A/N: Hi everybody! This is going to be a multi-chapter fic, provided that I update regularly. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: All characters and places belong to Sarah J. Maas.
"Well, good-bye for now," he said, rolling his neck as if they hadn't been talking about anything important at all. He bowed at the waist, those wings vanishing entirely, and had begun to fade into the nearest shadow when he went rigid.
His eyes locked on hers, wide and wild, and his nostrils flared. Shock - pure shock flashed across his features at whatever he saw on her face, and he stumbled back a step. Actually stumbled.
"What is -" she began.
He disappeared - simply disappeared, not a shadow in sight - into the crisp air.
He had smelled it all over her, all of a sudden, just before he left. He had panicked and faded into the shadows, refusing to believe it.
His senses were wrong. They had to be wrong. But it wasn't the first time in his life that he didn't trust himself.
Mate, something had whispered in his ear. Something had nudged him inside while he stood stock-still, staring at her confused face, his nostrils filled with her scent. He had stumbled back, still staring at her, thoughts wildly running through his mind. No. It couldn't be possible. What about Tamlin?
And so he had fled, taking the only escape from his cowardice. Fight or flight, and he had chosen the latter.
He strode into the hall of the grand Night Court Palace, causing the attention of everyone in mid-celebration to turn to him.
"Lord Rhysand," a slurred voice. "Welcome back. We've been partying for three days in a row. Where have you been?"
"Hell," he replied, and smirked.
He could barely let out a guttural cry as Amarantha tossed him across the room like a rag doll. He couldn't even watch Feyre, but he could hope that she wouldn't break down. But she did, blood gushing down her face, screaming, clawing at herself. He watched as Amarantha glowed in a ghastly light, slowly rising up, spreading her poison through the room and immediately killing everyone in sight with one single word. He had died for nothing; he had died on the sidelines, incapable of doing anything.
Rhysand jolted awake and took a deep breath. Nightmares frequented his dreams - it was nothing new. But this one - this one - was too close to becoming real.
He swung his feet over the side of the bed and stretched, rolling his neck. The crack satisfied him, and he headed to the kitchens for a glass of water.
After taking a long swallow, Rhysand pressed his fingers to his temples and sighed, going back to his bedroom. He unfolded his wings once back inside, taking care to not scrape them against them any sharp object. There were still some fresh tears in the membrane, but the scars from Amarantha's...previous administrations had faded.
He opened a small jar of ointment and applied it to the cuts, savoring in its coolness. Every night since Feyre had arrived Under the Mountain, every night with Amarantha had been torture.
Now she was dead. He was free.
And tomorrow, he would have to go to the Spring Court to collect.
The said Spring Court was a bit too pleasant for his taste. Flowers now covered the ground in a thick blanket - an improvement from the last time he had been there. The grass was green and the sky was blue, and he immediately missed the comforting starry darkness of his own home.
Of course Feyre liked it here. What was he going to tell her, let alone act around her, now that he had discovered that she was his mate? She was with Tamlin. She was happy with Tamlin, and he didn't want to take that happiness away from her.
Every faerie knew that it wasn't a one-sided thing. Although it didn't necessarily have to occur simultaneously, a faerie could detect who his or her mate was. It was a universal power.
He found Feyre outside, taking a walk with her beloved. There was absolutely no darkness here, and he hated it. He couldn't meld into the shadows. There were practically none.
As a result, he was spotted immediately.
The happy couple headed towards him, both walking with a graceful subtlety now that Feyre was high Fae.
Tamlin stopped in front of him. "Rhysand...what are you doing here?"
Rhysand ignored him and turned to the girl. "Your time here is up. A week at the Night Court starts now."
"As long as I know that you're safe, Tam, I'll go," Feyre assured Tamlin. "And you are. Nothing's going to happen to between us, and I made a promise. Alright?"
Rhysand could see Tamlin clenching his jaw, but he nodded. "If you dare to touch her," he growled at him, "I'll flay you alive."
"I can clearly take care of myself," Feyre said. Her eyes softened, and she stood on her tiptoes to kiss Tamlin. "I love you."
"That's enough," Rhysand said. "There's no need for such extravagant displays of affection."
