Chapter no 9

A Court of Mist and Fury

I paced my room for a good while. Maybe I’d been mistaken when I’d spotted those burns—maybe they’d been there before. Maybe I hadn’t somehow summoned heat and branded the wood. Maybe I hadn’t slid into Lucien’s mind as if I were moving from one room to another.

Just as she always did, Alis appeared to help me change for bed. As I sat before the vanity, letting her comb my hair, I cringed at my reflection. The purple beneath my eyes seemed permanent now—my face wan. Even my lips were a bit pale, and I sighed as I closed my eyes.

“You gave your jewels to a water-wraith,” Alis mused, and I found her reflection in the mirror. Her brown skin looked like crushed leather, and her dark eyes gleamed for a moment before she focused on my hair. “They’re a slippery sort.”

“She said they were starving—that they had no food,” I murmured.

Alis gently coaxed out a tangle. “Not one faerie in that line today would have given her the money. Not one would have dared. Too many have gone to a watery grave because of their hunger. Insatiable appetite

—it is their curse. Your jewels won’t last her a week.” I tapped a foot on the floor.

“But,” Alis went on, setting down the brush to braid my hair into a single plait. Her long, spindly fingers scratched against my scalp. “She will never forget it. So long as she lives, no matter what you said, she is in your debt.” Alis finished the braid and patted my shoulder. “Too many faeries have tasted hunger these past fifty years. Don’t think word of this won’t spread.”

I was afraid of that perhaps more than anything.



It was after midnight when I gave up waiting, walked down the dark, silent corridors, and found him in his study, alone for once.

A wooden box wrapped with a fat pink bow sat on the small table between the twin armchairs. “I was just about to come up,” he said, lifting his head to do a quick scan over my body to make sure all was right, all was fine. “You should be asleep.”

I shut the door behind me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep—not with the words we’d shouted ringing in my ears. “So should you,” I said, my voice as tenuous as the peace between us. “You work too hard.” I crossed the room to lean against the armchair, eyeing the present as Tamlin had eyed me.

“Why do you think I had such little interest in being High Lord?” he said, rising from his seat to round the desk. He kissed my brow, the tip of my nose, my mouth. “So much paperwork,” he grumbled onto my lips. I chuckled, but he pressed his mouth to the bare spot between my neck and shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he murmured, and my spine tingled. He kissed my neck again. “I’m sorry.”

I ran a hand down his arm. “Tamlin,” I started.

“I shouldn’t have said those things,” he breathed onto my skin. “To you or Lucien. I didn’t mean any of them.”

“I know,” I said, and his body relaxed against mine. “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”

“You had every right,” he said, though I technically didn’t. “I was wrong.”

What he said had been true—if he made exceptions, then other faeries would demand the same treatment. And what I had done could be construed as undermining. “Maybe I was—”

“No. You were right. I don’t understand what it’s like to be starving— or any of it.”

I pulled back a bit to incline my head toward the present waiting there, more than willing to let this be the last of it. I gave a small, wry smile. “For you?”

He nipped at my ear in answer. “For you. From me.” An apology.

Feeling lighter than I had in days, I tugged the ribbon loose, and examined the pale wood box beneath. It was perhaps two feet high and three feet wide, a solid iron handle anchored in the top—no crest or lettering to indicate what might be within. Certainly not a dress, but …

Please not a crown.

Though surely, a crown or diadem would be in something less … rudimentary.

I unlatched the small brass lock and flipped open the broad lid. It was worse than a crown, actually.

Built into the box were compartments and sleeves and holders, all full of brushes and paints and charcoal and sheets of paper. A traveling painting kit.

Red—the red paint inside the glass vial was so bright, the blue as stunning as the eyes of that faerie woman I’d slaughtered—

“I thought you might want it to take around the grounds with you.

Rather than lug all those bags like you always do.”

The brushes were fresh, gleaming—the bristles soft and clean. Looking at that box, at what was inside, felt like examining a crow-

picked corpse.

I tried to smile. Tried to will some brightness to my eyes. He said, “You don’t like it.”

“No,” I managed to say. “No—it’s wonderful.” And it was. It really was.

“I thought if you started painting again … ” I waited for him to finish. He didn’t.

My face heated.

“And what about you?” I asked quietly. “Will the paperwork help with anything at all?”

I dared meet his eyes. Temper flared in them. But he said, “We’re not talking about me. We’re talking—about you.”

I studied the box and its contents again. “Will I even be allowed to roam where I wish to paint? Or will there be an escort, too?”


A no—and a yes, then.

I began shaking, but for me, for us, I made myself say, “Tamlin— Tamlin, I can’t … I can’t live my life with guards around me day and night. I can’t live with that … suffocation. Just let me help you—let me work with you.”

“You’ve given enough, Feyre.”

“I know. But … ” I faced him. Met his stare—the full power of the High Lord of the Spring Court. “I’m harder to kill now. I’m faster, stronger—”

“My family was faster and stronger than you. And they were murdered quite easily.”

Then marry someone who can put up with this.”

He blinked. Slowly. Then he said with terrible softness, “Do you not want to marry me, then?”

I tried not to look at the ring on my finger, at that emerald. “Of course I do. Of course I do.” My voice broke. “But you … Tamlin … ” The walls pushed in on me. The quiet, the guards, the stares. What I’d seen at the Tithe today. “I’m drowning,” I managed to say. “I am drowning. And the more you do this, the more guards … You might as well be shoving my head under the water.”

Nothing in those eyes, that face. But then—

I cried out, instinct taking over as his power blasted through the room. The windows shattered.

The furniture splintered.

And that box of paints and brushes and paper … It exploded into dust and glass and wood.

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