A humourless laugh travelled down the corridor towards us. ‘You really didn’t know, did you?’ Artemis said, walking towards us. ‘But you do now.’
I carry on moving away. ‘Your family…you ruined ours. You destroyed us all.’
Artemis laughs. ‘You had it coming. It was your families fault. Look at you, Elijah Prince. Once the best fighter that family had…what happened to you?’
‘Arty, what are you talking about?’ Eliza said, looking between the two of us.
‘What do you think, El? That’s why I didn’t want him near you! He is a Prince! Not only that, but one of the most lethal Prince’s alive. Do you know how many of our people have died at his hands?’
Eliza stood suddenly, not talking her eyes off me, walking towards her brother. ‘Eliza, wait! I didn’t know! I’m not…I’m not like that!’ I almost shouted. She ignored me, walking round back to our ward.
I went to follow her, but Artemis got in my way. ‘Leave her; she won’t listen to you now.’
I looked at him, my eyes pleading. ‘Was I really like that?’
He nodded. ‘You killed many of our people. From some of the stories, I think you killed..’ He looked at me. ‘You killed my parents.’
I flinch, leaning against the wall. ‘And that’s why you didn’t want her to talk to me. Because you think I’m the bad one.’
He grins. ‘Well, bad for your lot. I’ve killed my fair share of Prince’s’
I frown. ‘Honestly, at the moment I think that is a good thing. Why are we fighting each other?’
He comes and leans against the wall next to me. ‘I don’t know. I was always told that your family did something to mine once, which started all the fighting down the generations.’
I pause. ‘Hmm, from what I can remember, we were told that you were the ones in the wrong. That we were getting revenge on you.’
He looks at me. ‘Maybe there is something none of us have been told about it…’
‘Maybe…’ I shake my head. ‘I don’t understand how I was like that. I’m so shocked with myself.’
‘Don’t be, Elijah. We have all harmed and killed. It’s what both families have in common. We are all trained to kill.’ He stops, looking at the floor. ‘I don’t know why, but I don’t think you are like them any more. Go and talk to her. Go and talk to Eliza.’
I smiled at him, and walked down the corridor towards the room. Looking back, I could see Artemis still stood against the wall, watching me.
I walked in and sat on the edge of her bed. She was curled up in a ball, facing away from me. I could see her shaking as she held in her tears. ‘Eliza, I’m so sorry. For everything I have done. I didn’t know I was like that…I’m not like that now.’
‘You’re a Prince. You’re Elijah Prince. You think I don’t know about you? What you are like? You can’t change.’
I sigh, pushing myself onto the bed, sitting upright against the wall. ‘Look at me, Eliza. Please.’ She slowly moved, sitting up by my side. I went to take her hand, but she flinched, looking away. That hurt me more than anything. ‘It’s like we’ve been brainwashed against each other. Neither family knows the true reason we are fighting- but we carry on anyway. It’s what I was taught to do. Artemis said that is what I did. But not now, because I have broken free from it. I don’t want to fight.’
‘But how do I know you are telling the truth?’
I shrug, looking in to her eyes. ‘You won’t know. But you have to believe. I…I don’t want to be that person.’
She sat still, thinking. Finally, she carefully threaded her fingers in-between mine, holding my hand. ‘I’m sorry for running off on you. But I have been around war my whole life. I didn’t want to stay and watch you and Arty rip each other apart.’
‘I wouldn’t have done that.’
I answered honestly, wanting her to understand. ‘Because being me, now, I couldn’t. and…it would have hurt you.’
She smiled softly, closing her eyes. After a while, her breath slowed, and I could tell she was asleep. Artemis walked in, frowning when he saw where I was sat. I put my finger to my lips, and shrugged.
He smiled. ‘She likes you, you know.’
‘I doubt it. She knows who I am.’
‘And she doesn’t care. She barely trusts anyone to fall asleep with them around. Take it from me, she likes you.’
I smile, raising her hand to my face. I kiss it lightly. ‘Sleep well, Eliza.’
In her sleep, she smiled.