Revelations in Sand
How is this real?
Aladdin peered throughout the expanding and intensifying crowds of people below him and felt a pang of anxiety creep along his spine. A thin band of sweat began to perspire along his brow as his knees began to shake, threatening to buckle as he wavered. The sun pressed oppressively on his clothing, further warming his formal attire and causing him to long for his simple vest and pants he was accustomed to. The turban on his head seemed to tighten with each passing moment; the band pressing against his forehead as he fought the increasing desire to snatch it off and run his fingers through his hair. Thankful for the balustrade before him, he gripped the railing tightly as he tried to compose his irresolute form. His heart beating erratically, nearly bursting from his chest, he tried to focus his thoughts on simply controlling his pulse. Eternally appreciative no one could hear his apprehensive thoughts or detect his escalating anxiety, he fought back wave after wave of vertigo as spots danced before his eyes. This was absolutely not the time to feel faint, and he was inwardly embarrassed to be feeling so.
This cannot be real.
The cheers and exclamations from the people below were stifled by the pounding of Aladdin's heart. The rush of blood to his head was drowning out the sounds from the city and threatening to completely shut down his vision. He could handle half-dead mamluks, fire beasts, malicious incarnate, and any other crazy evil demon, yet he was nearly passing out from this. The thought almost made him laugh. He tried to focus on one person at time, to coax his mind into overlooking the truly sprawling quantity of people below the balcony, but he could not obscure his thoughts long enough to recuperate control of his heartbeat. Everything began to blur. He should be ecstatic, he noted, this was a celebration and the people were certainly rejoicing in his presence, however despite his ease with crowds in the past, he had never been before them like this. The last time he had felt this sense of inadequacy, he was merely pretending to be a prince as Jasmine's father had introduced him to the people as Prince Ali. However, it was nothing compared to this. He had never stood before them with actual power. He had never stood before them as anything but an equal, as anything but another commoner. Until now.
I am the Sultan of Agrabah.
Forming the words in his mind nearly sent him into another vertigo spell as he gripped the banister even tighter. His knuckles whitened as he pushed an insincere smile across his lips, doing his best to appear calm, confident, and prepared. Feeling a new wave of nausea wash over him, his thoughts began to panic anew. Despite the past year of organizing for this day, he never thought of it as something truly attainable. He had spent months upon months analyzing legal documents, studying diplomacy books, learning the basics of regal behavior; yet everything he had learned seemed to empty from him instantaneously as he looked over the people he now ruled. The people appeared joyous; delighted by the sight of their new Sultan, a Sultan that once shared the streets with them, ate with them, spoke with them … survived with them. They truly believed in Aladdin, believed he could help their lives because he had once been where they stood. He understood what it meant to steal to survive, to appreciate the minor things in life, and would always shield them from the inequalities they once shared with him. The absolute last thing he would ever want to do was let them down.
He gave them hope. Hope they could change their stars. Hope they could aspire to more than what they were born with. Hope they could become anything, do anything, go anywhere and live any life they sought to develop. He had become a symbol to the people of Agrabah, and despite the slow acceptance of some, he had truly given the people optimism, courage and security. He would protect them until his last breath, fight for their well-being, and would stand against any opposition to ensure their continued way of life. He would pursue new avenues to improve their living conditions, push for fair wages, and most importantly (to this many smiled at the thought) he would set standards with the royal guards to prevent from unnecessary negative influence. For him, for Aladdin, they cried out in joy; yelled his name, praised Allah for their new leader, and cheered for the future of their city.
I am the Sultan of Agrabah.
His words kept flashing in his mind, as though his subconscious was attempting to make him believe his own words. Make him believe his reality. Make him believe he truly deserved this life. In actuality, his own doubts would continue to skulk in and disrupt the ideas of bliss, the ideas he earned the right to stand in this very spot and wear the title he was recently bestowed. His hands felt clammy under the railing and he slightly released his grip as his fingers started to cramp. They had been standing on the balcony for only a few short minutes, yet to Aladdin it felt like days had gone by.
Beside him, a soft hand rested on his forearm and squeezed tenderly, reassuring Aladdin as his rapid thoughts blasted through his mind. He turned his attention from the people below, and as his gaze met with Jasmine's, everything seemed to slow. She could sense his discomfort, could see the panic swelling in his heart. She smiled at him, her eyes brightening as she felt his unease begin to fade, as if to tell him, 'you do deserve this, Aladdin'. Without a spoken word, she had the ability to draw Aladdin's attention from the deafening cheers below and ease his apprehension. For a moment, it was just them. Just as it always had been. He needed nothing else. He took a deep and shaky breath and genuinely smiled at Jasmine before turning back to the people. He took her hand in one of his, and waved to the people with the other. The doubts continued to tumble through his mind, weave throughout his confidence, and sting every fiber within his being, yet he relaxed feeling Jasmine's hand within his own. No one was expecting him to instantly sit upon the throne and immediately know what to do regarding every aspect of the kingdom, yet with his own personal standards so high, and the resilient desire to please the people and his wife, he was beginning to feel an increasingly heavy weight rest upon his shoulders.
Feeling the time on the balcony finally coming to a close, Aladdin began to calm. These were now his people. His citizens. He had an infinite amount of work before him, yet knowing they were depending on his every move was motivation enough. He continued to smile and wave to the people with Jasmine, the anxiety washing away as he began to feel a sense of delirious delight. It amazed him as he thought how nauseous and faint he had been feeling just a few short moments before.
Turning to Jasmine again, he laughed, "Do you ever get used to it? This feeling?" He knew he didn't have to explain to her any further.
She giggled at his sense of bewilderment, "No, you really don't."
