Madison's POV

There wasn't much that was different. The grass was the same indigenous one, the wind was still just as silent and the people around me were just as lost. Nothing had changed since we got here. Maybe other than the sole fact that, if anything, we were even more broken versions of ourselves.

I don't know how I ended up enveloped in this pain again, after I promised myself that Lydia would be the last thing I let myself mourn. Now I mourned something that was never mine to start with.

I looked up over Cassidy's shoulder to see everyone huddled up in the far corner of the clearing. The clique was engrossed in some deep colloquy, barely paying the two of us any attention.

"I'm sorry, whatever I said, I didn't mean it." I whispered. Cassidy sighed and pulled away from me.

"I know you didn't mean anything you said, not even the crap about the rebels being a bigger problem. I know you're not stupid Madison." Her eyes were kind while she said it. Made me want to dig a hole and crawl underneath her. It would reflect our levels of compassion.

"But I am—stupid."

"Well I am not. I know that you know it won't matter if we settle things with the half-bloods because, let's face it, if we had to choose an enemy that could cause us more damage, my pick would be Arthur. And so will be yours."

My brain searched the surrounding conversation for an escape because I didn't like what I thought she was going to say next.

"You said all that in an attempt to protect him, didn't you?"

I pushed myself further away from her, trying to look anywhere but at her.

"I don't know what you're talking about." I lied but I had a fearful idea that it would fall on deaf ears.

"Madison I know you, you never say anything without a reason. There isn't any other reason I can see in this case." She claimed and maybe her claim was true. I just wasn't in a position to agree.

"You have only known me for a little more than a month. I doubt you can tell why I say what I say." I focused on keeping my tone light, but it still ended up sounding defensive.

"It doesn't matter how long I've known you, it matters what I've known you through. There are a lot of chapters to a person that contribute to the person's characteristics and habits. The key to figuring a person out is knowing that all those chapters are linked, one way or the other. I don't know everything about you, but I know and have seen enough to make an educated guess. And believe me, we both know I am right this time."

My head was bent down, my eyes glued to the ground. I knew everything she said was true, and I hated it. Why did people around me always have to be right? Their righteousness was driving me into an inferiority complex.

"Madison." My head bobbed up to see Emma standing over me, her eyes holding emotion. I was relieved to see that it wasn't pity, but at the same time perplexed to see guilt in its place.

"You never told us what happened to you while you were down there. How did you escape?"

All eyes around were trained on me. I gulped and then looked away.

"Doesn't matter. You won't get anything that could help us from my pathetic survival story."

"I think we should get to decide if it's pathetic or not for ourselves." I heard someone say. I didn't have to look up to know it was Miles.

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