He looked over at his friend, his pale blue eyes pulled in pain. Yes, he could admit it now. The man was his friend. Oh, but why couldn't he have had said that earlier, before the man he cared for so dearly had been injured so gravely.

Now that he could admit it, it was too late.

He brushed his hand through the dark hair, moving it away from the fevered brow. He remembered the time when they had first met, a battle of wills and wit from the very start. A relationship foreign to him. He was the prince. That meant respect and feigned friends wherever he went. That meant he was never challenged, never questioned, completely and utterly alone.

And this incredulous peasant, a nobody, stood up to him, calling him "friend". And that he became. The most loyal, brave, and unnaturally happy person a man could ever hope to encounter. Easily befriending everyone he came across, he soon became the life of the city. Helping anyone in need, sacrificing his time for strangers. He was loved. And now he was fighting for his life in the middle of the darkened forest with only a prat of a prince.

Memories continued to flicker through his mind. From quests and patrols to simply getting dressed in the morning, he was always there. Always just there with that insufferable joy that no person should be capable of so early in the day. He was the only person he had ever joked and bantered with, never treating him like royalty so it didn't get to his head. They were friends, he supposed, from the beginning.

But now it could all be over. The man was wounded trying to protect him. Loyal to a fault.

His loyalty will see him dead.