Visions of the heaven Alina had known during the few minutes of true beauty she'd ever spent with Alexander paraded in front of her eyes. Things he'd said...things he'd done...that beautiful, disarming smile he'd always had ready when he'd needed it most...
You make me feel beautiful.
"And you made me feel beautiful, too, Alexander!" Alina wept.
A memory that Alina had long since been trying to forget pervaded her thoughts, and she struggled against it.
No, she hadn't forgotten the moment when she'd denied her love for the villain...
"I hate Alexander! I've never loved him! I only wanted to trick information out of him!" That declaration that she'd made when Conner had confronted her about her love for Alexander had never been erased from her mind.
Those words were just as real to her as the words that brought her joy.
The familiar enemy of self-hatred rose within Alina, and she brought herself to her feet, still weak from the tears she had cried. "This is my fault, just as much as it's his," she whispered. "If I hadn't denied my love for him, then he wouldn't have run to the bell. Perhaps things could've been different..."
Ah, yes. Things would have been rather different, but we won't let Alina know that, will we? If she had not said those fateful words, then she could've kept her heart's desire...but we're getting ahead of ourselves, aren't we?
Alina realized that she'd been pacing for the past few minutes. Stopping and glancing at her reflection in the mirror, she saw the wild human she'd become. Though her hair was in place and her outfit was newly pressed, her eyes told stories of sorrow and tumultuous emotions. Perhaps Molly was right. Perhaps Alina had changed far too much.
It was then that Alina looked over at the letters and saw something that would forever change the course of her future.