It's strange to think about it now. Betrayal, such a loaded word. But I knew this day was coming, my hurt is only a fraction of theirs.
It all really started when I was little. My parents, Eadie and Nicolo, were murdered by a rebel commander. That same rebel commander decided to take me in, a small act to make up for the cruellest thing he could have done.
He raised me, never knowing that I knew, I knew what he had done. At the age of 9, I was finally given my instructions: remain a sleeper agent in the rebel cause unless told otherwise. I always hand sneaking suspicions that Lance didn't trust me, and when he said nothing for eight years, I was convinced that he didn't need me.
I was wrong. The message arrived today, I need to steal back the Trymidian artefact. Now finally, I get the chance to hurt Edgar as he hurt me. I get to rip out the notions of family he has. He thinks of Azra like a daughter, even more so after the death of Calvin, his favourite nephew, almost son.
That one did hurt, I have to admit. I'd always had a little crush on Calvin. But getting even with Edgar, taking my place on the right side, is all that matters to me. This lie is all I am, but not anymore. Now I have a purpose, a definition again.
The funny thing is, my persona is so well built they suspect me with nothing. If they ever did, the reply is ready-made: "You don't trust me, just because my parents worked for Lance? Haven't I proven myself?" Add some tears to this righteous indignation and every one of these bleeding hearts will fall aside.
Anyways, the plot was perfect. I slipped Azra some truth serum with a special ingredient, just one of my oh-no-I'm-such-a-klutz moments. Even more perfectly, Edgar came to us. He told me that the rebels now held the Trymidian artefact.
And for the finishing touch to these dominoes, Azra revealed that she didn't kill Lance, which resulted in Calvin's death. Instantly, the rapport Edgar and Azra built over two years of life-and-death situations imploded. She was practically family, and he lost her in a second. Just as I felt, finding out that he murdered my family.
After coldly and brutally cutting ties with Azra, he left to interrogate one of Lance's lieutenants, taking Nathan with him.
I stared sadly at Azra, curling my arms around my knees. "Azra...I'm so sorry, I didn't know-"
"No, stop. It would've come out anyways, and-and, he's right. It is all my fault that Calvin died." Azra said steadily and slowly, her voice wavering slightly. She looked pale and closed her eyes.
I checked the clock, I needed this interaction to last just five more minutes. "It's not your fault, you can't just kill someone in cold blood, that's what makes you different from Lance." My voice became soft and sympathetic. "He'll get it, he knows he-" I knew what she would do next. God, I know this girl. She was family, sweet, caring, I didn't even need to say anything, she would do it herself.
Azra flung an arm out in distress. "Just stop. He would've done what he needed to do, you heard him! I failed him, I let Lance get away, I'm why we're at this point! The prophecy would be over by now if it wasn't for me." Her voice broke at the end, and she turned to the window, her arms slack at her sides.
As lovable Stella would, I tried for some humour to defuse the situation. "If it's a prophecy, it was always going to happen." I let my voice crumble awkwardly at the end, like I had remembered the horror of Calvin's death. "You know, I was mad too. When you told me, I was so upset that you could've let this happen. But then I knew, Lance is the one responsible in the end. He's the reason so many people have to die." I kept my voice gentle, glancing at the clock. Two more minutes.
There was a poignant pause I had to struggle not to yawn through. Azra started shaking, which could have been tears, or the poison I added to the serum. No doubt Lance's lieutenant was feeling it too right about now.
I summoned my pixie discreetly, and while she came from wherever she was, I fought another yawn. Azra glanced at me, and thankfully the aborted yawns looked like tears. "Come here," I told her, holding out my arms. Azra had always had a little hero complex, and it was one of the things that endeared her to me. She was honestly kind, a complete coward, who was brave when it counted.
Azra slowly shambled over, eyes red. I felt bad for her, seriously. In a way, Edgar was the closest she had to a father. She lived and died on his acceptance, and I guess today she would die because of it.
I clutched her in my arms for the last thirty seconds, until she began wheezing. "I'm sorry it has to be this way, you're family to me too." I whispered, holding her fiercely, genuine tears burning my eyes. "But I have to cut my ties too." At that moment, all that we shared: the sisterly love built up from the worst moments we had faced, the sleepovers, the crying, laughing, and the dress-up fun, all of it came rushing back...before it fell away.
I saw those moments for what they were, fakes. While Azra poured out her heart and trusted me like her life depended on it, I gave her nothing. I shared the barest, vaguest details, and she imagined a life for me. When my heart burned with anger, because the rebels hurt Lance, she would be happy. When I was delighted for Lance's victories, she would be devastated. Our friendship didn't work on any level, it was a series of lies, compounded by lies.
I let her crash to the floor, and told Mellibelle to deliver a message to Edgar: the chosen one had just collapsed, possible poisoning. Considering that the lieutenant was dead too, they'd take it seriously and rush upstairs. The ensuing panic would make sure everyone was distracted while I stole the artefact.
It took me no time at all to enter the vault, unguarded because of the chaos taking place upstairs. Using the code, which I had always known, I took the artefact.
One last time, before disappearing, I considered Azra, who was probably struggling for her life upstairs. Leaving an antidote would cost me nothing. But to her, it would mean everything.
She would think I could be redeemed, I could be saved, I was secretly on her side. She would cling to the adorable idea that we mean something to each other, that there's a tiny part in my heart that aches for her.
And she would be right, but we are not on the same side. It is over, my time is up. It didn't hurt when Calvin died, and it wouldn't hurt if you did. I need Lance to win, and you to disappear.