No one made a move to help him, and she struck him once
more with her power. The red marble splintered where he hit it, spiderwebbing
toward me. With wave after wave she hit him. Rhys groaned.
“Stop,” I breathed, blood filling my mouth as I strained a hand to
reach her feet. “Please.”
Rhys’s arms buckled as he fought to rise, and blood dripped from
his nose, splattering on the marble. His eyes met mine.
The bond between us went taut. I flashed between my body and his,
seeing myself through his eyes, bleeding and broken and sobbing.
I’m just. Going to curl into a ball and cry myself to sleep okay? “No one made a move to help him” is just so…painful yet justified on their parts. Rhys has carved out this place for himself, this no-man’s land. And it’s what I talked about before with the question of how far he went and whether it was ever too far. And he walks an incredibly thin line here to truly fall in a neutral zone whereby no-one will help him…but they won’t help Amarantha either. But he’s alienated himself and I wonder about that over the last 50 years. With no allies but no real enemies either. Just emptiness. It’s not difficult to see how Feyre and Rhys bond so closely in ACOMAF with the similar experiences that they’ve had.
And I also love that the follow-up to this, to Feyre realising that no-one was helping Rhys…is to reach out and help him herself. Amarantha has shattered her bones at this point, tortured her far beyond anything she’s ever endured…and she lies on the floor, bloody and battered and exhausted and she asks her to stop…She asks her to stop hurting Rhys.
There’s some really painful parallels going on here? Rhys slaved for Amarantha for fifty years and didn’t dream of killing her for himself. He didn’t pick up that dagger for himself. He was content to let Tamlin have that final kill; he’d already told Feyre that. He picked it up for Feyre. He picked it up for his mate. Amarantha hurting Feyre was what pushed him into action. And that’s just. So important for their dynamic. Rhys saves Feyre in ACOMAF. But as I’ve said before, she’s already saved him in ACOTAR.
And I love that it’s at this moment that Feyre becomes fully aware of that bond and how closely it binds her to Rhys. She still thinks it’s the bargain, the tattoo, but she feels it in this moment. As they reach for each other. As these two neutral people, the ones that weren’t worth either helping or harming beyond what was happening, these two battered, broken souls made to feel worthless by the world, who won’t lift a finger to defend themselves, reach for each other, help each other and take that first step together down a very long road to healing.
Summary: Feyre/Rhys, first person, mixed POVs. Feyre leaves the Spring Court after being discovered as the Night Court spy. She rushes to meet her mate where he’s waiting for in the Summer Court, just across the border. Post ACOMAF/ACOWAR reunion. Long. (shockingly)
Teaser: Keep going. I have to keep going. Rhys, Rhys, Rhys. As though he hears me, as though he knows, I feel him call
me. Feyre. He whispers to me, the
word echoing through my mind, my heart, my very soul. Feyre. Urging me on, urging me to him, not letting me give up, not
yet. Feyre. I keep going. I keep
running. I keep fighting. Feyre. For
him. For him.
My heart shudders in my chest. The hammer striking the anvil
of my ribs. The battering ram that slams against its cage of bone, seeking
freedom. My lungs are too tight, too small and shrinking all the time. Smaller
and smaller and smaller and smaller, squeezing the air from me until there’s
I stuff my hands in my pockets to hide the shaking. Hide the
fact I’m dragging my nails over my skin again and again and again in my
agitation. Hide my body’s betrayal of me. Hide the evidence of my pain, my
fear, my panic. Still driven to hide from those who would see only weakness to
exploit. Hide though I’m utterly alone here.
Clenching my hands into tight fists to stop the nervous
movement I close my eyes, seeking to calm myself. Free. I’m free. I got out. I’m free. Words Mor had taught me, the only ones that
had helped her after what she had endured. The only ones that help me now. I got out. I’m free. So is Feyre.
Closing my eyes I breathe deeply, letting the light, fresh
air fill me. All I can hear are the sounds of the Summer sea lapping against
the beach. Cold water tugs gently at my ankles. My bare feet have sunk into the
cool sand from the time I’ve spent standing here. The ocean has long-since claimed
the footprints I had left upon the sand as he paced the border line between
Summer. Now I wait, still as the stars that have begun to bloom in the sky
overhead. Waiting. Waiting.
