AN. I'm so very sorry for the long wait. Real life has been really demanding. I have no intention of abandoning this fic. But it'll probably take more time for me to uplad a new chapter. I hope you can all bear with me, please.
Btw, you guys are soooo awesome, thank you for the reviews, favs and follows. You guys really helped me push myself to write this, knowing that you are waiting for the next chapter. Shout out to Nioka Bush. I see you've been really looking forward to this chapter. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
This chapter was beta-ed by the awesome hippolarium. She is a great writer. You won't regret checking out her stories on AO3 (archive of our own). She's also writing a fantastic fic on Aladdin. Please go check out her works
Someone was calling him.
He recognised that voice.
He opened his eyes slowly. The first thing he realized was the blinding headache and how the world felt like it was going to tip over. He grimaced in pain and closed his eyes, trying to dim down the sensations. After a while, he cautiously opened his eyes again.
The first thing he saw was a set of beautiful brown eyes filled with concern. Jasmine was sitting on the edge of the comfortable bed that he was lying on. Not far from her, stood her handmaiden. He didn't remember ever reaching this room or this bed.
"What happened?" he asked. He was a bit shocked at how raspy and weak his voice sounded. He tried to sit up, only to be held back by Jasmine.
"No, just rest for now, Aladdin. You fainted on the stairs. Healer Sayyaf is being called for," said Jasmine.
Aladdin frowned in response. Everything seemed to be jumbled up in his head; from the headache, the new surroundings, the embarrassment of fainting, and the fact that he had to be seen by a healer. He then noticed a very familiar sound. He turned his head slightly and found Abu at the edge of his pillow. The monkey was also looking at him with concerned eyes.
"How are you feeling now?" Jasmine said softly.
He looked back at Jasmine. He hadn't given much thought on how he felt other than the bone deep exhaustion and the terrible headache. He closed his eyes for a moment. His whole body ached. His skin felt raw and hypersensitive. It felt like every surface of his body was littered with bruises and cuts. With everything that had happened since entering the Cave of Wonders, it would be a miracle not to be. He also noted how breathless he felt. Like he wasn't getting enough air despite breathing deeply. Even with his jumbled up mind, he realized that was not a good sign.
He opened his eyes again to see Jasmine waiting for his reply.
"Tired," he decided to say.
Jasmine just looked at him, expecting him to elaborate. Seeing that he wasn't going to, she nodded.
"I'll wait here with you until Healer Sayyaf arrives."
Just then, Genie, Hasan and a middle-aged man flew in with Carpet from the balcony. The new man was wearing a robe with predominantly green colours and was holding onto a big black bag. He had a calm and kind fatherly face. They stepped down from Carpet near his bed.
"Your Highness," he bowed to Jasmine. "I heard of what happened. May I ask you to wait outside while I check on His Highness?"
Jasmine nodded. With one last glance towards Aladdin's direction, she stood and left the room with Dalia, leaving Aladdin with the healer, Hasan and Genie.
Jasmine and Dalia were waiting in the hall, sitting on one of the benches near Aladdin's new rooms. Hakim and a few other guards were standing close by. Jasmine had lost track of time. It had been awhile since they left. She remembered when Aladdin suddenly fell backwards on the last set of stairs. Genie managed to grab onto him before he tumbled down the stairs and hurt himself even more. Between Genie, Hasan and Hakim, they managed to carry Aladdin to his new rooms. After having him settled in bed, Genie and Hasan immediately left with Carpet to find Healer Sayyaf.
Jasmine let out a long sigh. It was a mistake on her part not to realize Aladdin's condition before this happened. She even dragged him into a stressful council without asking a single question about his health. He was the one who had seen most of the action from Jafar's ordeal. She should have thought of this beforehand.
From beside Jasmine, Dalia patted her hand. "I'm sure he'll be alright," she said.
"I hope so, Dalia. It was wrong of us, not to have him seen by a healer before this," she said, her head downcast in regret.
"I know. I'm sorry too," Dalia said. As the main handmaiden to the princess, and now the Sultana, she had some power to command the household staff. She should have made sure someone had seen to Aladdin.
"No, Dalia. It wasn't your fault either," said Jasmine. She let out another defeated sigh. "It was no one's fault. It was a frantic time this morning."
