Prompt 204 – Chattel - Cared For -Wicked Lovely – Sarbear12456
Title: Cared For
Fandom: Wicked Lovely
Warnings: Angsty look into Irial's mind after the events of Ink Exchange and Radiant Shadows. Spoilers for Ink Exchange and Radiant Shadows. Character death (canon)
Summary: Irial contemplates how he acts to those he cares about, the nature of the Dark court and his very long life.
Disclaimer: Not mine never was.
Before anyone else, before Leslie or Ani, the first person I really cared about was Niall. We were the same. We were Gancanagh, fey who addicted mortals to their touch. Niall was innocent as to who I was and the power I drew from our dizzying feasts of immorality. Though, as a faerie, my reign over the Dark court was the only thing Niall was innocent of.
I was beyond surprised that Niall would not cross that line, the line that was so paper thin that for many faeries it didn't exist. The line that shouldn't exist for Niall because of his dark nature: he should want to join the Dark Court, he should want to be king. Lust was as much a sin as wrath and all faeries sought power. Niall's refusal to succeed me as Dark King was also an injury to my pride and it cut me to the core. Then, daily, salt and poison leeched into the wound as Niall swore allegiance to the Summer King and became Sorcha's heir. So I struck back and gave Niall physical wounds of his own. Only after the damage had been wrought did the consequences, the irrationality, of this course of action settle on me. I had driven Niall away.
For so long Niall had been at my side, a de facto member of my court. When he was gone I no longer found pleasure in the beauty of violence or the sorrow of mortals. The very things that empowered the Dark Court made me sick. For the first time in centuries I cared enough to dislike the qualities I represented.
Mortals were toys. Playthings. They meant nothing and their lives were over before they lived at all. The mortals involved with the Dark Court were the broken toys in an abandoned playground as the world picked up shiny new baubles and left the old ones behind. People involved with the Dark Court had the shortest life spans of all. Often they were so steeped in wrath and lust and drugs they burned out short of half a century. Those who didn't burn out had the warmth drawn out of them. Ink exchanges were short and humans could only convey so much emotion before their body and mind couldn't take it anymore and they shut down.
I spied my own broken little toy outside Pins and Needles. The tattoo shop was run by the half-Hound Rabbit and housed him and his two sisters. Leslie caught my interest as few had, she was the perfect blend of beauty, pain, strength and desperation. With the parting words "dream of me", words she couldn't hear, I left with the hope that she would entertain my court, or me, one day. She would be perfect for an Ink Exchange, she could be bound to me and serve my court.
At the very least I couldn't let her go to waste.
Once the Ink Exchange was completed I was different, I wasn't truly Dark Court anymore. I once again cared for someone, and this time I wanted nothing more than to protect her from the beautifully dangerous world I had dragged her into.
Rabbit, Tish and Ani lived on the fringes of the Dark Court. Gabriel, a Hound, was their father. Their mother was mortal. These Halflings, like so many others, I hid from Sorcha. They were born of the Dark Court and Sorcha's structured, ordered, reasonable High Court was no match for them. It would cage them and stop them spreading their wings.
Rabbit was grown before the turmoil of the courts erupted. He needed no protection as he grew up. Tish-and-Ani, always together, grew up in a time when the other courts, and members of my own court, would have snatched any opportunity to get to me. These Halflings I cared about. Not in the same way I cared for Niall or Leslie, but I cared for the nonetheless.
Another problem arose from their genetics. Rabbit was Hound enough to stay ahead of trouble, but not Hound enough to seek it.
I worried about Ani, she was rapidly becoming more fey and more involved with the Dark Court. I didn't know whether she was strong enough to face the challenges that arose there, the challenges I would put her to. I didn't need to bother.
I should have worried about Tish. Tish would never need to be involved with the Dark Court. Tish was 'Hound-lite': above average senses, she could run fast and that was it. Tish couldn't run fast enough and Bananach, the true embodiment of war and disorder, was there to chase her.
This left me with another emotional wound. The ensuing battle also left me with a physical one. Literal poison burned through my veins. Faced with the very real possibility of death, something novel to me at age one thousand three hundred and sixty five, I looked and saw the damage I had done.
As Dark King, I had done many unspeakable things, but the darkest things I had done were to those I cared for. Niall I had alienated, Leslie I had stripped of her choices, Tish I had failed. When I was with them they were nothing, property, chattel.
When they were gone, they were a whole lot more.