Chapter 45

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WHEN Lily finally woke up, the world was a blur.

She blinked, turning her head to the side. The indistinct colors came into focus as her vision cleared.

She turned to see Iressa slumped on her bed, dark strands of hair scattered all over her sheets, the girl's head slumped on her folded arms on the mattress. She was fast asleep.

She turned her head to the side, her heart leaping when she saw a figure in the next bed, a bloodstained bandage wrapped around his forehead.

Adrian.

And Ada asleep in the chair beside him, her fingers gripping his loosely. She looked unharmed, aside for a few bruises peppered on her face.

There were voice outside.

Lily jolted straight up at the muffled sounds, pain shooting through her torso. She winced and put a hand to her stomach, feeling bandages beneath her loose shirt.

Invida. Gloria. The stabbing.

Her eyes widening, she gasped for breath as the memories rushed through her mind. Invida's burnt face, Gloria coming to kill her, them jumping through the window—

"Lily! Lily, calm down!"

She hadn't noticed Elize rush in, followed by a tall man. Elize put her hands on Lily's shoulders, staring straight into her eyes. "Breath, Lily. Breathe," the younger woman intoned.

Lily followed the instruction, taking deep breaths, her heartbeat slowing down slightly. Her hands loosened their clutch on the bedsheets, a tight grip she hadn't known she had.

"Gloria." She wheezed.

Elize nodded. "It's alright. You're alright." She rubbed Lily's arms soothingly.

It didn't work. Lily could remember how she'd thrust that candle into Invida's face, her screams, her face burning red, scarring—

She turned and vomited straight over the side of the bed, onto the floor.

Elize rubbed her back as she heaved, images flashing through her mind, of Invida, of Gloria, of Venix's body, blood pooling from his neck—

"Breathe, Lily," Elize said, her voice soft and gentle. The girl didn't seem irritated, only concerned.

Lily blinked away tears and turned, accepting the cup of water Elize handed her.

Iressa sat up with a start, her hair messy, sleep lines all over her face. "What's—oh." She winced, glancing between Lily and the floor on the other side of the bed.

Her disgust turned into a look of concern as she stood up, holding Lily's hand lightly. "How do you feel?"

Lily grimaced, shaking her head.

"That's to be expected," Elize said gently, handing Lily another cup. Lily downed it in a swift gesture, relishing the way the water soothed the sour taste in her mouth.

"What...happened?" Lily croaked, glancing at Adrian's bed, where Ada was still asleep.

"You tell her," Elize said to Iressa before walking out of the room. The tall man that had accompanied her walked over to Adrian's bed, his face heavy. Lily recognized him vaguely, from around the settlement. Ada and Adrian's father.

Iressa sat on the edge of her bed gently, her fingers still entwined in Lily's. "What do you remember?"

"Gloria and Invida coming, me fighting them off, and then they escaped," Lily said around the lump in her throat. She'd let Venix's killer escape. Again.

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