Outside, Aislin was waiting.

" ...Henry?" he said.

" Sorry the door was locked," Henry said. " It was a private conversation."

" I understand," Aislin said.

" He's gotten a lot worse," Henry said.

" I've been reading a lot of medical texts lately," Aislin said.

" Has it been any help?" Henry asked.

" Do you know what a metastatized cancer is?" Aislin asked. " It's when a cancerous growth in one part of the body, such as the lungs, migrates to others and continues growing."

" Aislin..."

" Annamarle had a novel treatment method, but it's been lost for over five hundred years," Aislin said. " Even the best care available now is just making it comfortable and dulling pain."

" Aislin..."

Aislin hugged him.

It was unexpected.

He didn't want it.

That man's thin arms were wrapped so tightly around him, and he started to shake and cry.

If it was anyone else, he'd hug them back. If it was anyone else, he'd offer words of comfort.

But he still couldn't shake his hatred of the man who had taken everything from him; destroyed his country.

He didn't want to look after him. He wanted him dead. He wanted the dream to be over so he could go back to his wife.

He gripped Aislin's arms.

" Aislin," he said. " Master Ornstein wants me to become your bodyguard after he dies."

" ...You...?"

Aislin looked up at him. " But I won't," Henry said.

" Henry...?"

" If you stay a virtuous man, and pledge to protect this country with your life, I will stay with you for the rest of mine. But if you cannot uphold that promise, I'll be the one to strike you down myself," Henry said coldly.

" I will," Aislin said weakly. " I promise..."

Henry hadn't expected that answer.

He did not acknowledge it.

It wasn't anything that would come to pass, after all.