Dalia nodded. This morning was very frantic. After Jasmine had left to find Aladdin, Dalia immediately made sure the Sultan was seen by Healer Sayyaf. And then, together with Genie, they raced down all the way to the dungeons to free Hakim and his men, as well as Rajah. They had barely enough time to inform Hakim of what happened. Together they spread the news and assembled the council that Jasmine asked to hold immediately. She knew there were still many more days before everything settled down.
Just then, Aladdin's doors opened and out came the healer. Immediately, Jasmine and Dalia stood.
"How is he, Healer Sayyaf?" Jasmine asked worriedly.
"He has many injuries, Your Highness," he said, "Many bruises and cuts that I have taught Hasan how to clean and dress. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to have any internal injuries aside from some bruised ribs. But his breathing worries me, especially knowing he almost drowned and -"
"Drowned?" Jasmine interrupted in shock.
The Healer paused. He hadn't realized that the Sultana had not yet known what her betrothed had endured these past few days. "Yes, Your Highness. From what little His Highness managed to tell me, he almost drowned yesterday morning," he said.
"The assassination attempt…" she said softly to herself. She recalled when Prince Ali and Genie approached her yesterday morning. He had looked out of breath and disheveled. She remembered Genie pointing out to the rope-shaped bruises on the prince's wrist. She had believed their word but they didn't have time to talk of the details back then. A quick conversation on the Prince's health which he easily dismissed was the only thing they could manage before hurrying to stop Jafar's next actions. Realization hit her that she had no idea what Aladdin had truly endured this past few days from Jafar's sorcery and banishment.
"What else has he endured, Healer Sayyaf?"
"Your Highness," he said kindly. "You should sit down while I tell you of my observations and of what I heard of His Highness'… adventures."
He waited until Jasmine and Dalia sat on the bench. He then continued to retell the fascinating yet terrifying adventures he managed to ask out of his patient.
Being held captive by Jafar's guards and then being whisked away to travel the desert through the heat of the day and the cold of the night.
Fighting his way out of a smoldering cave only to be trapped inside for the rest of the night.
Being roped to a chair then thrown off the tallest balcony of the palace and left to drown.
Being sent away to a freezing wasteland then having to fly a whole night, without food or rest, to reach Agrabah as fast as he can.
And last but not least, the final fight with Jafar. The chase they had in the market, being thrown violently by the storm, and being held down suffocatingly by Jafar's spell.
With every tale she heard, she became more worried. It was a miracle Aladdin was still intact with his wit to outsmart Jafar, let alone still be alive. Beside Jasmine, Dalia looked at her, mirroring her own thoughts, wondering what condition Aladdin was in and whether he would be alright.
"Will he be alright?" asked Jasmine.
"His wounds and bruises will heal in time, Your Highness," said the Healer. "It is his breathing that I'm concerned with. He seems to be out of breath and is getting slightly warmer to the touch. I will make sure appropriate oils be burned in his room to help his breathing. I will also prepare some medicine for him to drink. Other than that, we will have to wait and see. Hopefully it will not progress into a full fever."
Jasmine felt that there was more to what the healer was trying to say. "And if it does?" she said.
A heavy silence permeated the air. Jasmine frowned. She waited with bated breath, somehow dreading the words that would come out from the Healer.
"High fever with difficulty of breathing is very dangerous, Your Highness. If it does come to that, I will make sure that there is a healer by his side at all times," the healer said carefully.
It was clear from the Healer's expression of what he expected would happen to Aladdin's condition. Jasmine couldn't help herself but ask. "You think his condition might worsen? How bad could it become?" asked Jasmine.
The Healer sighed heavily. "His body has endured much in just a short span of time, Your Highness. I am afraid that there is a high chance that his condition will worsen." He composed himself and took a deep breath. "And I'm afraid there is also a small chance that he might deteriorate far more than we can help. Though, hopefully it will not come to that, considering he was in good health before all of this happened."
Jasmine sat there, rooted to the spot. Her emotions were churning and mixing together; anxiousness, sadness, disbelief, and shock. It felt wrong to her. They just had their lives back. They even had a chance now to live their lives as they wanted to. But here, it all felt like everything was crashing down yet again.
