Sometimes, she finds herself tracing the marks on her arm, fingers swirling over the pattern, in and out, in and out.
You did not have to mark me, she thinks, you did not have to claim me as yours.
I am not yours, she adds, too late.
He is not listening anyway.
“What are you thinking about?” Tamlin asks her, following the path of her eyes.
She is studying the corner of the room, the way that the walls cast shadows, eyeing them as if she can feel his eyes on her.
She turns towards him, smiles, presses a kiss to his cheek.
“Nothing,” she says. “I’m not thinking about anything.”
When she was little, she had been afraid of the dark, always begging her father for candles at night, anything to chase away the night. She did not like the way that it enveloped, all consuming and expansive, as if it were never going to let her go.
She has always liked bright things, the feel of the sun on her skin, the rush of a summer’s breeze, the shine of Tamlin’s hair.
This is what you wanted, she tells herself as Tamlin presses kisses along her jawline, what you always wanted.
She doesn’t know why she has to tell herself at all.
“Feyre,” he whispers, grins at her like a Chesire cat.
“It’s not time yet,” she says. It sounds like a denial even to her own ears. “I have more time.”
He strokes the edge of her cheek and she shivers before she can stop herself. She doesn’t like the way that his eyes light at the movement.
“It’s not long now,” he whispers.
She wakes with a gasp. Tamlin’s arms, where they circle her waist, feel wrong.
“You don’t have to go,” Tamlin whispers against her ear, quiet, harsh, with a desperation that causes Feyre’s heart to ache.
“Yeah, I do,” she says, pulls herself away from him.
Rhysand offers her his hand and she takes it, ignores how it feels like a betrayal.
You promised, she tells herself, he gave you your life back and you promised.
“Welcome to my home,” he says, gestures behind him, but all she can see is darkness.
He takes her hand in the darkened hallway. She doesn’t draw away, just grips it tighter, feels his calluses meshing with her own.
She tells herself it’s because she can’t see, because she needs him.
But she’s never been a good liar.
“Why’d you bring me here?” she asks him, days later.
It’s quiet for a long moment. The darkness feels like a living thing around them. She can catalog the distance between them, feel every morsel of air connecting them.
“I’m lonely,” he says, after an infinity. “I’m so fucking lonely.”
He comes to her, doesn’t speak, just presses his lips to hers. She means to push him away, but instead finds herself kissing him back, opening her mouth, threading her hands through his hair. He tastes sweet, like some fruit she can’t quite remember.
“You’re not going to leave me, are you?” he murmurs into her skin.
She doesn’t reply, just holds him tighter.
She wakes up to blackness. It makes no difference if her eyes are closed or not.
She presses her hand against her lips, wonders if she can taste him on them.
It’s hard to tell what’s real here.
She thinks she could go crazy like this.
And then it’s over and he’s leading her out into the fading twilight of Tamlin’s court. Her skin looks paler in the dim light and the sun burns her eyes. It had felt longer than week, like an eternity.
She turns toward him and is again astounded by his beauty, the perfect sweep of hair, the unyielding lines of his face. It seems unfair that he belongs to the Night Court, where it must always be shrouded in darkness.
“Until next month,” he says, inclining his head.
“Until next month,” she repeats, and she doesn’t know whether it’s with dread or excitement.
Tamlin doesn’t ask her anything when she returns, for which she is eternally grateful, but there is a distance between them that wasn’t there before.
“I’m here,” she tries to say, “I’m right here.”
But part of her is still locked in the darkness of the Night Court and she doesn’t know how to get her back.
Pomegranate, she remembers. He had tasted like pomegranates.
You’ve betrayed him, Lucien’s eyes seem to read every morning at breakfast or perhaps it is just her own guilt staring back at her.
I’m trying, Feyre wants to say.
I didn’t mean to, Feyre wants to say.
This was all so much harder than I thought I was going to be, Feyre wants to say.
But all of the excuses sound weak and meaningless, even to herself so she just presses herself into Tamlin and tries to pretend that nothing is wrong.
He comes for her a month later.