A Promise (A Maeve Fic) - ACOMAF and TOG Crossover
Okay, so this was a really interesting idea that I found on @greenfire2908art‘s blog. It gave me like a million ideas, so I decided to put as many as I could in here. Enjoy everyone!
The throne room was dark. Shadowed, black walls curved sharply away from the ebon-stained tiles of the floor, tilting up and up and up to meet in a dome a hundred feet above. This should’ve opened up the room, dispelling any claustrophobic thoughts, but instead it made it seem as if there was no space at all, as if the walls were closing in and the floor collapsing. The lack of proper furniture and ornamentation only accentuated the crushing emptiness of the great hall, and any unfortunate visitor would feel like a deer in an open field. The current subject of this strange torture was sweating and wringing his hands nervously, his words stuttering and uneven.
Queen Maeve sat stiff-backed in her throne. She did not remember any other way to sit. Her bones were made of iron, same as her heart, and her backbone did not bend. The man continued his mumbling, and Maeve stared at him unblinkingly. His lips moved, but she could not hear.
Blood-red hands, plunging deep into a human chest.
“Me wife,” the farmer said. “She’s caught the flu and I’ve not a coin-”
A shrill wine, slowly, slowly building into a scream. Then many.
“Soon the kids’ll get it, too-”
“How many?” she said, not really wanting to know the answer even as she asked.
He swallowed, dark hair shifting as his throat bobbed. “Four-thousand.”
“So, you see, m'lady-Queen, that is-”
Her hands were wrapped around his neck, nails painted crimson looking like bloody claws as they gripped tighter.
“-to ask for help-”
Tighter, tighter. The fingers went white as they squeezed the life from her King. A wraith-like face laughed, taunting, skin pale and colorless but for her hair. The hair that seemed to grow brighter with every pool of blood spilled.
“O’ course, you don’t have t’-”
As those fingers went taut, a crack chased all other sound away, buried it in cotton. The silence made the noise that much louder.
“My son, Queen. He-”
“That’s quite enough.” Maeve’s voice was calm, amenable even. It was a horrible contrast to the shrieking hum beneath her skin. She made a gesture to her guards, a single sweep of her left hand that had three full-blooded Fae males setting down spears in favor of sword or axe.
As they neared, the farmer seemed to come back to himself, glancing back at the approaching Fae. “What’s this?” he asked.
One of the males roughly pulled his hands behind his back. That was when the old farmer began thrashing.
“What is this?” he asked again, panic edging his voice. “Put me down!”
Maeve watched without speaking.
The second guard pushed the man to his knees, pressing against his shoulders to keep him from squirming away.
And the third, he snapped gloves onto his hands, to lessen the mess that came afterwards. He tested the edge of his blade on his thumb, found it satisfactory. The farmer screamed, twisting and turning, but the arms that held him were like iron bands. The third Fae hefted the sword and leaned back to give himself room.
“I’m innocent!” the farmer shouted. “I’m innocent!”
Maeve leaned forward then, a cruel light behind her eyes. “No one is,” she crooned.
A rush of air, a geyser of blood, and the third male had eyes like granite as he wiped the farmer’s life from his blade and walked back to his place. The two Fae who’d been holding down the man did not speak as they took up their posts by the door, leaving a crumpled, headless body behind.
Mild irritation could be seen in the feathering of Maeve’s jaw. If she could have, she’d be drumming her fingers along the deep blue manchette of her armrest. One of the typical meetings again, complete with tittering court ninnies and pompous fools. Hundreds of kingdoms she’d conquered, and not one managed a decent court without its share of idiots. She’d gotten used to it, and usually the ordered murder of the courtier of her pick was enough to shut them up. But her guards were not currently present, out on a scouting mission in search of Aelin Galathynius.
A thrill ran through her blood at just the thought of the Queen’s name. She’d escaped the iron prison, somehow. One day, Maeve had pried opened the door and found it empty, naught a trace left but for a swirling series of marks, sketched out in blood. There had been no sign of the Queen since, but rumors spread quick, and Maeve heard the whispers of an army rising in the North.
A donkey’s laugh burst from one of the courtiers, bursting her bubble of calm. He was surprisingly ugly for a Fae, with a sloping brow and protruding nose, and his guffaw did nothing to help his predicament. Maeve’s eyes tightened, and she put just a bit more effort into ignoring them.
As her violet gaze drifted around the room, her thoughts burrowed deep into lost history. To a very different kind of promise.
“You will not die. Not now or ever. Not until the world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars.”
Those were the words that the gods had cursed at her, centuries ago, after the death of…everything.
Maeve flicked her eyes to the one who’d spoken her title.
Strangely, he did not balk. She’d have to break him in soon. “Your Majesty,” he said, green eyes bright and black hair waving, “Aelin Galathynius has been sighted.”