All I can smell is sea. Not her. Not yet. But soon. Soon. I
open the bond wide, searching, reaching for her, whispering her name into the
void of pulsing music that forms their bond.
My feet pound over the hard earth beneath them. A frantic
rhythm, like the hands that beat upon the drums of Calanmai, the thundering
hooves of a deer as she flees the starving wolf. Faster, faster, my body
screams in protest, my muscles bark in pain but I push myself on.
Sweat drenches my back, chilling my feverish skin when the
bite of the chill wind finds it. Running in rivulets down my back, it stings my
eyes, making them water, my vision blurring but I don’t stop. Can’t stop. Can’t
look back. I can only go on.
My chest is tight, burning, as though I’m breathing ash into
my lungs with every gulp of air I choke down. Dizzy and sick I know I have to
keep going. If I stop then I lose everything. Thoughts of Rhys keep me going.
My mate, my love, waiting for me. Always waiting. Five hundred years for me to come
into this world. Months to watch me die and drag me back into this world only to
let me be with another male, to let me love as I would. Weeks to slowly help me
put myself back together, help me be strong, help me survive. Hours to have me.
Seconds to lose me once more. Waiting again, waiting for me to contact him with
information and updates and waiting for me now, waiting for me to come back to
Soon I tell
myself, soon I will see him again. I just have to keep going, keep going, keep
going. I had spent most of my power escaping the house and now I find myself
pursued. The spy overturned, the huntress hunted through the woods like the
deer I had once stalked to feed my family. Tamlin’s wolves are close on my
heels. I might be the High Lady of the Night Court, the Made daughter of all
seven courts, I’m exhausted and I know it’s not within my power to overwhelm a
dozen of Tamlin’s sentries, gifted, centuries old High Fae each and every one.
I had left the Spring Court manor a day before and had not
stopped running since. Not since Tamlin had learned of my treachery. Since he
had torn apart the house in his fury and horror at what he had discovered. Since
he had realised that the bride of Spring was now the lady of Night and that I
belonged to no-one and nothing but the darkness in my soul I had learned to
make my home.
I had embraced that darkness as I left him, more fully than
I had ever done before. For my world, for my court, for my family, for my mate,
I had unleashed every bit of power I
possessed. I had shown him every piece of me, had shown him who I was, had made
him see me, see me and understand me. For the first time since the fateful day
when he burst through the thin wooden door of the cottage I had lived in with
my family he had seen who and what I truly was.
I was a survivor. I was the Cursebreaker, the Defender of
the Rainbow, High Lady of the Night Court. I had survived death and the abyss
that had followed. I had risen filthy and bloodstained from the ashes of that
mortal girl that had died. And I had triumphed. I had been reborn. I had healed.
I had conquered. I had made every demon that stalked the dark recesses of my
soul go in fear of my name. I was Feyre Archeron and I had taught them all
exactly what that meant.
When the Spring Court had come down around me, Tamlin’s
bellow of fury still sounding in my ears I had run. I had run. Faster than I
had ever run in my life. To my mate, my mate, my mate. My heart pounds in time
with those words, that mantra, that echoes through my mind like a forgotten
prayer. My heart keeps time with those words, those words keep time with my
heart and both drive me on. A little
more, just a little more, just a little more. Not long now. Not far now. Soon.
Over. It’s over now. The realisation shocks me to my core as
I realise the true depth of my freedom, of what this will feel like, for the
first time in my life…to be truly free .No longer will I wear the mask of the
meek, shattered doll. No longer will I pretend to be Tamlin’s pet, his delicate
blushing pride. No longer will I lie and manipulate and cheat and spy. No
longer will I be anything but what I am. No longer will I live for anyone but
As I tear through the woods my focus narrows, my senses
sharpen, as they had when I had stalked game as a starving mortal girl
desperate to feed her family. There had been nothing but my prey. Nothing but
the life I must take to save my own and my family’s. Life for life – balancing
the scales of fate. If I was to cheat death I must become it, must claim what I
needed, must pay what I owed, what I had stolen.
