She couldn't find a pulse.

He couldn't be gone. No, no, no, no.

She remembered the First Aid training they'd learned only a few days ago. One hand over the other. Her heart was pounding in her chest and her head was screaming at her, at him. The cuts in her arms and legs were still bleeding from the battle, but their job was over. The war was being fought elsewhere.

Stars above, why wouldn't he just breathe?

One hand over the other.

"We're winning," she cried, a tear landing on the back of her hand as she started the compressions, the heel of her left hand digging into his chest with every push. Her head began to count automatically as she delivered the compressions. One hundred beats a minute. One, two, three. "We're winning! Do you hear me? You have to wake up!"

"Cress."

The voice was broken and it came from behind her.

"Cress, he–it's too late."

The tears poured from her now, but she continued compressions.

It didn't matter that there was a hole in his head the size of her little fingernail. He shouldn't have been dead. He should have still been there, with her, laughing and joking about how well they'd done. There were dead Lunar soldiers all around them, after all. Just because one of them got one good shot off didn't mean he was dead.

Someone's hands wrapped around her arms and pried her off of him.

"No!" she cried out, trying to wrench from the hold. "No, Captain! Thorne! Wake up!" Her throat was growing raw.

The fingers around her tightened. "Cress, he's gone. You know we can't stay here."

She sobbed, finally freeing herself and falling in front of his limp form again, lying on the ground in a puddle of his own blood.

She didn't care. He couldn't be dead.

He wouldn't leave her like this.

Cress gathered him in her arms and she heard Jacin behind her again. "Cress, I know this is hard, but we don't have time."

She buried her face in his neck and tried to memorize how he smelled. "I didn't even get to tell him tha–that I love him and I d–I didn't get to say that he's… he was… my hero." She bawled into his neck, tears soaking the skin. He was still warm. How could he be dead? He was still so warm….

It was all her fault, too. He jumped in front of the bullet for her. She wasn't worth it. She wasn't worth this.

Her hero, her prince. Dead and gone. All her fault.

Wolf had told them that there would be casualties, that they should not be too hopeful as to not say their proper goodbyes before joining the war. But he wasn't supposed to die.

Cinder would never forgive Cress for letting this happen.


Cress sprang up in the bed, tears soaking her cheeks, a cold sweat drenching her forehead and the back of her neck. She was panting, gripping the sheets.

Someone was next to her, sitting up, wrapping a protective arm around her. "Another nightmare?"

She nodded, mopping up her tears. He leaned over and kissed her temple. "It's okay, Crescent. The war is over, remember? Go back to sleep."

Thorne's silhouette was blurry through the tears, but she wound her arms around his waist and they fell back against the pillows.

He pressed a kiss into her hair. "I'm right here, okay? I love you, Cress."

She buried herself in his neck. His scent was so familiar now. When the war had ended, she'd made sure to commit it to memory.

But something was off about it tonight. There was something underlying it. It smelled like iron.

Like blood.


There was a sharp inhale of breath as her eyes opened to the dark room.

Another night. Another nightmare within a nightmare.

As she always did, she slid one arm to the other side of the bed. But it was still cold, still vacant, untouched after all these years.

Cress was still alone, and Carswell Thorne was still dead.

And still again, she loved him just as much as she had.


Author's Note: I don't have any excuses for this one... I don't love myself. (Also, I don't think Thorne will die in Winter. I don't. I refuse to even think it. This is just the result of me being sort of tired of writing Happily Ever Afters ;_;...)