No one knew Maeve’s secret, the one of the Queen Who Was Promised. Promised not just to Elena and her gods, but also to her. She did not fight for Erawan, not for pleasure, not for power or some darker purpose. No, she sought freedom. One that none could give her but Aelin Galathynius.
It was with cold anticipation squirming in her gut that Maeve watched, from the safety of a long-boat, her armada crawl forward to meet the approaching one. It was anxious suspense that gnawed at her stomach as she saw just how many men had been gathered under the same banner to kill. And it that was definitely fear that thrilled through her when she realized it was her they wanted to kill.
Another emotion bubbled to the surface, one that had been pushed down for a thousand years to keep her sane. It was excitement, joy, that turned into a burning relief. So long, and finally her dream approached. Her salvation came in the form of pikes and spears and longbows, warships slicing through the water. It came in the form of a golden-haired queen with eyes a blazing blue that would’ve been better replaced by the line of molten gold rimming the irises.
Terror coursed through her like never before. Of course, it did not show on her face, wouldn’t even if she’d wished it to. Maeve let a cruel smile split her face in half, throwing a hand in front of her. Her ship lurched forward, careening towards the opposite bank. Rows of archers stood along each and every of the ships’ railings, the ones at the head of the armada like tiny dots in the back of her vision.
“Fire,” she whispered, and it was black flames that licked at her fingers as the first volley of arrows clotted the grey sky. Shields emblazoned with a rising sun rose up to defend from the wicked-edged points, but still, faint shrieks could be heard from the lines of enemy men.
A trickle of shadow she sent, a calling, a beckoning. Immediately she was answered. A balmy wind slammed into their ranks, cutting and eddying through the sea breeze. Maeve looked up, and she met eyes of blue and gold, even from over a quarter mile away. Her raging emotions halted when she saw the prince of snow next to her. He stood taller and stronger than he ever had at her side, and through the severed bond, she could feel where his endless sorrow had been replaced by a strange king of fullness.
The hollow cave that had once housed her human heart was suddenly prominent. Once, she had been them. Happy and complete, with a wisdom that could only be gained through the acceptance of another into your life. Hatred raked its oily claws down her insides. Together, the Queen and her mate, a reminder of what had been lost, why she still wanted to kill them.
“I won’t let you.”
Maeve growled and whirled around, the shadows leaking from her in waves. Her eyes widened when she saw who the voice belonged to. A woman, with long, golden-brown hair flowing down her back and eyes like pale-blue ice. Her form was bright and shimmering, and the power that spilled from her was enough to rival that of Aelin.
“Long time no see, Mora,” Maeve snarled. “How’s the afterlife suiting you?”
Mora’s eyes tightened. “I won’t let you kill her,” she said.
“I know. That’s why you’ll have to go first.”
Quick as lightning, a needle-sharp thread of shadow shot out. Mora didn’t move as the shadow darted for her chest, merely twitched her lip. The shadow was swallowed by a cloud of ice.
Maeve bared her teeth. “Why are you here?”
Mora met her gaze evenly. “The gods have come to collect their Promise. I won’t let you kill her.”
No, and I wouldn’t even if you hadn’t threatened me.
“Of course,” Maeve said coolly. “But why are you here?”
“Because I asked her to be.”
The breath caught in her throat as she turned slowly to meet the hazel-brown eyes that she had not seen since her Mate’s death. “You,” she said, because she had no idea if she should speak in a familiar or formal manner, and the awe did not leak into her voice, even though it was there, thick and stifling.
Vaguely, she could hear the battle cries of her men, but she knew she was safe here, in the thick of her armada, for at least a few more minutes.
“Me,” Mab said, and a sad smile lined her eyes.
Salty tears spilled down her face, running through the blood that splattered her cheeks. She caressed the leathery membrane of the wing, brought it close to her chest. He was gone.
“Leave,” Maeve said bluntly, any good feeling lost as she realized a war raged around her. There was no time for distractions.
Mab flinched and took a step after Maeve’s retreating form. “I came to tell you something.”
“I came to say something He would’ve wanted you to remember.”
“Elain,” Mora ground out, and Maeve closed her eyes at that name.
Mab ignored it, continuing, “He said he’d always love you. He would still love you, you know. Even with…with how you’ve turned out. And I-”
“-I still love you. Nesta still loves you, even though she won’t admit it-”
Maeve turned just in time to see Mora strike Mab with an open palm. “Elain,” she said, and cold fire danced in her eyes. “I told you to stop. I told you-” Her eyes turned to Maeve, seething with hatred. “I do not love you, Maeve. I loved Feyre, and she’s been gone a long, long time.”
Gone, ever since her Mate’s death. When she’d felt that other line of the bond die, go taut and then snap, she’d erupted.
“He’s not breathing,” Mor whispered. “Shit. Azriel.” Her quiet sobs were muffled by the shadowsinger’s shirt, and he too let the tears fall.
They’d all been in a room together, and then he’d barged in, violet eyes wild.
