Certain as the Sun: VII
Here is the next part to Certain as the Sun. ***WARNING: EXTREME EXPLICIT CONTENT*** I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as it killed my heart to write it. (That’s all the spoilers I’ll give. Please prepare yourselves). Sorry it’s also super long.
I could think up about a million different possibilities as for why the hell Tamlin had sent for me to be brought to the Spring Court and none of them involved him letting Feyre go so that she could return home with me.
When I had first received the note from none other than the High Lord of the Spring Court himself, Amren had advised me to ignore it.
“It’s a trap,” she’d said, eyes blaring. “What good reason would he have to send for you?” When I’d addressed the rest of the Inner Circle as well, they’d had similar thoughts. There was one thing we all agreed upon, and that was that Tamlin had not invited me to his home for a nice brunch and some polite conversation.
When I’d tried to reach out to Feyre again I had been met with that dark, infinite void. She had not contacted him at all since she’d returned once again to the Spring Court. And although I was certain she must possess some perfectly good explanation unbeknownst to myself, it still struck some sort of chord that she had severed herself from me so thoroughly.
Nevertheless, I had agreed to meet with Tamlin. Morrigan and Amren were both waiting just on the outskirts of the Spring Court should I need their assistance. I’d ordered Azriel to take to the skies and keep watch from there, Cassian flanking my side. Normally, their roles were reversed, but in great thanks to that bastard King of Hybern, we still had not found any cure for Cassian’s ruined wings.
He had not yet come to terms with it, and over these past months, I could tell that there was something that was a bit off about my fellow Illyrian warrior. I could not begin to imagine the pain that came with being without your wings—for Illyrians we’d sooner lose our lives than the one thing that kept us from being fully tethered to the ground. Every day that Cassian chose to continue was another that my respect for him grew.
Even if that did mean getting rip-roaring drunk with him more than usual.
“Well, Tamlin’s certainly got a flair for the extravagant,” Cassian mused upon coming face to face with a ridiculously gaudy table sat decoratively in a corner. It seemed to have no use whatsoever besides showcasing Tamlin’s less than desirable personality traits.
No sooner did the words come from Cassian’s lips did a servant come to take us to wherever Tamlin was hiding out. He was a small, young Fae. Exceedingly pointed ears were a light shade of green at the tips, his eyes wide at the sight of the two warriors before him.
The boy swallowed before speaking. “Master Tamlin has ordered me to fetch you,” he said, fighting to stop his voice from quivering so much. “Please follow me.”
He promptly spun on his heels and walked out of the room, not bothering to ensure we were following him.
As we were led through the utter maze that was the Spring Court dwelling, I was shocked at how many memories were associated with this place that had once been like a home but was now nothing more than a living hell.
Finally, the boy led us to a set of dusty rose-colored double doors. His timid fingers lightly rapped on the door, followed by a, “Come in.”
As one we all filed inside. The room was big and spacious, a single table set with four chairs instead of just three did not escape my notice. This particular room had been peculiarly made with mirrors on three of the four walls, as well as the ceiling, giving it the illusion that you were standing in a pool of Starlight due to the sun that refracted off of them.
And standing at the lone window in the room was none other than the High Bastard himself.
Tamlin turned upon hearing our arrival, a welcoming smile adorning his lips. “Rhysand. Cassian,” he greeted. As he made his way over to us, I noted that his choice in clothing was just as flamboyant as his furniture. He wore a finely tailored red tunic with bright silver trimmings, grey pants, and black boots. His hair graced past his shoulders, and sitting atop his head was the infamous Spring Court crown. It looked decidedly uncomfortable.
“I trust you made it here without any trouble,” he continued.
“Your trust is accurately placed,” Cassian said with more than a hint of malice.
Tamlin just nodded, keeping that pleasant smile on his face. “Well, please sit. We’ve much to discuss.”
Neither Cassian nor I moved.
“I don’t have time for whatever mind tricks you’re trying to pull, Tamlin. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that that is one area—of many— that my performance supersedes yours,” I replied coolly.
That smile drooped ever slightly.
“I don’t see your Lady floating about,” I remarked. “Keeping her locked away for fear I may meddle with her mind again, are we?”
