This part comes right at the end, after Fayruh had defeated the evil queen. One of the characters who really stayed with me was Rhysand, and i feel like he deserved more than what he got. So here it goes ;)
The book goes: "I was pulled from sleep by something tugging at my middle, a thread deep inside…"
I slipped on a loose white shift before padding out to meet Rhysand, following the unravelling thread that connected us.
He was waiting for me on a balcony. Behind him, the sky was a dark hue of blue, the stars fading into the light as dawn slowly crept along the horizon.
Rhys leaned against the metal railing, giving me his usual lazy smile. Through the tattoo on my hand, I felt a sudden flicker of happiness that had to be coming from him. But his face let nothing show, his dark black-blue hair framing his wide violet eyes as he smirked.
"Enjoying your night?"
He gave me a once-over, his gaze travelling across my body, suddenly making me wish that I had pulled something over the thin white slip that barely reached mid-thigh. I fought the urge to tug at the hem. After all, I was a Fae now, and in any case, he had already seen me in clothes that where a lot more revealing.
"I'm betting you didn't call me over to ask me how well my first night with Tamlin is going." I raised an eyebrow.
"You don't look too sore." He pointed out, a smile teasing the corner of his sensuous mouth.
"Well." I turned to lean against the rail, the night sky gently blowing in my face. I inhaled the scents on the breeze: pine-needles, rainwater, flowers that were just beginning to bloom. I had really missed being above ground. "It wasn't what I expected."
"Do you want me to give you a crash course on how male/female interaction works?" He grinned. "I'd be happy to oblige."
"Rhys, stop." I frowned. I opened my mouth to say something, then bit my lip. Rhysand, as always, had called me when I was falling apart. I had been lying awake as Tamlin snored lightly, staring at the ceiling, trying to forget the past three months.
But I couldn't erase the things I'd done. The things I'd done…for Tamlin. While he was sitting there next to the Queen under the mountain, not even deigning to give me a look, I'd been outrunning certain death and being paraded as a harlot at parties. Meanwhile, Rhys had been there again and again, pulling me back from the edge. Saving my life.
How could I voice how I resented Tamlin, when I felt guilty for just thinking those thoughts, when I knew how unfair they were? "I can't… It's not fair, but… I don't know…" I faltered. I ran a hand through my gold-brown hair, the pain welling in my chest.
Rhysand placed his hand over my own, covering my tattooed fingers with his. His touch was warm against my skin. When I looked into his dark eyes, i saw the reflection of my own pain.
"I understand." He said simply. The pain in his eyes grew sharper as he said, "Just give it time. Your golden-haired prince will find a way to make you forgive him." He looked away, as if unable to hold my eyes. "And I have to go back to my Court of Night."
I was surprised by how hollow I felt at the idea of him leaving.
"I'll say goodbye now." He straightened, releasing my hand, but not the connection that still throbbed through us. When he had joined us together with magic, I doubted he realized just how strong that connection would be. "My lovely Fayre… I shall miss you."
Our eyes met, and I was once again swept away by the vibrant color of his eyes. Where Tamlin's eyes were flecked with the golden radiance of the sun, Rhysand's eyes contained the wonder of a thousand starry skies.
I looked away first.
I heard him sigh. There was the sharp tangy smell of magic, and his wings unfolded behind him. Now he looked like an avenging angel, right out of a storybook.
The fact that he was leaving, right now, right here, struck me like a knife in the chest. I knew he could feel it, because he gave me a confused look, as if he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing.
Once, a long time ago, I had waited before telling the man I loved how I felt about him. But I was not that same person. This time, I wasn't going to wait to let him know what he meant to me.
"Rhysand, I owe you my life." I told him, needing to say these words before it was too late. "Without you, I never would have made it through the trials. I never would have even made it to the trials, if you hadn't saved me from those others fairies on Calanmai."
I felt a flicker of amusement cross through our bond.
"All those nights when you took me out, paraded me…" The taste of bile rose in my throat at the memory of those nights where I was too drugged to be aware of anything. "You never touched me. You could have, but you didn't. I know you say it's for Tamlin's sake, but I think that you're a much better person that you let on."
The intensity of the feelings crossing through our bond was overwhelming. Thank you, Rhys said in my mind.
I took a step closer, until I was standing in front of him, sandwiched between him and the railing that was the only thing keeping me from a thirty-foot drop.
"I will always love Tamlin." I told him, the words ringing with the simple truth of it. "He and I are the same." Rhysand's eyes clouded, and before he could turn away, I added, "but you saved my life. Not just my life. You were my only friend during those three months of darkness. You're the only reason I'm standing here right now."
"Fayruh, you're going to make me cry." Rhysand smirked, but the smirk didn't reach his eyes.
This time, after all these months, I was the first one to reach out. I lifted my fingers to his cheek, stroking the soft white skin,tracing the line of his high cheekbones.
That was when I knew. I knew that even though I had already given myself body and soul to Tamlin, there was now a part of me that was, and that would forever be, Rhysand's.
He stood very still as I stood on the tip of my toes, locking my eyes with his. "This is to thank you for everything."
I felt his yearning through the bond, the nervousness too, but I couldn't have said if those feelings were mine or his as I closed my eyes and leaned in. Our lips met, and I sighed against his mouth.
His lips were as soft as they looked, softer still. This was nothing like our first forced kiss. It wasn't like the ferocious passion that burned through me anytime Tamlin and I touched. This was more deeper, softer and fiercer at the same time.
It was…everything. His arms locked around me, and my arms brushed under his wings as I knotted my arms around his muscular torso.
The kiss was sweet and lingering, and sad too. We both knew this was goodbye, and no matter what happened after this, nothing would ever be the same. When I let go, everything would become more complicated. He would go one way, and I would go the other
So I didn't let go.
Rhys grinned against my mouth, and I felt his wings spread out wide. I want to show you something, he said in my mind. Hold on tight.
I heard the whoosh of his powerful wings as they beat against the air, and suddenly, we were rising above the ground. I buried my face against his neck, the wind tickling my face.
After what seemed like an eternity, he landed on the small nook of a cliff, a rocky platform that was barely a few feet wide. We were hundreds of feet in the air.
"Rhys, this is incredible!" I said, marvelling at the view from up here.
That's when I felt it. Something I thought I had lost forever. The urge to paint this, to mix the colours perfectly, to freeze this moment in time.
I already knew how I would paint it. The rosy-fingered dawn spreading across the sky as the stars twinkled and vanished. The bright green hues of the valleys before us, and even further, the dark blue of the ocean shimmering in the distance.
And in one corner, shielded from the rest of the world, two High Fae, huddling together on a tiny rocky protuberance. The boy had dark hair and eyes as enticing as the moon. The girl had golden-brown hair and was leaning her head on his shoulder. They would be forever frozen in the painting, a piercing reminder of what was, and what could have been.