“She’s here,” he breathed. “She’s here.” And when they all glanced at the doorway he’d come through, a shudder of fear passed through each of them. A woman with a plain face and blood-red hair, smirking.
“Hello, Rhysand,” she purred.
The attack came too quick to follow, and they were all frozen with shock anyway. When manicured nails had torn through his flesh, she had lunged. It was with half a thought that she killed Amerantha and rushed to her Mate’s side, the tears already stinging the back of her vision.
“Fuck,” Cassian swore, voice cracking. “Can’t someone do something?”
Slowly, they shook their heads.
Gone, gone, gone.
A scream was ripped from her throat, and the damper on her glamour fell. Wings extended, talons cut through flesh, and solid black filmed her eyes. She’d kill them. Kill them all. She’d burn the world.
And then she had.
Cassian. Mor. Azriel. Amren. All of them gone. Velaris, too. And so the gods had brought her before them, and they’d determined her fate. A curse, to live forever, until her Promise was born.
Hearing her name again brought immeasurable pain. She had learned to hide it behind a mask of porcelain skin and violet eyes, a wrath greater than that of her lover’s killer. And with each word against her, the steel of that mask thickened. “Leave,” the Queen of the Fae said, ice coating her words. “Before I lose my temper.”
In truth, she already had.
“Feyre,” Mab breathed. “You are good. You are kind. I see beneath your mask.”
The crackling of magic as the armada at last came upon the shore, and armored bodies heaved themselves into the shallow water. Maeve thought it cruel that fate decided to gift her sister with those same words as she had once told her Mate. It felt like a slap to the face. So it was with venom that she said,“We all start out good.” A cruel smirk. “But it doesn’t last long.”
The ship exploded into black mist.
Maeve let the madness show on her face as she crept up behind the Queen of Terrasen. There was none of the fear Maeve felt on her face, none mirrored in Aelin’s face.
“I’ve come to kill you,” Maeve announced, and the swirls of shadows thickened around her.
“Funny,” Aelin murmured. “I was about to say the same thing.”
And then she struck. Maeve dodged, quick as thunder, and Aelin whipped back into a battle stance. They fought long and hard, viciously trading blows. Their magic whipped out in time to the strikes of steel, up and over. Rowan did not make any move to help, she noticed, though his fists were clenched tight and his legs were tense, as if he was ready to jump in at his Queen’s first command. He glared at her with all the menace of four-hundred years of servitude.
Distracted for a moment, Maeve did not see the knife coming until the last second, and for the first time in a millennium, Maeve’s blood spilled. It flowed free and unabashed into the hard earth, hissing and popping like hot oil. The pain was nothing, a child’s hurt, but it still left her gasping. She hadn’t felt the ill of a wound in so long, that she found herself fascinated by the glossy beads dripping from the tear in her flesh, so like that deep scarlet hair.
Aelin had paused momentarily, watching curiously. She was still tense, on edge, but something had shifted in her. The hostility had lessened more to…wariness.
“Fireheart,” Rowan muttered, voice dripping with warning. “No.”
“But what if-” Aelin began, but then Maeve shook her head and was up again. The battle began anew, and she felt her strength flagging. Her well of magic was bone-dry, while Aelin continued to spew flames from her outstretched hand. She knew what was coming before it did. There was only a moment to quell that instinctual fear and replace it with the excitement, the possibility of-
The sword that plunged through her chest was burning-hot, and it rekindled something in that empty cavity where her heart should’ve been.
“I love you, Feyre.”
Aelin jerked the blade free, leaving Maeve gasping on her knees.
“I’ll love you, forever and always.”
She fell to the ground as her strength failed to her, chest still heaving. Two words burst from her lips in an unintelligible gasp. Blood leaked through her fingers. Despite her lover’s protests, Aelin moved forward to crouch beside Maeve. Her eyes were cold, and no pity shown in them, but-
Aelin leaned in, the smell of crackling embers punching through the sweat and tears. “Say it again,” Aelin commanded.
Maeve breathed, “I’m sorry.”
The Queen of Terrasen studied her for a long moment, gaze assessing, then gave a sharp nod. That was all, nothing more before standing up and turning away to face her own fate. There was nothing more to do, she supposed wryly, and a bit of her old spirit returned, the one that lay slumbering beneath the mask. At least she’d die with dignity, her name whispered for years after the crows had pecked her bones clean.
She missed her Mate. She could admit it with the knowledge she’d be gone in a few minutes. Cassian would’ve laughed himself hoarse if he knew she had gone celibate for so long. But the passion she’d once felt had died with a pair of violet eyes that her shapeshifting magic could never replicate.
As the blood gushed from her torso, the fear subsided, and finally, finally the overwhelming relief took over.
Maeve, Feyre Cursebreaker and High Lady of the Night Court, lay back, closed her eyes to the darkness, and felt the completion of a promise that had been prolonged for a thousand years.