Chapter 51 | Goodbye

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Elena's P.O.V.

I woke up on the hard ground that was covered with a thin material - a poor attempt to make the floor softer. A thick coat draped my body whereas another one was made into a feeble-like pillow.

The warm smell of the clothing revealed the identity of the owner. Although his gesture was meant for nothing more than to make me comfortable, it saddened me like a cut.

Why does nothing feel right?

When things change, you change with them. Perhaps that's why I see a wrong in everything? Because the time is not the same anymore? Because life has lost its colors?

My head hurt and my eyes burned. I felt so incredibly heavy to leave the slumber I lived in, but I knew I couldn't close my eyes again.

The world was ugly and I hated it, yet, I had to face it. There was nowhere to hide, nowhere to be, and nowhere to be free from the agony. One way or another, you have to meet the world again.

Nightmares do come to life, and when they do, it's difficult to see a dream again.

Slowly, I got up from the hard floor, finding it troublesome to breathe. The air was too thick, too filtered with weights - there was just too much of everything.

Sore and in pain, I forced myself to move. I couldn't find it in me to touch the song sheets that I had brought; it had too many agonizing memories.

"Elena?" Ethan's voice broke my attention from the piano. His hair was messy and chaotic, almost reflecting his heavy orbs.

For some reason, I didn't want to be anywhere near him. It pained me to see what kind of grief I had caused upon him. Whatever I did and didn't do, I always left some pain behind me.

The prince took a step forward, sensing what I was about to do. "Elena, please. We need to talk-"

Before he could finish his sentence, I sprinted. I ran as fast as I could, ignoring the pain in my wounded feet as I increased my speed.

I couldn't breathe and I couldn't do anything to make it stop. Why do feelings have to be so goddamn heavy? How is it possible for your own heart to kill you?

"Wait!" He called, following me without any success to catch up with me. "Elena, I beg you!"

His tone was desperate and despondent, and the words were powerful enough to kill my speed. We were standing under the colorless sky without cloaks to hide us; our faces exposed for the world to see our next step.

With a heavy heart, I turned around and met his eyes. "Ethan," I started, feeling how the tears pressed themselves against my sight. "I can't do this right now-"

"Please, Ella," the prince ignored the curious villagers that slowly surrounded us. "I only ask for you to listen, I beg you."

His wish was simple and easy, yet, I found it difficult to meet his gaze again. But I had to. He deserved to be heard.

A heavy sigh left his mouth. "Elena, there is so much I want to ask you and tell you. So much that I don't even know what to say. You came from the unknown and ended up in the strangest of places in the world. For a long time have I tried to figure you out, but the more I got to know you, the more I understood that there is no simple solution."

He paused to let the words melt into the raw truth. I hated how vulnerable and skinless he was; he was exposed to not only me but the cruel world as well.

"When people asked me to describe you, I was always at the loss of words," Ethan spoke again, a ghostly smile lifting his lips. "How could I even describe a person like you, Ella? For a long time did I contemplate and think about you, trying to grasp for an explanation. It wasn't before I saw something in the sky that I knew what to say."

His brown, kind eyes met my orbs, melting my heart. "Elena, you're like a northern light. I don't know where you came from, or when you will show up, or how far you have traveled, or how long you have been here.

"But what I do know is that you're undeniably beautiful. What I do know is that I want to get to know you and be with you as much as I can. To me, you're like a northern light, Ella, because even if you don't shine as bright as a star, you're still the most needed beauty in the world. You are a symbol of hope and life, colorful and breathtaking. But most of all, you are you."

Empty of words, I stared. Ethan poured his soul and heart out, and the only thing I could do was to watch him bleed. Defeat scarred his face, cutting so deeply it wrenched my heart.

Had it been any other day before the world turned dark, I would have felt a tingling warmth. A bliss. A sparkle.

I would have felt something.

But I didn't.

"I like you, Elena. A lot. When I fell down that hill that day I. . . I fell for you. When you stepped into my life, I fell out of mine. God, I didn't even think it was possible to feel so much for a person, but I do." His words were firm and strong, showing his true emotions. "You don't have to say anything, I understand," the prince continued, his eyes dripping with wretchedness.

"Ethan, I-"

"No, Elena," he shook his head. "I'm not asking for you to say it back - I'm not asking anything from you at all. I just want you to be happy again," his voice was giving out, but he forced himself to continue through his throbbing heart. "I don't care where you go, or what you do, or. . . who you're with. As long as you're happy and smiling, it's more than I could ever ask for."

There and then, I wanted to cry. Why did everything twist to this path? A way that led to more suffering and agony.

People waited for me to throw the dice. Whispers occurred in the time of silence, and I knew people were anxious to know what kind of answer that lay in my hands.

Something stirred in my chest, and I followed the feeling that led me to Ethan. Slowly and carefully, I hugged him tightly, holding him as close as he held me.

"Thank you," my words were thin, yet, it ripped a huge chunk of hope in our embrace.

Gently, I broke the warm hug and stroked his chin that was painted with tears. It hurt to see him like this, but I couldn't take him down the colorless path with me.

He deserved so much more.

"Thank you, Ethan," I quietly spoke, watching how his long, thick eyelashes were soaked in feelings.

He nodded, gulping down the stone in his throat to meet my gaze. God, I wish he hadn't. There was nothing but heartbreak in his hue. Nothing but raw pain.

Slowly, our hug dissolved, and the further I stepped away from him, the looser our grip became. The warmth slowly disappeared, replaced by a cold, empty wind.

Goodbye, Ethan, I wanted to say, but I couldn't find it in me to say those heavy words.

I walked with heavy steps, ignoring the stares and my heart that screamed for mercy. When I caught Aria's pity among the crowd, the cup of grief spilled over. It was just too much of every single thing.

So I did the only thing I could do: I ran.

Ethan fell to his knees, defeated and heartsore. I could only imagine the empty words he would hear from Lorenzò and Conner, his friends trying to offer his heart some comfort.

God, did I hate myself. A loathing poison grew and stabbed me repeatedly; an action that I deserved a thousand times more.

But deep down, I knew it was necessary - despite the grief-stricken wound.

I have seen what kind of damage love has done. It leaves you bent and injured. And unable to live.

A shattered heart is absolutely the worst. It's an injury that's not visible, and yet, it's the most painful wound in the world.

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