She took several deep breaths to steady her heart. She realized that nothing would come out of her sitting idle by the sides. This was yet another obstacle that they would have to face full on, with no option of turning back. She should do her best to facilitate Aladdin's recovery as best as she could. It was the only option she had.
"Please, Healer Sayyaf," said Jasmine. "Give him the best care that we can provide. If there is anything, anything at all, that you need in order to help him, do not hesitate to bring them up. You may even immediately bring it up to me. He is part of the royal family now, and even if he wasn't, this kingdom owes him everything."
The Healer nodded his head in understanding. "You have my word that I will do my best," said Healer Sayyaf.
"Thank you, Healer Sayyaf," said Jasmine, gratefully. She then looked towards Aladdin's rooms. "May I see him?"
Reluctantly, the Healer shook his head. "With all due respect, Your Highness. He is already asleep now. We should let him rest. You may see him later when he wakes."
Being the Sultana, she could easily ignore the Healer's advice. But she knew to respect the healer's judgement. Healer Sayyaf was the head of healers in the palace and the best healer they had in this kingdom. That didn't mean it was easier for her to agree though.
As if reading Jasmine's thoughts, Dalia spoke from beside her. "Please, Healer Sayyaf. We promise not to disturb him. May you let the Sultana see him? At least for her peace of mind," she said.
Jasmine looked hopefully at the Healer. She knew she was being unreasonable, but it felt as if it was the least she could do for Aladdin. He had helped them so much. The least she could do was to see his condition now.
The Healer seemed to be weighing his options. After a while, he nodded in understanding. "Very well. You may see him, but only for a while and only if you promise to go straight to your rooms after this, Your Highness. I have sent for Healer Syifa to check on you, she should already be waiting for you in your rooms. Please make sure you see her, it has been a very tiring night for all of you," said the Healer kindly.
Jasmine thanked him and went towards the doors.
Jasmine and Dalia silently entered the bedroom. Inside, Aladdin was already fast asleep. It seemed that they have changed his clothes and put him under the covers despite the warmth of day. Not a moment later, Hasan came in from the direction of the bathing chamber, a basin of water in his hands. He seemed to be fully immersed in his work that it took him awhile to notice the Sultana and her handmaiden's presence. He had put the basin down on a stool near Aladdin's bedside before he realized they were still standing near the entrance.
He jumped in shock. Realizing who was there, he hastily corrected his posture and bowed. "Your Highness, please forgive me, I did not see you there, how may I help you?" he said quietly, as to not awaken Aladdin.
Jasmine and Dalia stepped closer. Jasmine did not seem to hear Hasan's words. She only had her eyes on Aladdin's pale figure. She stopped beside his bed, opposite to where Hasan and Dalia were now standing.
"We just came to see His Highness' condition, Hasan. We heard of what happened to him from Healer Sayyaf," said Dalia quitely.
Hasan nodded and sighed. "He has been through a lot, Miss Dalia. I hope he will recover soon."
They stood there for a while. The room was silent except from the soft sound of Aladdin's breathing.
"Come, we should give them some privacy," said Dalia to Hasan.
Seeing Hasan hesitate, Dalia added, "It will only be for a moment, and we'll just be waiting outside. I'm sure Sultana Jasmine will call for us if His Highness needs you."
"Alright," said Hasan. He hesitantly followed behind Dalia.
"Are you sure it's alright for us to leave them together, Miss Dalia?" said Hasan once they sat outside.
"What do you mean?" Dalia asked, not understanding what the younger boy was implying.
"I mean, umm… they're not married yet?" said Hasan, remembering those long formal etiquette lessons he had to endure to be able to become a royal servant in the palace.
Hearing this, Dalia rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. "Oh, come now, Hasan! A bit of rule bending won't hurt anybody. Didn't you see how crestfallen the Sultana was? Let her have a moment privately with His Highness."
It took a while before Hassan nodded his head. "Alright," he said, not sounding very certain.
Dalia sighed again. "Hasan, you have much to learn still about being a main servant to a royal family member."
"Yes, Miss Dalia, I'm sorry," he said, feeling disappointed that he did something wrong already just a few hours after getting his position.
Seeing his sad look, Dalia added, "It is alright, Hasan. I also had to learn on the go. There are many things that are not taught to us about taking care of our rulers."