It had all been
borrowed time, time taken from the lives I had harvested. Every breath, every
beat of my heart had cost. And I had paid. Paid in blood again and again. In
those moments I had known only that, that price, as I had walked that thin grey
line like a tightrope. Death or life, life or death, it had all contracted down
to that second, that heartbeat, that single, blinding, burning light of life
that reduced all the world around it to darkness that I had snuffed out with an
The world blots itself out into nothingness once more as I
focus my thoughts, my entire being, upon my mate. The single candle that has
burned against the cold, beckoning oblivion that had consumed me in those
months after everything had happened. The light that continues to guide me now,
and always will, as I run to it, to him.
The trees of the lush Spring woods flash past me. Rich
emerald greens peppered with lighter hues, accenting the scene, the deeper,
darker notes underlying it all. Browns and blacks provide contrast and make
everything seem denser and darker. Here and there flickers and flashes of
colour, flowers and animals, burst across my vision like shooting stars.
Beautiful. This court is beautiful on the surface.
Misleading. Blinding me to the true nature of its festering black heart. A rose
I could have contemplated for years, marvelling at the bold, bright colours,
mesmerised by the endless delicate folds of the overlapping petals, splayed
like the skirts of a dress mid-dance. It would have kept me enthralled for
decades, held in stasis, suspended as though in a trance, never noticing the
thorns that tore me to shreds, the roots that would have crept over my body,
trapping me in place as they slowly squeezed the life from me.
I feel every rock and root beneath my feet. Hear every
ragged breath that falls from my lips. Sense every creature that hides from me,
judging me, marking me as too deadly to consider hunting, knowing that they
would court death to keep me from my mate. The smooth wood of my bow slides
between my hands, the scent of the varnish strong in my nose. The familiar
weight of it feels good, makes me feel grounded and in control.
Not long now. Not far. The border draws me ever nearer. Exhaustion
sinks deep into my bones, filling them, seeping into the hollows like lead,
dragging me down. I want so badly to rest, I want to sleep, I want to collapse
to my knees and be consumed by darkness and find some peace at last. I want to
drown in dreams and forget. No more fear, no more anticipation, no more lies or
pain or war or loss, no more.
Keep going. I have to keep going. Rhys, Rhys, Rhys.
As though he hears me, as though he knows, I feel him call
me. Feyre. He whispers to me, the
word echoing through my mind, my heart, my very soul. Feyre. Urging me on, urging me to him, not letting me give up, not
yet. Feyre. I keep going. I keep
running. I keep fighting. Feyre. For
him. For him.
Rhys I whisper back
through the bond.
I spread my wings out behind me, trying to shake out the
knots. The muscles in them, like all others in my body, are tight. Drawn back
like the string of a bow, ready to launch me into the air like an arrow shot
among the stars. My instincts roar at me to fly. Fly and fly and fly until I
fall. Until the stars find that some darkness is too black for even them to
call home and cast me out.
I had never felt trapped within my own skin before I had
found myself a prisoner in Amarantha’s black court for fifty years. Like
clothes that are too tight it itches and suffocates until I long to tear myself
from it, free myself from the confines of my own mind. The desire plagues me
and to fight it, to spite it, to spite her,
she who made my body betray me, made me into her own twisted fantasy and my own
festering nightmare, I force myself to remain unnaturally still.
I give my wings a sharp snap, trying to rid them of their
knots before tucking them in against my body once more. I keep my eyes closed,
not wanting to see the evidence of how late she is painted across the sky by a
bold, mocking hand as the sun sinks towards the horizon, dying the rich blue
sky a fantastic burst of reds and golds. My mind screams that truth at me quite
loudly enough as it is.
Late. Late. She should be here. She should be in my arms.
She should have been hours ago. Late. Missing. Hurt. Gone- No, no I would know,
I would have felt it. Reason and terror make my trembling body into their torn
up battlefield as they war over the right to rule my heart and mind. Panic wins
out, rising, boiling my blood, obliterating my reason.
