I stared at the nose I’d seen bleeding only hours before, the violet eyes that had been so filled with pain. “Why?” I asked.
He knew what I meant, and shrugged. “Because when the legends get written, I didn’t want to be remembered for standing on the sidelines. I want my future offspring to know that I was there, and that I fought against her at the end, even if I couldn’t do anything useful.”
I blinked, this time not at the brightness of the sun.
“Because,” he went on, his eyes locked with mine, “I didn’t want you to fight alone. Or die alone.”
“Everything I love has always had a tendency to be taken from me. I tell very few about the wings. Or the flying.”
(…) A High Lord who loved to fly—trapped under a mountain. Shadows not of his own making still haunted those violet eyes. I wondered if they would ever fade.
“This body is different, but this”—I put my hand on my chest, my heart—“this is still human. Maybe it always will be. But it would have been easier to live with it …” My throat welled. “Easier to live with what I did if my heart had changed, too. Maybe I wouldn’t care so much; maybe I could convince myself their deaths weren’t in vain. Maybe immortality will take that away. I can’t tell whether I want it to.”
Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him. “Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
„You fell in love with me,” I said flatly, “because I reminded you of your friend?”
He flicked my nose. “I fell in love with you, smartass, because you were one of us—because you weren’t afraid of me, and you decided to end your spectacular victory by throwing that piece of bone at Amarantha like a javelin. I felt Cassian’s spirit beside „me in that moment, and could have sworn I heard him say, ‘If you don’t marry her, you stupid prick, I will.’ ”
I didn’t wait for him to stretch out his hand before I went to him. And looking up into his face I said, “I want to paint you.”
He gently lifted me into his arms. “Nude would be best,” he said in my ear.
And just because of that worry, just to get that tightness off his face, even for these few minutes before we faced his unholy realm beneath that mountain, I said over the wind, “Amren and Mor told me that the span of an Illyrian male’s wings says a lot about the size of … other parts.”
His eyes shot to mine, then to pine-tree-coated slopes below. “Did they now.”
I shrugged in his arms, trying not to think about the naked body that night all those weeks ago—though I hadn’t glimpsed much. “They also said Azriel’s wings are the biggest.”
Mischief danced in those violet eyes, washing away the cold distance, the strain. The spymaster was a black blur against the pale blue sky. “When we return home, let’s get out the measuring stick, shall we?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t find a way to spare you from what happened Under the Mountain,” Rhys said with equal quiet. “From dying. From wanting to die.” I began to shake my head, but he said, “I have two kinds of nightmares: the ones where I’m again Amarantha’s whore or my friends are … And the ones where I hear your neck snap and see the light leave your eyes.”