Chapter Forty-Two: Natalia
We popped into the nursery I'd been doomed to visit over and over again the past five years. The nursery was lit by a single night light that cast a ghostly shadow over everything in the room.
I finally took a good look around, no longer confined to baby me. I noticed that there were two of everything in here: two cribs, two rocking chairs, two changing tables, etc. This was a nursery for a set of twins.
There was a loud banging against the door that made Diana and I jump. "I'm so sorry, my darling."
Diana and I turned back to the only occupied crib. Thalia was hanging over it with her auburn hair dangling over the railing. I watched as my little hand reached up for the end of her long auburn locks, just wanting her to stay.
I finally caught sight of the man, Nate, among the shadows. He had short black hair, cropped like a soldier's. HIs eyes were an emerald like my own, but they seemed to glow bright in this dim lighting. He was much taller than Thalia, Diana, and me. He was wearing a black jumpsuit like Thalia. I noticed a silver crown embroidered over his heart, a symbol he wasn't worthy of wearing.
"What are we doing here?" asked Diana.
"Thalia, we have to go," said Nate coldly.
I looked at myself as a baby. I looked lovingly up at Thalia. All I wanted was for them to take me too. I wanted them to care for me as much as they cared for Diana. I knew it would never be that way and I wasn't sure why. "You wanted to know what I saw."
Diana grabbed my upper arm and spun me around so I was facing her. "This is my memory," she said.
I nodded. "Keep watching," I whispered. I couldn't say more without my emotions betraying me. This memory still got me even after all these years.
"We love you, darling," said Thalia. "We wish you could come with us...but it's safer for you here." These were just excuses to help my mom sleep at night. She never truly loved me.
There was a loud bang and the sound of splintering wood behind us. "Come find us when you're older." Thalia leaned down to kiss my forehead. I could clearly see the bundle of joy that was Diana wrapped tightly in blankets in Thalia's arms. It somehow hurt more to watch this with Diana.
Baby me screamed for Thalia and Nate on the top of her little lungs as she flailed her arms about. Diana began moving toward Thalia and Nate, but I grabbed a hold of her wrist to prevent her. "Wait. You wanted to see what I saw, right?" Diana came back to stand beside me as she anxiously glanced over her shoulder to where Thalia and Nate escaped. They were mostly likely running for their lives from the guards.
The door to the nursery was kicked in, sending wood chunks all over the room. Baby me screamed louder as the wood smacked her in the face. "Clear!" Officers ran into my room and surrounded the perimeter while leaving a pathway to my crib.
Our grandfather walked in. His greenish blue eyes sparkled as he walked through the dim light of our nursery. His nose was crooked from the war when he broke it and refused to fix it. His face wasn't littered with wrinkles, but they were beginning to pop up around his face.
He wore his black jumpsuit with the gold crown embroidered on the chest. He almost never took it off. "That's the-"
I cut Diana off. She was going to miss what our grandfather was about to say. He leaned over my crib and picked me up. He held me close to his chest. "Sh. It's okay. You're safe, Natalia."
Diana's jaw dropped. "He's...you're..."
I grabbed her wrist. "Come on. We're not done."
Thalia and Nate were running down the long hallway leading toward the front gate of the castle. This was Diana's memory, but it told the rest of the story I missed. I let it play more for my own education than anything else. Once Diana and I were out of this memory, there was no way she'd let me back in her mind. This was my one and only chance for answers.
"Stop right there!" shouted an Electro Officer.
The air crackled behind us but it didn't matter much. Thalia, Nate, and baby Diana were already stepping through a portal. It was the last attempt to stop them and it failed. Diana and I followed after Thalia, Nate, and baby Diana without a glance back.
We popped up in the middle nowhere. Thalia was bouncing Diana up and down in her arms. "That was too close," said Nate.
Baby Diana wailed. "I know, but I couldn't leave her without saying goodbye. She needed to know we care about her too."
I shook my head. The goodbye was to clear her own conscious. It did nothing for me. If she truly cared, like she said, she would've taken me too or, better yet, stayed.
Nate closed the space between him and Thalia with his fists clenched. "I'm sure that's what she'll be thinking when she remembers we left her with him, Thalia."
Diana stared at Thalia and Nate arguing. She didn't dare look at me. "You were the baby we left."
I nodded. "Mom and Dad chose to take you."
Thalia was still bouncing baby Diana up and down. "You're not making this easier," screamed Thalia.
Nate sighed. "I'm just saying she's going to feel abandoned by us whether or not you visited her one last time. If we'd left when I said, we wouldn't have had those guards chasing us. What if Diana had gotten hurt?"
Thalia pulled Diana closer to her chest. I hated seeing all the affection she got from our parents. "She didn't."
"But what if?" yelled Nate.
"I don't know what I would've done! Is that what you want to hear, Nate?"
