, resting his head against the glass in a vain attempt to keep his dark brunette hair out of his intense gray eyes. These same eyes searched the landscape as if the answer to his questions lay in the view out of his tower room. The beauty of the trees, the plains, and the cloud-shrouded mountains, looking like old women in winter, all was lost upon him, for he was troubled beyond anything he had ever experienced. The games of chess and war, the tricks and lies of life, none had left him so puzzled. How could he be feeling this? How could he feel something so simple, yet so troubling? He had thought it was impossible, he had thought his heart was dead. But it was not.
A soft knock on the door caused Adrian to jump as if a clap of thunder had sounded in his ear, despite the clear day. A grinning face, complete with tousled blonde hair and dancing green eyes, popped through, calling him to come join the group for a picnic luncheon. "Oh all right, Phillip, but you know I'm only going because otherwise you'll all rush in here and drag me out anyway," he heard himself consent. Why did I say that? He thought. I just want to stay in here alone with my thoughts! He gathered his jacket and exited his room into the noise and excitement of the group of young people, all between the ages of 17 and 23, living pretty much on their own, but all in the same castle, in the court of King Demetrius and Queen Helena. He, being 23, was one of the oldest, but that didn't change the fact that they treated him with great camaraderie. Adrian immediately fell towards the end of the line, being in a hostile, shut-up-and-go-away mood. Despite this, Aemelia fell in beside him, and proceeded to attempt a conversation. He heard barely half of what the young lady (though she was only two years his junior) said, being completely absorbed in watching she who caused his heart such trouble.
"Adrian?" He blinked and shook his head as if waking, then responded, "What? Sorry, just a bit tired, you know...." He trailed off, not wishing to make a bigger idiot of himself than he already had by ignoring her words. As she turned with a cheery smile to another friend, he berated himself mentally for letting himself slip in public. You idiot, if you do that again you'll be found out. You know... all thoughts of reproach failed as he glanced up and caught her merry flash of a smile. He found that every time she smiled just that way, he had trouble thinking at all. He tried not to stare at the long honey-russet hair that fell to just above a perfectly shaped waist, covered in blue satin that set off the almost violet hint in her deep blue eyes. Instead he turned to the conversation Phillip and Edmund were having regarding last week's tournament results. He didn't need to think about her, not today, not if he wanted to seem happy.
Out of the castle gates spilled a group of happily singing youths, who tramped across the grass with their hampers of food, out on a day of picnic. They sang, laughed, and generally acted young, believing that the world was theirs for the taking. Except Adrian, who beneath the rowdily singing exterior fought off waves of misery. Not a soul knew except his that he planned today, to do something that would force a young heart to grow quickly. But he pretended anyway, for if he let his true heart go he would hurt more people than he ever had in battle. That was one thing military leadership had taught him- detachment. He could watch the merrymaking of others, even participate, and not feel a thing. He could watch groups of his friends run races in the meadow and laugh, while pondering where next he would be stationed. He could watch Aemelia laugh, and run, and spin with anyone who cared to join her without batting so much as an eyelash. Or so he liked to believe. Which was why he rarely tried it, if for some reason it should not work.