Chapter no 25: Feyre

A Court of Frost and Starlight

Two days later, I stood in the doorway of Polina’s abandoned studio.

Gone were the boarded-up windows, the drooping cobwebs. Only open space remained, clean and wide.

I was still gaping when Ressina found me, halting on her path down the street, no doubt coming from her own studio. “Happy Solstice, my lady,” she said, smiling brightly.

I didn’t return the smile as I stared and stared at the open door. The space beyond.

Ressina laid a hand on my arm. “Is something wrong?”

My fingers curled at my sides, wrapping around the brass key in my palm. “It’s mine,” I said quietly.

Ressina’s smile began to grow again. “Is it, now?” “They—her family gave it to me.”

It had happened this morning. I’d winnowed to Polina’s family farm, somehow surprising no one when I’d appeared. As if they’d been waiting.

Ressina angled her head. “So why the face?”

“They gave it to me.” I splayed my arms. “I tried to buy it. I offered her family money.” I shook my head, still reeling. I hadn’t even been back to the town house. Hadn’t even told Rhys. I’d woken at dawn, Rhys already off to meet with Az and Cassian at Devlon’s camp, and decided to hell with waiting. Putting life off didn’t make a lick of sense. I knew what I wanted. There was no reason to delay. “They handed me the deed, told me to sign my name to it, and gave me the key.” I rubbed my face. “They refused my money.”

Ressina let out a long whistle. “I’m not surprised.”

“Polina’s sister, though,” I said, my voice shaking as I pocketed the key in my overcoat, “suggested I use the money for something else. That if I wanted to give it away, I should donate it to the Brush and Chisel. Do you know what that is?”

I’d been too stunned to ask, to do anything other than nod and say I would.

Ressina’s ochre eyes softened. “It’s a charity for artists in need of financial help—to provide them and their families with money for food or rent or clothes. So they needn’t go hungry or want for anything while they create.”

I couldn’t stop the tears that blurred my vision. Couldn’t stop myself from remembering those years in that cottage, the hollow ache of hunger. The image of those three little containers of paint that I’d savored.

“I didn’t know it existed,” I managed to whisper. Even with all the committees that I volunteered to help, they had not mentioned it.

I didn’t know that there was a place, a world, where artists might be valued. Taken care of. I’d never dreamed of such a thing.

A warm, slender hand landed on my shoulder, gently squeezing. Ressina asked, “So what are you going to do with it? The studio.” I surveyed the empty space before me. Not empty—waiting.

And from far away, as if it was carried on the cold wind, I heard the Suriel’s voice.

Feyre Archeron, a request. Leave this world a better place than how you found it.

I swallowed down my tears, and brushed a stray strand of my hair back into my braid before I turned to the faerie. “You wouldn’t be looking for a wholly inexperienced business partner, would you?”

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