“I could never hurt him enough to make his betrayal stop hurting. And it hurts, in every part of my body.”
– Veronica Roth
Ava had no time to react as they knock her out. In the end, she was going to join them no matter what, whether she wanted or not. Even if it meant taking her as a prisoner.
Before she got knocked down, all she could think about was how much Theo had used her. She hadn’t seen him in years while she was under Aiden’s spell, while he made her believe he was the one she was in love with. Maybe they were in it together. Before she got her memories back, Theo felt honest to her, even though he was keeping information from her. Lying was that easy for him.
We are the villains in this narrative.
Humans are the heroes.
Have you been outside? – Yes.
She should have known. But how? How could she be suspicious and doubt the master of pretending? Not even when he told the fake name she noticed a difference. He lied to her nonstop and not even once she doubted him.
Ava slowly opens her eyes, she looks down to her arms and legs tied up. She’s sitting on the floor and her whole body is sore. She tries to move but it’s nearly impossible to change positions. She remembers she can use her powers to get free.
“Either they are really stupid or,” she says out loud.
Of course, they would find some way to keep her from doing magic. Some sort of shield maybe. Maybe Theo was the one who created it.
Minutes later, a tall dark skinned woman enters the room. It’s not Theo’s mother. And the woman looks kind and friendly.
“Good. You are awake.” The woman says, smiling.
She’s faking it. Ava thinks. Everyone here seems pretty good at it.
“Thought you would be making some questions. Talk a little more, you seem that type.” She keeps the smile.
“Who are you and where am I?” Where’s Theo, she wants to ask too.
“I’m Amelia, and Ava, sweetheart, we are not the enemy. I know you believe we are some sort of evil witch hunters but you are not a witch, we control River of Shadows.”
“What are you talking about? Why did he-” she was going to say his name but decides not to. Just the thought of him hurts too much.
Amelia ignores the question, she continues, “It’s true that we – humans – do not have powers like yours. And yes, some people have died over the years, not everyone can survive it. So maybe, after all, we do hunt them, when they go rogue.”
“I don’t believe a word.” Ava snaps.
“I understand it’s difficult to understand. Maybe a familiar face can help.”
“If you are talking about Theo,” Ava forces herself to laugh, “he has lied to me so many times, it’s hilarious that you think I would believe a single word he says to me now.”
Amelia leaves the room without replying, that smile that was now getting annoying never once left her face. Even as she spoke about the people they did hunt and murdered over the years.
Shortly after she’s gone, someone else enters the room. Ava doesn’t need to look up to know who it is.
She tries to remain calm and casual. Giving him the satisfaction of seeing how hurt she is it’s not something that’s she’s willing to give him. She has given him enough already.
But when she speaks her voice betrays her as she says:
“One would think that for people who keep going on and on about how they aren’t the enemy here, the villains but the heroes they would treat a guest better.” She tries – but failing – to point towards her arms and legs.
With an expression impossible to read, Theo just stands there in silence.
“Well, this was a lovely chat. You can leave now,” she says again and this time she notices something different in his face, something changing in his eyes when she spoke, hurt maybe. But for Ava, it’s always a lie.
“I never meant to lie and deceive you.”
“So he does speak.”
“Ava, please. I’m sorry.”
“Are you?” She looks up, looking directly into his eyes. “You say that a lot but then you keep doing shit like this. Where’s Aiden? Won’t he join us? This could be a fun threesome.” She tries to laugh despite feeling sick with herself.
“Don’t be disgusting. This isn’t the Ava I know. I know that you’re hurt but it wouldn’t have worked if you knew about everything. I just follow orders. But you and me,” he points between them, “that wasn’t an order.”
Ava laughs again. “Yeah, here it comes the deep love confession. Our love was real bla bla bla. I don’t care. You shouldn’t have lied to me. First, your brother fucks with my brain which I still can’t figure out why he did it. Secondly, you make me fall in love with you or maybe that was the first thing that happens? Whatever, you leave me and when I find you again you pretend to be someone else. When I remember who you are, what do you do? You fucking lie to me again.” Ava manages to say everything without once her voice betraying her. She feels like crying and the tears finally start rolling, she doesn’t wipe them away because she can’t use her arms but even if she could, she doesn’t feel any less powerful by them.
Theo doesn’t say a word which just causes her to get even angrier, “look at me,” she shouts. “if you are not the enemy, then release me. I’m in pain, my whole body is aching. Stop fucking hurting me.” her face is filled with tears, not from pain but anger.
“Can you at least wipe my nose?” She sighs.
Theo walks towards her and removes the strings. Ava doesn’t fight him, she can barely stand up, she has lost feeling all over her body and her stomach makes itself known, she’s starving and right after the hunger pangs it comes the nausea. Her mouth and lips are dry. She needs food and water.
Without jokes and with no shouting, she quietly asks Theo if he could help by getting her food and new clothes.
“Wait here,” he tells her so Ava assumes he accepted her request. Before leaving, he turns to face her. He’s not trying to hide anything when he adds, “I’m sorry.” This time, she almost believed him.
She’s back on the floor, her legs too weak to be standing. She looks more closely at her body, there are no marks or signs that could have been left from the fighting.
Someone walks in again.
“Finally, what took you so long. I’m s-” she pauses, “Aiden.”
“Can I stay?”
“Can I say no? Sure, I’ve become an expert at hearing bullshit.” First thing she notices is how different Aiden is from Theo. Not just physically but his facial expressions and posture, he doesn’t seem as good at hiding his emotions like his brother. Ava can also tell that he’s aware of it so he’s trying really hard.
“I haven’t seen you since you left. I take orders just like Theo does. I want to explain everything to you. You weren’t supposed to fall in love with him. It was me, it was my mission.”
“How romantic. Taking my memories away, turn my whole life into a lie. I’ve been what, a study? An experience? Do I win the game?”
“They are going to explain everything to you, but yes. River of Shadows is an experience. And you are our golden star.”