It was his turn to be ignored, so he turned away, deciding to give them their space. There was no way that Feyre was his mate. Even he could see the passion and love behind the kiss, and it made his cold, stone heart clench painfully.
"Alright. I'm ready."
"Rhysand - this is amazing," Feyre whispered, gazing admiringly at the ceiling of his palace.
"I chose the color because it matched the night sky. Fitting," he replied.
"Well, It's beautiful."
She broke her gaze and they walked in silence. She was still taking in her surroundings, observing the faerie servants slipping in and out of the shadows. "What am I going to do here for a week?"
"I've got plans for you," he said, the corners of his lips turning up. "First things first - I'll take you up to your room."
"Well, this is it," he said, gesturing around.
"It's pretty big," Feyre said out loud.
She took her sweet time walking around the room, running her hands over the pieces of furniture.
He cleared his throat. "You'll be present for dinner."
She rolled her eyes. "That was what Tamlin and Lucien basically told me when I was at the Spring Court for the first time."
He raised an eyebrow, and Feyre sighed.
"Obviously, I'll join you, as I have no choice."
Rhysand smelled her before he saw her. That luxurious, heady scent that floated around her whenever he was near was trouble. But he was used to trouble.
She was quite regal - dressed in a sweeping, floor-length twilight-colored gown with her hair down. As much as he didn't want to admit it, she looked - lovely.
Rhysand stood up when he caught sight of her and addressed the servants standing around. "This is Feyre, who will be living with us for a week."
He sat back down.
Feyre walked towards the magnificent table and sat down across Rhysand, accepting a glass of wine that a servant had offered her.
"I hope this isn't the same wine you gave me…" A noticeable blush stained her cheeks.
Rhysand smiled wickedly. "Oh, I missed your dancing."
She looked down at her hands in her lap.
He cleared his throat. "Let's eat."
"I'm full enough now," Feyre said. "I'm going back to my room."
"Not yet," he told her. "I have something to show you."
He led her down the twisting staircase to the enormous library, noticing Feyre's paleness. "I'm teaching you how to read."
"For God's sake -" she muttered.
"One hour, every day. Which is quite lenient, considering how much practice you've ever had in your entire life."
"And I suppose this lesson starts now."
"It does. Sit down."
Feyre managed to gracefully plop down into a nearby chair. "What are you looking for?"
"Some beginner books." He successfully located them and brought them over to her, along with a sheet of paper and a stick of graphite.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Remember that second task you were given?"
"It's not likely to happen again."
"That doesn't mean it's not a useful skill. Do you want to stay illiterate for the rest of your life?"
"Well, no, but why are you teaching me?"
"Rhysand, please. I know you have nothing to gain by doing this."
"Feyre...I'm giving you what you need."
"Do you know what? I don't need it. Especially from you, you condescending rat. Goodbye. I'm going to sleep."
She strode out the door without another word.
She was so ungrateful, but Rhysand wasn't going to pressure her. He stayed in the library for another hour until he wearily headed back to his own room and commenced his daily ritual of healing. The wings, unfortunately, didn't heal automatically like the rest of his body did.
Suddenly, the door swung open, revealing Feyre. Rhysand froze.
"Sorry - sorry," she muttered. "I couldn't sleep. Also, I came to apologize -"
She was about to say more when she caught sight of the wounds on his wings.
"Rhys." Feyre forgot the door and rushed over to him. "Who did this to you?"
He was silent.
"Was it Amarantha?"
"Yes," he said quietly.
Her eyes filled with tears. "I'm so sorry. Are you okay?"
Feyre reached out and gently touched his wing. He let out an audible hiss, and she reeled back.
"Did that hurt?"
She hesitantly connected her fingertips with the ebony-black feathers gathering at the base of his wings, tracing over the faded scars, not noticing his tension. She then reached around, took the jar from him, and started applying the medicine to the cuts.
"Feyre." Her head snapped up, and he briefly searched her eyes. "You don't need to do this."
"Yes, I do. You were hurt. You are hurt. Also, I want to apologize. I was completely ungrateful and stupid. I shouldn't have taken it for granted."
He was silent. "I accept your apology."
She finished applying the medicine and patted his wings. "There, all better." Feyre laughed, bent down and kissed the tip of one wing, suddenly noticing Rhysand's sharp intake of breath.