Of Wistful Dreams (Feysand)
In which Rhys dreams of his mother and sister and Feyre decides to do something about it. Angst with a healthy coating of fluff.
She saw them sometimes in his dreams, when the unbreakable bond between them wasn’t quite so easy to block. Feyre always knew that Rhys’ mother and sister must have been beautiful, but nothing in her imagination could have compared to what she saw in his mind. Where his father always seemed to be shrouded in menacing shadow (so different from Azriel’s, Feyre noted), the women of his family always seemed to bring light and laughter. In the best of Rhys’ dreams, his mother wore a wide, wicked grin so like his own that Feyre sometimes had to do a double take. His sister’s smile, on the other hand, was a much softer thing, but still no less bright. She followed devotedly after her brother, half-running until a younger Rhys would swoop down and lift her onto his shoulders. Their mother was never far behind, laughing with them both, the sound as clear to Feyre as if she had been there herself.
The dreams were wistful, wishful things that Feyre felt honored to share. But she also saw how they haunted her mate in his waking hours. He had grieved for his blood family for many years… but he also had never had the chance to truly heal from their deaths, their murders. How could he have? He was known as the most powerful High Lord in history, but too often did his subjects, did the entirety of Prythian, forget that there was a soul as fragile as any other hiding underneath all that power.
And then there were the nights where the dreams became twisted, the light turning red as blood began to fill both Rhys’ and Feyre’s visions. The bodies of his mother, of his little sister, were almost unrecognizable by the time Rhys had found them, torn apart, matching midnight hair utterly soaked with the sheer amount of blood spilled.
Often, it was the last thing Rhys saw before he woke, pulling Feyre out of sleep with him.
Once, after a particularly grueling night, when Feyre had Rhys wrapped tightly in her arms – a vain attempt to protect him from the dreams that would do him harm – he had admitted to her that he was terrified that one day that image of their wrecked bodies would be the only thing he would remember of them both. That all those beautiful images, all those memories that kept them alive in his mind, would fade with time, leaving only blood and death and loneliness.
Feyre hadn’t been able to find anything to say in response back then. The only thing she’d been able to do was hold him tighter and run her fingers through his midnight hair.
After weeks more of the dreams and nightmares both, however, an idea popped into her head in the form of a painting. Feyre knew what Rhys’ mother and sister looked like so well that she almost forgotten that there were no more physical reminders left of them – Rhys’ father had gone on a rampage at the loss of his mate, destroying all of her and their daughter’s possessions. Including what few images existed of them.
That very night, she began to put her plan in motion, wandering into the Rainbow to get what she needed. She spent the next few days gathering supplies, taking her time. Of all her past projects, none mattered so much as this one; she needed the perfect colors, she needed to do this right.
Finally, she started. The process was painstakingly slow as she strived for perfection, but Feyre still found herself getting lost in the painting, in the vision of these women she wished she’d had the chance to meet.
The hardest part of the whole thing was keeping it from Rhys of course. Normally, he was such a big part of her art, always encouraging her, always ready to listen to her ramble on about it. But this time she would keep it secret.
“So what are you working on, my beautiful, wonderfully talented mate?” Rhys asked her, two weeks into her project. He rested warm hands on her waist, pressing his face into the bare skin of her neck. Thank the Cauldron Feyre had quick reflexes; she just barely managed to cover the painting in the darkness she’d received from him, blocking it completely from his view. An ironic twist of fate, that.
“You know flattery isn’t going to get you anywhere this time,” Feyre replied dryly. “You’ll find out soon enough. Patience.”
Rhys nipped at her neck, sending very specific images through their bond. “Or perhaps I can convince you into giving up your little secret?”
“Scoundrel,” Feyre scoffed, even as she leaned back into his solid warmth.
His voice was a pleased rumble. “Always.”
Needless to say she hadn’t got much more work done that day. But she also managed to keep the project from him a little longer, so she considered it a win regardless. (Though Rhys also won that round in a way, considering how much he enjoyed his convincing.)
And now… Now it was finally finished. And she could finally show him what had so occupied her time this past month. Feyre thought she should be happier about it, but she was only nervous, the feeling curdling in her stomach. For all that Rhys loved her paintings, she’d never done something like this for him before. What if the painting only made the grief worse for him? What if it became nothing more than another painful reminder?
