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Aurelia's POV


I knew Audrey was going through some hard times, but I never thought that she'd - that she'd -

"Aurelia? Noah says you can come over," Asher says in a hushed voice.

"Yeah, I'll be over in 2 minutes," I tell him in a dazed voice.

What went wrong? How could this happen? Audrey was always so endearingly nice. Noah was everything to her. They had known each other since they were young, but only had started dating later on. A family was all that Audrey ever wanted. She loved her younger siblings fiercely and would quite literally kill for them. So what happened?

"I'm as shocked as you are," Asher says, looking at my face. "They were totes adorbs."

"Too soon," I shake my head. "Are you sure you heard right?"

"Yeah, definitely," Asher hesitated before continuing. "He seemed... unfazed." Asher started to twist something on his finger. "It was startling, honestly. He had the dullest tone when he told me, and he even laughed when he asked who it was and I said it was me at the start."
"What?" That caught my attention. How would Noah be able to brush this off?

"Probably what the system has done to him," Asher shrugs. "Concealing, not letting anyone know it hurts."

"Oh gods," I hurriedly pick up my stuff. "Can you handle yourself here? For a bit?"

"Yes, sure, definitely," Asher does a small salute. "You can count on me!"

"Don't mess this up," I warn closely as I leave.

"Yup, yup!" Asher has a sneaky grin on his face that I can't trust. I choose to ignore it for Noah's sake.

The Rose district was a significantly small city. Only eight people plus some siguri lived here anyway. The lesser tiatis lived on the outskirts of our town. We were all practically neighbors. Noah and Audrey lived together. That brought up another problem: Where would Audrey sleep?

I was willing to bet Audrey walked out on Noah, hence me going to the house. I see their home on the rise, a neat little place. Unlike me, they had decided against a mansion and had gotten a cozy cottage of sorts. It still had five bedrooms, though, so it was nothing short of the grandeur tiatis deserve.

I knock twice on the neatly built door. "Noah?"

"Yeah," He opens the door. I can already see he's emotionless. He's shut himself off.

"Hey," I say slowly, not sure what to ask. It wasn't everyday you had to talk to your best friend's ex.

"You want to know about the Eversio," Noah cuts the awkward tension between us, and I'm grateful I don't have to stand there like an idiot who can't comprehend breakups.

"Yeah, but, what happened to - " I start, rather insensitively.

Noah breathes in sharply. "Nothing happened."

I understand immediately. If anyone realizes that Audrey broke up with Noah in bad blood, she could be eliminated. People barely broke up due to this; once you were in a relationship, there was barely any way to get out. Noah must've been heartbroken, but he was keeping his head so Audrey would stay alive.

Not another friend.

If Noah let himself actually feel, he would break down, and two of my other closest friends would die.

"Ha!" I unconvincingly laughs. "Course!"

A ghost of a smile flits over his face before he pulls me inside.

He shuts the door with a bang. He immediately sags against his door, swallowing gulps of air to keep himself steady.

"But she loves you - " I argue, before he interrupts me.

"Nothing happened," he presses his lips together. "Nothing."

I follow his lead and sit on the soft, blue couch. "Um," I stammer. "Eversio?"

Noah sighs, looking hesitant to trust me. "This isn't a light subject, Aura, it's serious. I'm only telling you because I've known you too long and Aud - she trusted you."

I try to ignore his slip-up. "They killed Bianca, Noah, this is serious."

"There's some of us beyond the gate," Noah confesses. "And we have a plan."

I lean in eagerly. "Everything. Now."

"We're planning to smuggle people out of here. We'll go slow, only getting out those we trust. But we want to spread the word. The more people who are in on this, the better. We just can't let the higher-ups know."

"Noah, we are the higher-ups," I raise an eyebrow.

"As in Madison and Jason. Maybe Willow, I can't tell yet." 

I nod in agreement. Willow was a pain, but it was too soon to tell what side she's on.

"Audrey refuses to leave the city," Noah admits to me. "So, the plan has a few vacancies."

"It's settled then," I say excitedly. "Me and Asher. Get us out of here before Asher's trial."

"Not that easy," Noah cautions darkly. "I don't trust him. He could be a spy for all we know."

My blood runs cold. It was entirely possible, and that wasn't good. How did he really know about the eliminations? And the Eversio? Even I didn't know, until I was a tiati.

"I - I'll try and figure him out," I promise. I never considered Asher being anything but good, but what if he was working for the other side? "How, though? How could he possibly be working for Madison? He's a Defect."

Noah ran his hands through his hair. "I know you're eager to see the best in everyone, but you never know. I'm already worried because he knows, and he could sell me out to Madison in exchange for his freedom."

I shake my head, my mind already rejecting this. "He wouldn't," I protest weakly.

Noah grips onto the sofa arm, so hard that his knuckles turn white. "I know he seems nice, but you need to be careful. He might - "

He breaks off, but I've gotten the message.

Asher might potentially sell us out to Madison to save his own skin.

Noah rises, signaling the meeting was over. "Be careful, Aurelia. We never know. Asher - just watch out."

"Bye." I fall silent, though I'm convinced Asher couldn't do something like that.

Or could he? 

Hope you enjoyed! Sorry for the late update!

- Angie and Eliza

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