Hasan turned his full attention to the handmaiden, ready to hear any advice she would give.
"You will come to realize that being their servant doesn't only mean tending to their clothes or food or those other daily routines. We are probably the first person to know of their situation, their plights, their feelings. And as a fellow human being, you will come to be empathetic to their situation. Their days are filled with meetings, greetings and other mundane stuff, however important they might be. Despite how many people they meet, it's a lonely life, Hasan. To have everyone tell you what to do and what not, where to go and who to meet. You will eventually come to realize that we are more than just their servants. We're their friends. And as friends, you won't let any rule or custom get away from what you know will help them best."
Hasan seemed to be processing her words. They sat there in silence until Hasan spoke again.
"I will try my best, Miss Dalia," Hasan said. "I'll try my best to be a good friend to His Highness"
Dalia smiled at the innocent comment from the younger servant. "I don't think you would need to try much, Hasan. Aladdin seems to be a very good man. I'm sure you will both get along very well."
Hasan returned the smile. "Thank you, Miss Dalia."
Dalia responded with a nod.
"By the way, Hasan. Where is Genie? I thought he was here with you," said Dalia.
"He went on an errand for Healer Sayyaf. There are some rare herbs that the healer said could help with His Highness' breathing but we are in short stock of it. So he opted to go fetch it for him with the flying carpet."
"Do you know when he'll be back?"
"Probably not too long, Miss Dalia. He said he was familiar with the desert north from here and might know the location where the herb can be found. He said that he''ll probably be back by noon."
"Very well, I will have a guest room provided for him by then. But I doubt he would leave His Highness' side."
"If I may ask, Miss Dalia. Is he a close friend of His Highness? Can we trust him? And should I let him in each time he comes?"
Dalia paused for a split second.
"Yes, Hasan. We can trust him. Very much, actually. He might be the closest thing to a family that His Highness has."
Dalia managed to hide her worries. The people that knew about Genie's role as the former jinn in the lamp were only Jasmine, Aladdin, the former sultan and herself. She speculated that Hakim might have also connected the dots. Two of Jafar's personal guards probably knew but they had been put in the dungeons and no one would believe the words of traitors anyway.
As for Aladdin, the rumor going inside the palace was that he was a commoner that stole the magical artefact from Jafar before he could use it himself. People believed that Aladdin used it instead to become a prince and try to get rid of Jafar for reasons unknown to them. It was a known fact that it was Prince Ali who got Jafar imprisoned in the first place. It seemed that people just assumed that Genie was one of Aladdin's trusted friends.
Either way, it was a unanimous decision between Genie and herself that it would be better if the fact that he was the jinn in the lamp be kept a secret. The fact that there was a jinn in a lamp somewhere in the desert was best not known to anybody else either. There might be some rumors, but again, rumors are rumors. Who would believe a story that a jinn is now human, or vice versa? They should also use another name for him; Genie was a very odd name for someone to have.
Just then, the doors slowly opened and Jasmine came out. She looked tired and sad. Dalia, concerned for her, immediately went to her side.
Jasmine looked at her longtime friend. They shared an understanding look. Jasmine then turned her attention to the younger servant.
"I trust you will take care of him well, Hasan," she said with as much gravity as she could muster.
"Yes, Your Highness. I'll take care of him as best as I can"
Jasmine nodded to his reply.
"I'm sorry, Your Highness. We should probably head back to your rooms now. Healer Syifa should already be waiting for you and you should also take some time to rest before this afternoon's council," Dalia said reluctantly.
Jasmine's expression looked pained for a moment. It was clear that she didn't want to leave Aladdin's side. She then looked one last time towards Hasan. "If there is anything he needs, do not hesitate to ask for it, and make sure you send a messenger to me if there is anything you think I should know. I do not care what time of day it is. Do you understand, Hasan?"
"Yes, Your Highness."
Jasmine stood there for a moment, looking towards the younger servant. Satisfied with what she saw, she nodded, squared her shoulders and walked towards her rooms.
AN. I know some of you were waiting for moments where Jasmine takes care of Aladdin. I've tried, really, but it just won't fit in the plot of this chapter, so I saved it for later chapters :) . I'm already working on the next chapter, but it'll probably take me more than two weeks to upload with how demanding real life is at the moment T.T .