It was too late to change course now, however. Not with Rhys already waiting by her side, staring at the cloth covered canvas in front of them. Feyre briefly considered leaving it covered up, but then Rhys put an encouraging hand on her elbow, his eyes gleaming at her knowingly. And so Feyre used her newfound courage to quickly pull the cloth away, before the temptation to run could not longer be pushed aside.
The revealed painting was met with nothing but all encompassing silence. The mating bond, normally so open between them, remained suspiciously cut off.
Feyre wondered what Rhys was thinking as he stared so intently at her latest creation. She knew what he was seeing – or hoped he was seeing. The painting depicted two utterly stunning women, standing hand-in-hand. The older and more striking of the two had her gorgeous, membranous wings spread out wide, a wild grin pulling at her lips, midnight hair spilling around her shoulders in glorious waves. Hazel eyes sparkled with mirth and love as she peered out of the painting, as if she was greeting a loved one finally coming home. By her side, her daughter looked gentler in comparison, standing perhaps half a head shorter than her mother despite being fully grown. Her own midnight hair had been meticulously braided – no doubt by her older brother – violet and pink and white flowers carefully woven in. She was meticulously dressed, but there was an undeniable hint of mischievousness in her purple-hued eyes. The hand that wasn’t intertwined with her mother’s was held out in front of her, reaching out – an invitation for the viewer to join them. The painting seemed to be backlit as well, as if the two women had just walked inside from a sunny day, giving the whole thing a bright and yet ethereal feel. Or so Feyre hoped.
Eventually, she dared to glance up at Rhys, finding an expression of pained wonder on his face. He looked infinitely sad… and yet there was a quality of peace about him as well, as if it healed something in him, to have this reminder of what he’d lost so long ago. Feyre felt her heart crack at the sight and couldn’t stop herself from reaching out to him, tangling their hands together until they almost mirrored the painting in front of them.
“I know you’re afraid you’ll forget about them one day, forget what they look like,” Feyre finally said, breaking the heavy silence. Her stomach still curdled with her nerves and she fiddled with the cloth of her dress as she looked at her mate. “I thought perhaps this might help.”
Rhys said nothing for a long moment, though his fingers tightened around hers. He lifted his free hand to the painting, first tracing the strong curve of his mother’s wings and then trailing his thumb down the length of his sister’s braid.
“They were so beautiful,” he whispered, the bond once again opening between them until he was showering her with image after image of the family he lost.
Feyre leaned into his side. “They were. They didn’t deserve their ending”
“No, they didn’t.” The grief that came with those simple words was immense and ancient.
Feyre ached for Rhys, ached for his pain. She regretted the painting for a brief moment (had she only caused him more pain?), but Rhys could not tear his eyes from it. He stared at it almost hungrily, memorizing each stroke, each color, each detail until Feyre was sure he could recreate the picture perfectly in his mind. The peace that she had sensed before seemed to settle once more, blanketing over his pain, giving him the kind of comfort he’d craved for centuries. And Feyre knew, without a doubt, that she’d done the right thing.
I didn’t want your last image of them to be of their broken bodies, she whispered in his mind as he continued to stare at her work.
Rhys swallowed roughly, his eyes gleaming with unshed tears. He lifted his head up to the sky first, overcome with emotion, before he finally turned his gaze to Feyre, the depth of it pinning her in place.
“You are a wonder, Feyre darling,” he told her, quietly serious.
“I knew that already,” she said with a teasing little smile, before allowing it to fade into something gentler. She touched the edge of his jaw. “But so are you, Rhys. And they would think so too. They would proud of what you accomplished here, but most of all of you are. Of that I have no doubt.”
Rhys turned fully to her then, leaning his forehead against hers, his eyes still shining with emotion even as he looked at their linked hands. “Thank you,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” Feyre replied, really meaning it.
Rhys smiled at her, a small smile that reminded her not of his mother but rather of the little sister that had loved him so. Feyre smiled back at him with all the love in her, before rising to the tips of her toes and softly kissing the edge of his mouth. Her mate buried his head in her shoulder and crushed her to him, his arms steel bands around her waist. But Feyre hardly noticed as she ran soothing fingers through his hair, holding him just as tight.
“I think we should find them a place of honor, don’t you?” Rhys said as he finally pulled away from her embrace, minutes or hours later.
“I know just the place.”
They hung the painting in the sitting room, where it could be bathed in the light of the garden beyond. It was lovely, peaceful spot that so many of their friends – their new family – passed by on their visits to the town house.
And underneath it, they later added a tiny silver placard, with only two words engraved in Rhys’ elegant script.