Nate wrapped an arm around Thalia, creating a family hug between the three of them. It made me sick. "No. I'm sorry. I know this is hard for you." A single tear rolled down Thalia's cheek. "We'll see her again. I promise." They'll see me, alright, when I finally bring them to justice for their crimes.
Thalia and Nate stepped through another portal. Diana and I walked over to it in silence. Both of us were processing this new information and neither knew what to say to the other.
We appeared outside some house that could've used some renovations. Plants grew out of the gutters and vines grew up the side of the house. This wasn't where I'd take Diana. She was a TWA princess, precious cargo. This place was a dump and unworthy of her presence.
Thalia and Nate created a cute little wicker basket on the front porch of the house before they place Diana inside. Thalia squatted down. "We love you, Diana." Nate joined Thalia on the porch, I guess he thought it fine to say a final goodbye to Diana but not me. They both kissed Diana on the forehead before Nate pulled Thalia to her feet.
I watched as a third portal opened behind our parents. "Come find us when you're older," said Thalia. They knocked on the door before hopping into a portal.
I ended the memories there. What happened next didn't involve me and it was personal for Diana. I forced her to relive this memory again, but I wouldn't invade that portion of the memory. I couldn't make myself do that.
Diana and I pulled our minds apart and returned to our respective bodies. I opened my eyes to see Diana still had hers closed. "Diana."
Diana shook her head. "No."
I was reluctant to take her hand. We hardly knew each other. It didn't seem right to take her hand. "Talk to me, Diana."
Diana's brown eyes opened. "You're the Princess of the TWA."
I nodded. "So are you."
Diana jumped off the bed. "No."
I slid my legs off the side of the bed, but I didn't get up. Sitting was a more vulnerable position, which made me look like less of a threat. "Thalia and Nate were our parents. If I'm a princess, so are you."
Diana pressed her head between her hands. "No. No!"
I locked the entire building down to keep Jesse out and Diana in. "I need you to listen to me."
Diana ran for the door. "Help me!"
I soundproofed the entire building. Jesse needed to remain outside while I tried to calm Diana down. I could only focus on one Molecular at a time. "Diana." Diana tugged at the door. "Diana!" She stopped. "I'm not going to hurt you."
Diana placed her back against the door. "What do you want from me?"
I stood up from the bed, but stayed close to it. Diana needed her space and I respected that. "Nothing. I'm just glad to find you again."
Diana's hand was still stuck on the door knob as if she was waiting for her moment to escape. "I am not going to the TWA."
I picked at my fingernails. "Grandfather has been worried about you. He just wants you to come home."
Diana shook her head. "No. He killed my parents."
I pressed my lips together and bit my tongue. Now was not the time for an outburst from me. "He did kill your adoptive parents but that doesn't mean he doesn't care about you. He's been searching for you since Nate and Thalia took you from the palace. He wants our family to be whole again."
Diana shook her head more violently. "You're lying!"
I grabbed onto the bed frame. "He's the only family that cares about us, Diana. Nate and Thalia abandoned us, their children. What kind of parents would do that?"
Diana stood still. "They took me away from the king because he's dangerous. They did what they did to protect me."
I crossed the room in two steps. "No. They did it for their own selfish reasons. They didn't want us to be together as a family. They wanted us to be alone in this world."
Tears were building up in Diana's chocolate eyes. I took a step back. I obviously hit a nerve. "They split us up to protect us. Didn't you hear what they said?"
I laughed. "How can you be so naive? We weren't in any danger."
I slid her back from the door with a flick of my wrist. "Listen to me. I'm here to reunite our family. I only came back for you. You're all that matters to me."
Diana narrowed her eyes. "You seem to be telling the truth."
I nodded. "I would never lie to you." I could feel Diana reaching out for the lock on the building with her powers. She was looking for a way out. She was amusing me as a distraction. "Why aren't you giving me a chance?"
Diana kept pushing at the lock. "You've clearly been brainwashed, Natalia. Let me help you get the care you need."
I strengthened the locks around the building. "The only person who's been brainwashed is you. You're still thinking like the humans. It's time to wake up! You're not one of them!"
Diana slammed her mind against the lock around the building, sending it crashing down around us. "I am. Help me!" she screamed on the top of her lungs.
I locked my mind down and protected everything important, mainly my true memories. If I was going to ride this out until Diana came to her senses, I was going to have to be Natalia the rogue. Natalia the princess would get me tortured and killed at the hands of the Rebels.
Jesse burst through the door, looking for the danger only to find Diana and me standing in the middle of the room. Diana pointed her finger at me. "She's a TWA spy. They turned her."
Jesse threw up a box of molecules around me to prevent me from escaping. I got down on the ground, throwing my hands behind my head even though I could easily escape this box. This was about to get interesting.