Chapter 10

Ella blinked away her own tears as she remembered that day-the day Nicolas died.

"You loved her?" Will asked, his words choppy from poorly hidden irritation.

Surprised, she shook her head. She had been so caught up in her memories she had unconsciously said those words and almost told them that Nicolas had died. "Ah, yes." She replied lamely.

"I see," he said tightly, "and what did she say?"

"She…"

"You-you love me?" she repeated, blinking in disbelief.

Nicolas nodded. "I have for quite some time now. You are beautiful, funny, kind, I-I just love being with you and I would love to be able to stay like this… but, that isn't the problem. Ella, I'm dying."

The silence stretched across the room like a thick curtain and Ella was lost for words.

"You're dying?" was the only thing she could manage.

He nodded again. "Yes, that's why I came here-to get help. No-one can help me though, the disease is much too far advanced and not even spells can heal this."

Ella shook her head so hard it was as if she were hoping it would change the situation. "No, no. You-you're not dying." She laughed, shoving him gently, her face falling again as he simply stared back. She felt herself begin to tear up, pain clawing its way up her throat-making it hard to talk. "No… no." She shook her head again, shaking his shoulder a little, perhaps trying to shake some sense into him. "I-I can stay… I-I'll just stay with you," she babbled, "I can love you too!"

Nicolas smiled, not surprised her kindness would extend so far. "Ella, that isn't the problem. I know you don't love me, and I'm not dying from that. I'm just sick and I thought you should know that I don't have long left."

Her eyes were wide like saucers, her lips trembling as she stared at him a moment longer, the words finally reaching their mark. The second they did, her hands went weak and she began to shake, her body readying itself for the tears. "No…" she moaned, head falling. "NO!" she sobbed out, clutching onto his shirt, her warm tears splashing down unbidden even as her heart began to freeze over.

Ella wiped her tears away quickly, turning so the men could not see them. She could hardly tell them that version. "She… she stayed with me for a while. She didn't love me, not like I did her, but she wanted to be with me as a friend. Then… we just went our separate ways. She got a job with a magician-Pilath, I think, and I came to the village." She turned to them once more. "That's all I know. After that, we didn't see each other."

Will glared at her and she shifted uncomfortably, noticing that Cain and Tim were also quite put out.

"Look, I'm sorry, but that's all I know!" she exclaimed, flustered. Couldn't they leave her alone now? She told them the story?

"How does that even make sense?" Will growled.

"What?"

"What?" Will demanded, staring at her in disbelief. "You fall in love with her then you let her go?"

"I-" Ella stopped again. What on earth could be her excuse? "She left me okay? She hung around for a little while then she moved on."

"But why did you suddenly stop talking to her?" he pressed.

Ella's eyes misted up again. All of these questions were confusing her. She should have just told the truth. "Why does it matter to you?" she cried, standing. "What do you even want to see her for? Is it make her marry that man? What?"

Will was shocked into silence for a moment before standing up, angered by her words. "She's my friend!" he yelled back. "Of course I would want to see her! And it was never my intention to make her marry that man… I-"

Leo could almost hear the words that were about to exit his mouth and was desperate for them not to be heard. "Okay!" he called out, cutting Will off. "That's enough I think, everyone should get to bed. The day has been long and you are all obviously shocked and upset. We have things we need to do right?" He peered at each one of them. "Let's just focus on that, anything else is useless. Come one Nic."

Leo grabbed her by the hand, practically dragging her from the room before leading her to their own. When they got there he let go of her hand, shoving her away from him. He was angry-not just because she had blurted out all of those things, the story he himself had never heard, but also because it seemed his hunch had been right, that Will guy had feelings for Ella. Groaning aloud he brought both hands through his hair, aggravated.

Leo heard a sniffle and glanced Ella's way, surprised to see her beginning to tear up again. Weak against her tears he finally sagged, taking a seat beside her whilst he brought her head to his chest, cradling her while she cried.