“Funny you should mention her, actually,” Tamlin’s eyes glittered with something that had my senses on high alert. “Feyre,” he called, “would you please join us?”
A moment later I heard the doors that we’d entered just a few moments ago open and then shut once more. I forced myself to breathe, not to react, to calm myself as Feyre came into view.
She was wearing a dress similar in fashion to what Tamlin was wearing, a pretty diadem sat upon her head. Feyre did not glance our way as she rushed to Tamlin, her lips meeting his as soon as he was within arm’s length.
Tamlin scooped her into his arms, Feyre leaning into his touch as his hand moved further south than should be permitted in front of an audience.
Cassian was taut as a bow, his hands clenching and unclenching were they were hidden behind his back. It took all my strength not to turn Tamlin’s mind to putty then and there, and I could tell similar thoughts were indeed running through Cassian’s mind as well as we were forced to watch helplessly as our High Lady shoved her tongue down another man’s throat.
“How are you today, my love?” He asked. She smiled broadly, one she had only ever graced me with when she was incandescently happy.
“I’m well, thank you,” she replied, beaming at him. “I got some more paintings done today.”
She nodded, biting down on her lower lip, eyes sparkling. “I was feeling oddly inspired this morning…perhaps due to—”
“Either we get on with whatever business, or the two of you get a room and we leave,” Cassian interrupted. As much as I wished I could say that I would have been able to stand there for a few moments more and let them go about their business, it was killing me to see her this way.
When Feyre had visited, she’d told me she had to do things to keep up appearances. Things that she was not proud of. She hadn’t specified at the time, but there was no need. I knew exactly the kind of things she probably had to do to keep up the facade that she was hopelessly in love with Tamlin.
And yet, the wrath deafening my ears came as a surprise.
Indeed, it was one thing to be told, and another entirely to experience.
“Feyre, you remember Rhysand, I’m sure. And the other is Cassian. His…advisor.”
I couldn’t help the low chuckle that came as a result of his words. “You think you will anger me by disrespecting not only my title but a member of my court as well. It will take much more than a few insults, princeling, for me to reveal my true self.” His brows rose. “And I assure you, your claws would not like to become acquainted with my talons.”
He was quiet for a moment, eyes calculating.
Finally, he spoke. “You know what? You’re right. So very right, Rhysand. How foolish of me to think I could rile you with belittling you insignificant and, frankly, foolish court of savages anyway?” My teeth set. “It would take something much more…personal, I think.”
It took less than a heartbeat for Cassian to have his swords drawn, me reaching out to strangle Tamlin’s mind as the room was flooded with ten guards. They all immediately came at us, and I was more than prepared to fight our way out of this cursed kingdom with Tamlin tisked.
“Spill a drop of their blood, and your beloved mate loses her head.” It took me a moment to realize what he was saying, an infinitely longer moment for it to process. For when I looked at where Feyre had once been standing like another pretty piece of Tamlin’s furniture, she was now being held by three guards.
I forced my face into a mask of calm. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you crazy bastard.”
His brows rose in mock surprise. “Oh really? You’ve no clue that Feyre is, indeed, your mate? That she’s been pretending this entire time to love me when really, she had staged everything just to infiltrate the Spring Court. A spy within my own walls, hiding in plain sight.” He paused, as if waiting for me to answer some unspoken question.
“Well then, if you have no feelings whatsoever for our lovely Feyre, here. I suppose you’ll have no problem watching this.” I watched as he snapped his fingers and a table decorated with over a dozen lethal weapons, a whip, and strangely, a bed appeared.
“As you know, the punishment for such treason is death.” He stalked towards Feyre, whose eyes had gone devoid of all emotion. As if she’d shut herself out of her own body. With one finger, he lifted her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. “I’m sorry for this, Feyre. I really am.” A regretful shake of the head and then, “Get on with it, boys.”
Immediately, Tamlin’s guards began to strip Feyre, yanking at her dress, tearing at the pins and beads in her hair until she was entirely naked before us. Once finished, Tamlin handed a long, black whip to the nearest guard. Something winked at the end of the whip—glass, I realized with unabashed horror.
“You’re going to whip her to death?” I asked, somehow still managing to keep my voice utterly bored.