I close my eyes and think of my mate, ground myself in
memories of her. Feyre is strong, smart, a constant survivor. She has spent her
entire life defying the odds, doing things the Mother herself would have deemed
impossible. She delights in proving them all wrong, spitting in the face of
death herself and refusing to apologise for it. She was my High Lady, my mate,
and every shred of logic I possessed told me she would be fine. But it was
difficult to hear the cool, composed words of logic over the deafening
cacophony of screams my panic has become.
I feel the beast stir beneath my skin. I feel my bones shift,
my muscles melt like Feyre’s paints running in the rain. I feel talons pushing
against my restraint, threatening to puncture through my paper thin self-control.
I feel the roar of untamed fury in my blood, more than ready to unleash itself
upon the world that would keep my mate from me. I am straining against my iron
will, on the verge of losing everything, giving in to that side of me that I
despise but that I can’t keep caged much longer, not in the state I’m presently
in. Then a soft summer breeze runs gentle fingers through my hair. The tang of
salt, the soft scent of wildflowers, the warmth of this court…And carried
upon it wood varnish and fresh cut grass.
Her. Her scent.
My eyes snap open again.
On, on, on, on.
Rhys pulses through me with every shuddering beat of my
heart, as though he is a fire that burns in my blood, surging to every part of
me, lending me his strength even as my own fails. Close, he’s closer to me now
than he’s been in weeks. I can feel him, can feel the bond, can feel him
hammering on the other side of it, clawing at it, determined to break through
our barriers to get to me. Just as I am with him.
We’ve had to silence it for weeks for my safety, bury it
down deep inside ourselves to prevent me being discovered, even though it had
killed both of us to do it. It had been torture. Worse than any physical pain I
had ever endured. Shutting him out, keeping him away from me, refusing to let
him in, refusing to let myself feel him, not communicating unless it was
absolutely necessary and only ever in brief bursts, quick words that only left
us more miserable, more desperate to be together again.
Now the bond burns and sings with him. Anticipation tights
low and hot in my belly. It’s a sensation I’ve become sickeningly familiar with
these past few weeks. Constantly on edge, constantly unsettled, never relaxed,
never at ease, always waiting. Waiting, fearing, dreading the moment I would be
caught, the things I would have to do for my court, for the friends who had
become family, for the male who now meant everything to me.
This is a different kind of animal however. This is a head
anticipation, like hot whiskey sliding down my throat, fire burning through my
veins, thunder clouds gathering around me, waiting to break. This is the
irresistible pull towards something I want more than I can ever fully
comprehend. A drive that is deeper than thought, deeper than reason, deeper
than want, deeper than need, deeper even than base instinct. This is a call
that sings from the very core of his soul. A call that was heard and drawn to
by mine before I ever knew it was there. A wish that was whispered on a stolen
breath into the safety of silent, peaceful night and answered over and over
again by my love.
I feel the hum and taste the sharp tang of magic on my
tongue as I reach the border between the Spring and Summer courts. Where freedom
waits. Behind me lies Tamlin, still rattling love gilded shackles that he seeks
to bind me with. Behind me lies my prison, my cage. Beautiful and comfortable
and so safe but a cage all the same.
Behind me lies the toxic love that would have killed us both. Behind me lies
the past, black and bruised and broken as I had been. Behind me lies the
shattered chains that I will never wear again; the cracked porcelain and fraying
strings of the broken doll I will never be again; the hollowed eyes that may
yet haunt my dreams but that I will never look into when I face a mirror again.
Before me is my mate. My family. My court. My life. My
future. My own.
I close my eyes and press my palm to the crackling shield
which is all that stands between me and my salvation. I think of summer, of
lapping waves and glittering pearls and the feeling of sand trapped between my
toes. Claimed by none and Made by all, creature of seven courts, I become Summer
itself and slip forever from the mantle of Spring.
I open my eyes and find a beach before me, bathed in the
rich, warm glow of the sun that allows itself to be swallowed once more by the
ever ravenous edges of the endless sea. The scent of it fills my nostrils but
then…Then my lungs are full of not only the sea but of citrus too. I exhale
in wonder only to greedily suck down another breath, needing to know, needing
to be sure, that it is, that it is…Him.
