A/N: Yes, it's another Dark Prince resurrection fic. I don't need to repeat what's already been established (loved the DP's character, enjoyed the witty banter, was sad when he left) so here is my story.
You thought you had destroyed me.
A pathetic wail echoed in the Prince's mind.
But when you left, you gave me the chance to nurture my strength unhindered.
The Prince turned over in his sleep, his forehead creasing.
Without you, I can grow as powerful as I desire.
He began to murmur things, nonsense, anxiously.
Nothing will stop me from taking all I wanted before.
He cried out.
"What, what is it?" Farah mumbled, as alarmed as a half-conscious person can be. "What's wrong?"
The Prince shivered beside her. "Just a bad dream. Sorry for waking you."
She turned over, her breathing soon deepening once again. He, however, couldn't seem to get back to sleep. He knew his nemesis was gone, but weeks later the shadow still haunted his mind. Surely there was no reason to worry; the Dark Prince could not possibly return.
It had felt only natural for the Prince's friendship with Farah to deepen after they defeated the Vizier. They had been through so much together, and this time, she remembered their ordeals when they were over. The two began a normal courtship and planned to be married in the following months, after which they would rule India together. The Vizier's brutal destruction of the country meant that the people craved strong, just rulers like never before. In the meantime, while her home was rebuilt and the two royal families made arrangements for the wedding, Farah would be staying in the Persian palace.
Her father thought she was sleeping in the suite across from his. She had waited outside the entrance to his bedroom until she heard his snores and then crept across the palace to the Prince's chambers, where she was eagerly received. In the morning she would wake early and sneak back to the set of guest rooms designated as hers for the duration of the Indians' visit. Then she and her family would join the Prince and his family for breakfast, perhaps out in the gardens since it looked to be a pleasant day, and the two lovers would try to keep their smiles secret. After their adventures, they enjoyed sharing that bit of excitement and danger. It was always a thrill for Farah to run as quietly as possible down the cold corridors in her softest slippers, finally arriving breathless at the Prince's door.
Rolling over, she was surprised to find the bed too roomy. "Prince?"
A rustle of fabric. "I'm here," a voice called before its owner became visible, peeking out shirtless from behind a curtain.
Farah smiled. "Good to see you haven't run off on some adventure while I was asleep."
The Prince kissed her cheek. "I think my adventuring days are over, Farah."
"Really?" The princess sounded disappointed. "I might miss that noble hero… although I had to do the rescuing more than once." She smirked.
"Oh, don't worry, princess," the Prince said with a wink. "I'm still just as noble and heroic as ever."
"Can you be, without any crises to solve or great wrongs to right?" she wondered.
"No viziers to defeat?"
She shuddered. "I hope not."
"Twice was enough," he agreed.
As the Prince finished dressing, Farah sat on his bed in contemplative silence for a few minutes before saying with a sigh, "I should go before my father gets suspicious."
The Prince nodded. "We wouldn't want any trouble."
The day proceeded almost exactly as Farah had predicted. After an outdoor breakfast of flatbread and knowing looks, the two families took a walk through the palace gardens. Farah and the Prince managed to slip away and have a private walk of their own, outside the gardens and back into the palace.
As they roamed the corridors, the sound of their relatives' conversation wound through the stone passages ahead of them and gave the lovers enough warning to duck into the library and close the heavy doors, avoiding discovery a little longer. The Prince pulled Farah through the rows upon rows of dusty books, winding ever further inward, before pinning her against a bookcase and kissing her excited giggles into silence.
A dry but pointed cough halted their frivolity. Simultaneously their faces broke apart and whipped around toward the sound, which came from a man who looked almost as old as the library. He was sitting at a table a ways down the aisle, surrounded by ancient books. Farah tightened her grip on the Prince's hand. He gave hers a reassuring squeeze and walked toward the old man, who rose creakily from his chair to give a slow, aching bow.
"Forgive our intrusion," the Prince said with a polite nod, calm and dignified as ever. "Tell me, Old Man, do you have any words of wisdom to offer me today?"
The Old Man squinted and pursed his lips under a thinning white beard. "Only that you are acting rather imprudent, highness," he admonished. "Let us hope your foolishness causes only small blunders, from which you may learn good judgement and sense appropriate for nobility."
The Prince smiled. Farah could sense the rapport between the two men, like a blanket worn thin and ragged with fond use. "Have I introduced you to my fiancée?"
The Old Man shook his head. "Your words to me have been few indeed since you cleared up that trouble with the Sands."
"In that case," the Prince said grandly, "Let me introduce Her Royal Highness Princess Farah of India."
The Old Man began to bow, but Farah reached out to stay his groaning back, smiling. "My Prince tells me you have been a great help to him, even when he was small."
The Old Man replied with a measure of wizened humility, "I do what I can for this good country." His eyes squinted tighter. "Give me your hand, daughter." Farah complied. He studied the light golden thing with eyes grown tiny in dark sockets, moving his fingers shakily over her smooth skin. "Your beauty will endure to old age and will be carried on by your children," he told her. "You will have a life rich in those treasures which matter – joy, passion, love."
Farah smiled as he dropped her hand. "Your mentor has a true gift," she marvelled to the Prince. Her fiancé laid a hand on the Old Man's shoulder and opened his mouth to speak parting words. But when he touched the Old Man, the elder's eyes grew wide and he gripped the Prince's hand. "Prince," he said in a peculiar wheezing voice, as if the words drained him. "be vigilant. The enemy is still near. That which you fear may rise again to strike you."
Horror filled the Prince's features. "No," he said. "He's gone."
The Old Man shook his head slowly, sadly. "He is a part of you. He never left."
"But…" The Prince struggled for words. "What must I do to be rid of his foul presence?"
"I cannot say. Only: do not grow careless. Be wary that your enemy waits to prey on vulnerabilities. I will do what I can to divine a method for his destruction. Go now. Remain alert, but do not let the thought of that evil one consume you."
As they left the library, the Prince said not a word to Farah, only walked in troubled silence. She hurried to keep up with his grim steps. "Last night," she ventured, "is that what—"
"Yes," came the curt reply.
Farah stopped walking. After a few seconds, the Prince turned to see her standing with her hands on her hips, glaring at him. He sighed. "Now is not the time, Farah."
"The time for what? You to tell me what's going on?" She stood there stubbornly as he took a step toward her.
"I don't know what's going on," he said heavily. "I thought it—he—it was gone."
After a flash of pity, the sharpness left her eyes, leaving only intense frustration. They walked together out into the gardens, in the hopes that the lively foliage would provide some cheer. The Prince told her wearily that he couldn't feel any traces of his dark counterpart during his waking hours, but at night the evil one crept into his dreams and tormented him with possibilities. Even months after the Vizier's defeat, the Prince had not yet recovered from the horror of having his body subjugated and his mind besieged by what was, in terrifying reality, a part of himself. He remembered all too well Farah's initial fear and revulsion upon discovering that weakness, and he saw traces of those on her face now, although she bravely tried to mask them with compassion. Now she held him and told him it would be alright, and he tried very hard to believe her.