Tamlin shrugged. “We’ll see how well she holds out.” He nodded at the guard, and I was sure my heart cleaved itself in two as Feyre took in a deep, shuddering breath, preparing herself for the pain that was sure to come.
The guard’s arm reared back, time seeming to slow as his arm came down.
The resounding crack of leather on skin was one that would haunt me for many centuries to come.
Feyre only released a strangled cry, biting the inside of her cheek to keep from calling out. And that was how it went as the guard whipped her again, and again, and again. I lost count sometime after fifty.
I knew that Feyre’s back had stopped healing itself when she finally released a cry so full of agony, it was all I could do to stop from ripping that whip from the guard’s hands and using it myself.
Tamlin allowed the guard to bring down that leather ten more times before he finally said, “Enough. Get her up.”
They heaved her up, Tamlin slowly circling around her like a lion before its prey. When he was once again facing her he murmured, “Get on the bed.”
Feyre looked at him, her eyes burning like liquid amber. But she did not respond, and she did not move. Only stared at him with a look that promised death in the future.
“Get on the bed, Feyre, or I will instruct my guards to seize your mate’s cousin and bring her back here.”
“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“Pretty little thing isn’t she? Bright red lips, beautiful honeyed hair. The only family Rhysand has left if I recall correctly. It’d be a shame for dear Rhys to be the only left of his name, wouldn’t it?”
And then Feyre looked beyond Tamlin, her eyes locking with mine. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” they seemed to say.
“I’m going to kill you.” My voice was quiet, but it was filled with a vow I had every intention to keep.
Tamlin didn’t turn to me as he said. “I don’t believe you’ll have the chance.” He inclined his head toward the waiting bed. “Off you go, Feyre.”
She hesitated for a moment, gaze still locked with mine before she obeyed.
“Now, Rhys, since she is your mate I figured I’d offer. Would you like to have a go? Feyre has…well, not really two choices but two possibilities,” he finally turned to meet my gaze. “Either you join her in that bed and fuck her…or I will, gladly, as you watch. You’ve thirty seconds to decide.”
“Rhys.” I looked over at Feyre to see her shaking her head, her eyes swimming not with tears, but with a sort of determination that only came with acceptance. “Don’t do it. Do not agree to this.”
“I’ll be fine,” she promised.
“Feyre—” Cassian tried.
“I will. Be. Fine,” she said, sternly this time.
And I wanted to believe her, I really did.
I wanted to believe that this wouldn’t be the thing that broke her, being raped by the man who had once claimed to love her. I knew he wouldn’t be gentle with her, even after being whipped. The man who had once been thought to be her savior, lover, friend.
But Tamlin was none of those things.
And I couldn’t, not for the life of me, believe that she would still be Feyre after this.
“Alright,” Tamlin sighed, “I guess I’m—”
“I’ll do it.”
“Now, now, Feyre. Let him finish.”
Cassian turned to me, anguish in his eyes. “Rhysand, you don’t—”
“I’ll do it,” I repeated, ignoring him. “I’ll sleep with her.”
“Well then,” Tamlin grinned, “I don’t believe you need me to instruct you on how to go about your business.” He gestured towards Feyre, towards the bed, my damnation.
I watched in horror as Feyre fought back tears at my approach, and all I could pray for was that she’d one day forgive me for this, for this sin I was about to commit.
She slid to the side as I rid myself of my clothing, by back to Tamlin’s gathered audience. Her eyes never left mine as I finally joined her on that bed.
“It’s alright,” I whispered my lips at her ear. “It’s just me. It’s just me.”
She couldn’t respond, she was shaking so hard. I’d never seen her shaking so violently. Feyre lifted my chin with her finger, her head shaking.
“Don’t stop looking at me,” she begged. “Don’t leave me. Please.”
“I won’t,” I promised. “I won’t.”
Slowly, Tamlin be damned, I made sure to honor her body, despite all of the new scars, worshipping all of her newly inflicted wounds. I wanted Feyre to know it was me, that despite this terrible act we were being forced into, it did not mean that I loved her any less.
When I finally connected our bodies, she let out a slight gasp, her eyes, now swimming with tears, still never leaving mine as I moved, my body cocooning hers, careful of her wounds.
“I’m here,” I whispered down the bond, “I’m here. I won’t leave you. I love you.”
But all I was met with was an infinite void.