Rhys. My mate. My mate.
I begin to run again.
My wings billow like sails as they burst from my body, storm
clouds darkening a clear, peaceful horizon. Driving them down I launch myself
into the air in a single, powerful thrust upwards. My eyes scan the beach that unfolds
beneath me, the border line at the edges of my vision, this the closest I could
get to it, for my first sight of her.
It’s been weeks.
Weeks without seeing her, without holding her, without touching her. Torture. Worse
by far than anything I had felt in those months when we had escaped from
Amarantha and she had been stuck in that court, wasting away a little more each
day. Then the bond had been new and so fragile compared to the raging torrent
that now bridges us. It had been quiet, meek, gentle tugs against my soul,
urging me patiently to go to her, to help her, to seek her out. At the time it
had been a torment, an agony I had drowned with work and my joy at being
reunited with the family I had never expected to see again until we all entered
the void and found one another again on the other side.
Now that the bond has been sealed between us it feels like a
hurricane bursting from my bones and shredding my vulnerable being to shreds
with its fury at our separation and my meek acceptance of it. My respect and
love for Feyre can’t simply nullify hundreds of years worth of instincts and
it’s been a near constant battle against them, one I’m increasingly beginning
to lose as my nerves begin to fray dangerously close to the core of my fears.
My wings cleave at the open sky again to keep me aloft and my
eyes rake continually over the landscape before me. When she rounds the bend
and tears onto the beach as though being chased with death herself snapping at
her heels the breath leaves my lungs. But I know that she and I are quite alone
here, that she is being pursued by nothing but her own desperate need to see me
again, as strong as my need for her.
As she looks up at me I allow my wings to stop beating even
as my heart does. I free-fall to the soft sand below. I see her stop opposite
me, chest heaving, sweat clinging to her in a thin sheen, heightening her scent
to a near maddening pitch. And her eyes…Those beautiful, startling blue-grey
eyes, stubborn and fierce and unyielding as the Illyrian mountains, are fixed
right on me.
For a moment we simply stop and compel the world to do the
same. Eternity balances on a knife’s edge; the impossible weight of the future
is taken from our shoulders and suspended by a thread as fine as silk above us.
The space between us remains taut and frozen, like wings flared and drawn,
poised to pulse, to move, to pitch the world into motion again.
But now we wait. Simply staring at each other. Every moment
that has passed before us and every moment that will condenses itself into the
pocket of space that is all that now separates us. Neither of us moves. Neither
of us speaks. Neither of us dares breathe. Afraid to break something, afraid to
break the thread, afraid to seize the one thing we want above all else where it
waits before us lest it be snatched away at the last moment. As everything in
our lives so often is.
Disbelief. Weeks I’ve waited for this moment. Hours I’ve
stood alone in this beach, knowing she was coming to me. Yet all I feel now is
disbelief. Because she’s here. Here. After so long, so much fear, so much pain,
so much loss and uncertainty and risk. The potential to lose everything- again-
had loomed over me like a death shroud every day she had been gone. But she’s
here. Here. Whole. Unharmed. Free. Mine.
The knife slips. The thread snaps. The moment shatters. My
heart dares another beat. And we move, surging for each other, at precisely the
My feet slip over the loose sand, slick as silk, and I
falter for a moment as I attempt to adjust to it. It’s so different from the
steady, rugged forest floor of the Spring court. But I adapt after that first
stumble and fall into a new, swift rhythm that has me flying over the beach
I don’t know what strings my mate had to pull, what promises
he might have had to make, what threats or bribes or tricks were involved in
making this possible, allowing us to meet here in Summer after our banishment,
those blood rubies. I don’t care.
The exhaustion that had threatened to overwhelm me in the
Spring Court is gone. Blown away by the soft gusts of ocean air that carry my
mate’s scent to me. Stronger with every bounding step I take it fills my mouth,
my throat, my lungs, until I’m drowning in nothing but him. My aching muscles
quiet, my desperate flight through the Spring Court, pursued by Tamlin’s dogs, might
never have happened, already distant as a half-forgotten memory. There is only
him, only Rhys. The bond swelling between us all the time, blossoming like a
new sky in the dark heavens, pulling me to him.
