Hybern, Cassian pov
Shit, shit, shit.
This wasn’t how things were supposed to happen, Cassian thought, while he gripped Azriel as best and as gently as he could, desperate for an exit, for a way of getting his family out of that damned room.
But that bastard of the King had them by the balls.
Azriel’s blood dripped on the floor, drip, drip, drip. They needed to find a healer as soon as possible, before the situation got even worse.
“There will be no destroying”, the King said.
Like fuck it won’t.
He will tear down this palace brick by bloody brick and everyone who dared touch his family with it.
But when the Mortal Queens entered the room and Cassian understood.
This was a trap and they had fallen into it.
Every muscle in his body went taut, ready to strike, punch and do whatever he had to do to get Azriel out of that room.
“Because you will find, Feyre Archeron,” the King continued, “ that it is in your best interest to behave.”
When the queens parted to let their guards pass, Cassian’s heart stopped.
This wasn’t possible, their house was protected, he and Rhys made sure of that, there were guards and no one was supposed to get in-but there she was with her younger sister.
Nesta Archeron was gagged, her hair a wild mess and her nightgown was torn and ruined and he knew she had fought, fought with every ounce of her mortal strength and it wasn’t enough, that steel will of hers wasn’t enough and the breath coming in quick gulps in her lungs was like ice in his.
“You made a very big mistake,” the king said to Rhys, Feyre held steadily in his arms, “the day you went after the Book. I had no need of it. I was content to let it lie hidden. But the moment your forces started sniffing around … I decided who better than to be my liaison to the human realm than my newly reborn friend, Jurian? He’d just finished all those months of recovering from the process, and longed to see what his former home had become, so he was more than happy to visit the continent for an extended visit.”
The Queens smiled at the King.
Those lying, blasted bitches.
“The brave, cunning Jurian, who suffered so badly at the end of the War—now my ally. Here to help me convince these queens to aid in my cause. For a price of his own, of course, but it has no bearing here. And wiser to work with me, my men, than to allow you monsters in the Night Court to rule and attack. Jurian was right to warn their Majesties that you’d try to take the Book—that you would feed them lies of love and goodness, when he had seen what the High Lord of the Night Court was capable of. The hero of the human forces, reborn as a gesture to the human world of my good faith. I do not wish to invade the continent—but to work with them. My powers ensconced their court from prying eyes, just to show them the benefits.” The king smirked at Azriel, and his brother tried to lift his head to snarl at that poor excuse of a man. “Such impressive attempts to infiltrate their sacred palace, Shadowsinger—and utter proof to their Majesties, of course, that your court is not as benevolent as you seem.”
“Liar,” Feyre hissed, and whirled on the queens. Cassian only tried to imagine how terrifying this situation was for her, “They are liars, and if you do not let my sisters go, I will slaughter—”
“Do you hear the threats, the language they use in the Night Court?” Cassian couldn’t believe what he was hearing. That man, of all people, was trying to portray them as monsters.
“Slaughter, ultimatums … They wish to end life. I desire to give it.”
“Then show us—prove this gift you mentioned.”, the eldest Queen said. Stupid, stupid and greedy woman.
Rhys seemed to read his mind as he looked at the old woman and said, “You’re a fool.”
“Is she?” the King answered “ Why submit to old age and ailments when what I offer is so much better? Eternal youth. Do you deny the benefits? A mortal queen becomes one who might reign forever. Of course, there are risks—the transition can be … difficult. But a strong-willed individual could survive.”
He was drowning in the sound of Nesta’s panting and Azriel’s blood meeting the floor, again and again and again.
“Show us. Demonstrate it can be done, that it is safe.”
The king nodded. “Why did you think I asked my dear friend Ianthe to see who Feyre Archeron would appreciate having with her for eternity?” He saw as Feyre’s head turned to the Queens, “Oh, I asked them first. They deemed it too … uncouth to betray two young, misguided women. Ianthe had no such qualms. Consider it my wedding present for you both,” he added to the High Lord of Spring, and his face tightened. “What?”, Tamlin asked and Cassian’s fists trembled with the need of punching his face in.
The king cocked his head, savoring every word. “I think the High Priestess was waiting until your return to tell you, but didn’t you ever ask why she believed I might be able to break the bargain? Why she had so many musings on the idea? So many millennia have the High Priestesses been forced to their knees for the High Lords. And during those years she dwelled in that foreign court … such an open mind, she has. Once we met, once I painted for her a portrait of a Prythian free of High Lords, where the High Priestesses might rule with grace and wisdom … She didn’t take much convincing.”
The jaw of the emissary nearly hit the ground,“She sold out—she sold out Feyre’s family. To you.”
“Sold out?” The bastard snorted. “Or saved from the shackles of mortal death? Ianthe suggested they were both strong-willed women, like their sister. No doubt they’ll survive. And prove to our queens it can be done. If one has the strength.”
No. He would not let Nesta and Elain to be used as experiments, he had promised to defend her and her family how could he look her in the eyes again if something happened to her? Or to Elain? Cassian didn’t even want to think what would be of Nesta if she lost Elain.
“Don’t you-”, Feyre tried to say, but the King interrupted her.
“I suggest bracing yourselves.”
Cassian only had the time to twist and shield Azriel from the wave of power before pain like he never knew engulfed him.
And all he could feel were his wings turning to shreds and he heard himself scream as darkness took him down and everything turned black.
He was vaguely aware of what was happening around him, the only thing he could feel was pain and-her screams were the only thing in his head, the pain and fear and rage in it like a weight on his chest.
He wanted to get up, wanted to save her, to get her out, he wanted to do everything in his power to get everyone he loved and cared for out of there alive, everything.
But he couldn’t.
And her screams, Mother, her screams.
He tried to move toward her, his hand scraped the floor stretching the fingers as much as he could, blindly toward her, always toward her.
Cassian felt it, that string tying him to her from the first moment he saw her, that pull so primordial and intrinsic and he prayed that would be enough, enough to pull them both out of this situation but his body felt like it was miles and miles away and his wings, his wings-
Her screams where roaring in his head and she was scared, so scared and he tried, he tried, he tried and he failed her, again and again and again.
There was something near her now, something powerful and evil and horrible and she was so scared why didn’t someone get to her? Didn’t they know how scared she was, how terrified?
Get to her, please get her out she’s scared she’s so scared, save her, get her out, please get her out of here
He opened his eyes, willed himself to do it. Cassian had to know what was happening, what were they doing to her but all he got was a blurry view of the ceiling before his eyes closed again.
Suddenly her rage was so overwhelming and it was all he could feel and then-
Her screaming stopped.
He felt his lungs constrict painfully and she couldn’t breath, why couldn’t she breath? What were they doing to her,
he will kill them, each and everyone of them from the Queens to the King to that stupid Spring Lord,
give her air, why can’t she breath? Cassian felt his own head rolling back, trying to get air in his own lungs as if it could go in hers and he pulled and pulled and pulled on that string in his chest, in his blood, in his heart calling her, tugging on that string, drawing her to him but there was water in her lungs, too much of it but she was still fighting, clawing kicking and it changed nothing and her heart was slowing and he wished it was his because he had promised her, after seeing her courage and her heart he had promised to protect her. And didn’t.
She was being broken and remade and broken again only to be pieced together one more time.
And her heart stopped beating.
And he felt it, he felt it in every part of his body, every part of his soul the moment she stopped fighting, and there was only silence and he felt hollow, so hollow-
But then she came back to him.
And she was different, powerful and incredible and her scent filled him and that string, the string caught fire and was forged into something else, something powerful and unbreakable and he knew.