Her own smile matching his, she looked at Aladdin with an overabundance of love, admiration, and desire. She had watched him throughout the day during coronation and felt every pang of discomfort, anxiety, and fear he had felt. His pain was hers. She wished she could say the right words to him, to make him truly believe his worth, yet over the years they had been together it was something he had struggled with since the very first moment in an alley of the marketplace he learned she was a Princess. Yet now, she exhaled, she was a Sultana. Her own reality had been an afterthought as she had constantly worried about Aladdin throughout the day and it finally began to strike her as well. Her father had passed nearly a month before, peacefully in his sleep after battling a long illness. An illness, she sighed, similar to the one her mother had been stricken with when Jasmine was barely six. She had come to accept the passing of her father, grasped his blessing of her future life, and tried to focus on what was to come for her and Aladdin. She had been a Princess for so long; she wasn't sure how to begin this entirely new existence.
Lost within her own thoughts, she hadn't noticed Aladdin looking upon her again. When she turned towards him, he surprised her and the seemingly thousands of onlookers, with a quick and impulsive kiss. The crowds erupted with jubilant cheers, applauding the visible display of affection from their new rulers. They had seen the courtship, the wedding, and every ounce of true love this couple possessed, and knowing this was a marriage made from love, not obligation, made all the difference to the people of Agrabah. It was as if they were all part of this epic story, this epic love, which was now a partnership working for the betterment of the entire populous.
Upon breaking the kiss, Aladdin and Jasmine waved one final time to the city before returning into the palace. The cheers continued even after they had left the balcony as the people continued to celebrate together, merry and enthusiastic for the future of Agrabah. As they walked into the palace, Aladdin released a heavy sigh.
"I don't know how much longer I could have stood out there," he confessed, leaning against the nearest wall as they exited the balcony. As if to calm the torrent of emotions swirling within him, Aladdin closed his eyes and rested the back of his head against the marble wall.
"Aladdin," Jasmine smiled, "You did wonderfully today. I am so proud of you; I know this was a difficult day." She approached him, gently placing her hands along his jaw, meeting her eyes with his. She could read every ounce of his doubt, every bit of fear. She knew he was absolutely terrified.
He sighed once again, breaking away from her. Glancing back out towards the balcony, hearing the roars from the crowd, he shook his head and finally voiced the question he had been struggling with the entire day. The entire time he had been with her, "Jasmine, what if I can't do it?"
"I don't have a doubt in my mind you will be an absolutely wonderful Sultan, Aladdin. You already are an incredible husband. You won't be alone, either; you know I'll be here to help you along the way, along with everyone else in this palace. You care more about those people than any ruler before, including my father." She paused as he turned back towards her incredulously, "He was a very kind and benevolent Sultan, but neither he, nor any other past Sultan of Agrabah understands the people like you. You will learn how to handle the everyday requirements of royalty, but you already possess the single most important trait needed to be a successful Sultan; you have a pure and compassionate heart. The rest will come in time."
He smiled as she approached him again, this time wrapping his arms around her waist. "Jasmine, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love you." His earlier anxiety had almost completely vanished as he felt the warmth of his wife in his arms, smelled her intoxicating fragrance, and heard the delicate sounds of her voice.
"Well, it's a good thing I already know," she smiled and clasped her hands behind his neck, drawing him closer to her. She pulled him to her for a long and tantalizing kiss, an exchange he had been craving throughout the day as they had gone through and completed the formalities of their coronation ceremony. With only the final dinner banquet before them, he was already counting down the final minutes until they would be alone together again, free to enjoy the evening as they wished without the multitude of servants, guards, and advisors that had been following them around the entirety of the day.
Inwardly wishing he hadn't jinxed his own thoughts as footsteps approached, he pulled Jasmine closer as she tried to break the embrace, "Just a few more minutes," he pleaded, tenderly kissing her neck, breathing in the inebriating floral scent of his wife, longing for her. "We can tell them to go away," he suggested with a devilish grin.
Jasmine laughed and playfully tried to push him away, "We have to head back downstairs," she continued to giggle. "You know they're coming for us. We were supposed to be getting ready for dinner already." Groaning, he allowed her to break free, disgruntled with the interruption of servants who quickly approached.
"Your highness," a servant quietly addressed Aladdin as she bowed, nearly causing him to do a double-take. It was the first time someone had referred to him with that title. He wasn't sure how to feel about it, as he was still trying to wrap his mind around the swarm of changes that had already occurred throughout the day. As Aladdin looked at her in disbelief, she continued, "We need to prepare you for dinner, sire."
As Jasmine was leaving with her own flock of servants, she overheard the discussion and giggled, sensing his astonishment at the new titles the servant was addressing him by. She paused, turning back towards Aladdin and the servant girl, "See you at dinner, your majesty," she said regally as she bowed lightheartedly. Aladdin chuckled slightly at her humorous quip, and shook his head, watching Jasmine grin lovingly at him before leaving. He briefly saw Carpet cross the hallway and follow Jasmine, eager to help her arrange the final details of the banquet. He so desperately wanted to sprint after her and clasp her within his arms, never to let go. However, as he rubbed his eyes and sighed, he knew those carefree days were behind them, and he had to adapt to the formal title he was now given.
"All right," he finally said to the patient servant girl, eager to help the new Sultan. The last thing he wanted to do after their incredibly long day was to entertain the foreign dignitaries, rulers, and diplomats, however this was his new reality. He briefly worried their enthusiasm would not be quite as encouraging as the cheers from his people, that they would not be as accepting towards him, yet he didn't allow the thought to linger long. The only bright side, he thought, was knowing Jasmine and his friends would be alongside him. As Genie and Abu entered the room, chattering away about how excited they were for Aladdin and congratulating him warmly, he smiled feeling his nervousness begin to fade again. The sooner they were done with dinner, the sooner he would have Jasmine to himself again. "Let's get this over with."