Tell me about her - about Elain,” Lucien said quietly. As if the death that squatted in the dark beside us had drawn his thoughts to his own mate as well.
I debated not saying anything, shaking too hard to dredge up speech, but … “She loves her garden. Always loved growing things. Even when we were destitute, she managed to tend a little garden in the warmer months. And when - when our fortune returned, she took to tending and planting the most beautiful gardens you’ve ever seen. Even in Prythian. It drove the servants mad, because they were supposed to do the work and ladies were only meant to clip a rose here and there, but Elain would put on a hat and gloves and kneel in the dirt, weeding. She acted like a purebred lady in every regard but that.”
Lucien was silent for a long moment. “Acted,” he murmured. “You talk about her as if she’s dead.”
“I don’t know what changes the Cauldron wrought on her. I don’t think going home is an option. No matter how she might yearn to.”
“Surely Prythian is a better alternative, war or no.”
I steeled myself before saying, “She is engaged, Lucien.”
I felt every inch of him go stiff beside me. “To whom.”
Flat, cold words. With the threat of violence simmering beneath.
“To a human lord’s son. The lord hates faeries - has dedicated his life and wealth to hunting them. Us. I was told that though it’s a love match, her betrothed’s father was keen to have access to her considerable dowry to continue his crusade against faerie-kind.”
“Elain loves this lord’s son.” Not quite a question.
“She says she does. Nesta - Nesta thought the father and his obsession with killing faeries was bad enough to raise some alarms. She never voiced the concern to Elain. Neither did I.”
“My mate is engaged to a human male.” He spoke more to himself than to me.
“I’m sorry if -”
“I want to see her. Just once. Just - to know.”
“To know what?”
He hitched my damp cloak higher around us. “If she is worth fighting for.
For example, the homophobic argument of older people that gay marriage ruins the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. To the members of the audience, who are probably younger, this sounds absurd! I mean, I don’t particularly like broccoli… but I’m aware that other people are eating it. I don’t look at my peas and carrots and go “well, they’re not really vegetables now, are they”.