I hurtle around a bend and the full expanse of the small
golden beach, bathed in the last rays of the dying sun, unfolds before me,
pristine and perfect. And there he is. Hovering above it all. Rhys. My Rhys. A
midnight silhouette against the glowing sky behind him.
The sun blazes at his back, burning through those
magnificent translucent wings, spread to their fullest extent, dominating the
scene before me. Hot red veins, like liquid fire pulsing through black rock,
stand out against the rich velvet canvas of the thin membrane. My mind begins
cataloguing every colour, every shade, wondering how I might capture each and
every one of them, how I might preserve this moment with paint and brush. I
want to store it all in some vault in my mind I can draw upon later. The rich
crushed blackberry violet of his illuminated wings. The roaring fiery reds,
oranges and yellows that flare around him. The deep, uncut sapphire blue of the
ocean at his back. The moonlight white of the sand at my feet that sparkles at
my feet like a diamond hoard.
I want to capture this moment forever in my mind, place it
onto canvas the same way it’s imprinted itself upon my heart. My mate seems to
erupt as though a sun has exploded behind me, bursting forth in tendrils of
pure, bright light, consuming me . I feel as though I’m watching the rebirth of
a god, binding himself into a body of flesh and blood and bone as he descends
to earth. A shooting star that falls at my feet. For me. All for me.
My mate. Beautiful. Terrible. Crafted from power and cunning
and compassionate grace. Perfect. Flawed. Strong. Vulnerable. Infinite. Mine.
He folds his wings and lets himself crash to the ground,
body bowing as he absorbs the impact of the fall. Straightening to his full
height his eyes meet mine at once and a jolt of pure, raw emotion snaps through
me. His eyes a rich, violet sky, that burst with the starlight returned to them
again in my presence.
I barely dare to breathe as I look at him. This moment feels
so achingly, so dangerously fragile. Like a baby bird cradled in my hands I’m
afraid if I hold it too tightly, if I seize onto it the way I want to, to press
it to my chest and keep it against my heart I’ll crush it even as I aim to
preserve it. But my chest is heaving with exertion and emotion that tightens to
a hard lump in my throat. Swallowing I try to push my heart back down where it
belongs beneath my ribs but it refuses to move.
All I can do is look, just look, at my mate and the space
between us. Like a painting upon the wall all I can do is stare at it, frozen
and immobile, its subjects cursed to remain in that one snapshot of time for
eternity. I would spend a hundred eternities in this…If only I could hold
Then something, something in both of us, buried deep beneath
my understanding, snaps at the same time. One moment we’re both standing at
either end of the beach, staring at one another, trying to convince ourselves that
we, that this, is real. Then we’re moving, moving at exactly the same time,
launching ourselves towards each other.
The bond explodes between us and for a heartbeat I slip from
my body, from my self, and see through Rhys’s eyes.
I’m dimly aware of him experiencing the same thing in
reverse, seeing himself as I see him. But my focus, as Rhys’s is, quickly
becomes consumed by me. Dressed in worn, dark flying leathers, covered in blood
and sweat and filth, my hair dragged back in a now loose and fraying braid…Somehow,
in over five and a half centuries in this world, of all the things he’s
witnessed, all the things he’s experienced, the sight of me, ragged and
exhausted and half-dead on my feet, is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
The most beautiful thing he thinks he’ll ever see.
A second before our bodies crash together with all the raw,
untamed energy of a wild, unchecked thunderstorm, I come back to myself to feel
his arms wrap tightly around me.
"The job is mine, Shortcake,” Joshua’s voice says. To stop myself from standing up and punching him in the gut I’m counting one, two, three, four … “Funny, that’s what Helene just told me.” I watch his backside walk away in the glossed surface of my desk, and vow that Joshua Templeman is going to lose the most important game we’ve ever played.
Happy birthday to the snapchat queen, a PS wizard and a great friend @cobaltcharlie ;*